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07 July 2015
Urgent debate on 'outrageous' EVEL

Urgent debate on 'outrageous' EVEL

UK Government ministers will be forced to defend their plans to introduce ‘English votes for English laws’ today after an urgent debate was granted on the reforms.

Commons Speaker John Bercow has set aside a three-hour slot after former Secretary of State for Scotland Alistair Carmichael accused government of presiding over a “constitutionally outrageous” situation.

Under proposals outlined by the Leader of the House Chris Grayling last week, English MPs – and in some cases Welsh MPs – would have a veto over legislation on matters that are devolved elsewhere in the UK.


English Votes for English Laws plan labelled ‘reckless’

David Mundell on devolution, the SNP, and whether the 'vow' swung the referendum

The new proposals would also provide English MPs an additional veto over secondary legislation and give a “decisive vote” over tax measures to MPs whose constituents are affected once further devolution to Scotland takes place.

However, plans to implement the changes by amending standing orders – requiring just one day’s debate followed by a Commons vote – rather than legislation were labeled “constitutionally outrageous” by Carmichael.

The Lib Dem MP for Orkney and Shetland asked the Speaker for an urgent debate on the matter, a request heeded with the allocation of a three-hour slot today.

“Let there be no doubt – we are dealing here with a major constitutional change,” said Carmichael

“It is one which undermines a fundamental principle of the workings of this house – namely that no matter where we come from, once we get here, we are all equal.   

“To seek to do this in one day by amendment to our standing orders may be technically competent but it is still an abuse of process. It is constitutionally outrageous and I fear that it puts a further unnecessary strain on the union.

“That is what the House must consider and what the country must hear debated before we go any further.”

The request, which required the backing of 40 MPs, was backed by the SNP group as well as other opposition parties.

"The Tories' English Votes for English Laws proposals are falling apart at the seams - the fact that the Speaker granted this debate suggests that he is unhappy about the invidious position it puts him in to designate business as English or England and Wales only,” said SNP Shadow Leader of the House Pete Wishart MP.

"The unfairness and incompetence which characterise the Tories' EVEL plans have undoubtedly created a backlash - the UK government should use the fact that their plans are unravelling as an opportunity to take them off the table completely."

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