EVEL system needs overhauled, warns Commons committee

Written by Emilio Casalicchio on 20 December 2016 in News

MPs demand urgent redrafting of the English votes for English laws procedure in the House of Commons

Parliamentary rules banning Scottish MPs from voting on English-only matters must be urgently rewritten, a group of MPs has declared.

The House of Commons Procedure Committee said the English Votes for English Laws scheme - introduced just a year ago - did not “command the respect” of all parties.

Under the arrangements, a special committee of English MPs is given the power to veto legislation which only affects their constituents.


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Beyond good and EVEL


The reforms were the Government's attempt to answer the 'West Lothian question' of why Scottish MPs should be able to vote on issues which only apply south of the border.

But in a new report today the Procedure Committee said the new rules were too complex and “not a sound basis for a major long-term change” in the legislative process.

The cross-party committee said it was "deeply dissatisfied" with the rules, which it argued were "opaque and defy interpretation” by MPs.

“The new Evel procedures do not command the respect and support across all parties that they should if the system is to be sustainable through the political stresses it must expect to face in the future,” the report said.

It urged the Government to “give serious attention both to the unsatisfactory design of the present system and to the over-elaborate means whereby it is implemented”.

And it added: “We recommend that the Government, as a matter of urgency, should commission a project to redraft the present Evel standing orders to make them more accessible and comprehensible, and to deliver a package more likely to command respect, support and understanding from all sides of the House.”

The report revealed that the  Legislative Grand Committee, which rules on measures affecting just one part of the UK, had met only 15 times in the last year for a total of one hour and 23 minutes.

Tory backbencher Jacob Rees-Mogg said parliament looked "faintly ridiculous" following the procedure whereby "we suspend for a minute, we come back, we pretend to have a committee, which then disappears and then we vote".

Procedure Committee chairman and Tory MP Charles Walker said: "I hope that the Government will reflect on our report and use it as an opportunity to greatly simplify the procedures around Evel.

"The current procedural complexities around English votes for English laws do no credit to the House."

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