Plan for separate votes by English MPs
Andrew Grice has been Political Editor of The Independent since 1998. He was previously Political Editor of The Sunday Times, where he worked for 10 years, and he has been a Westminster-based journalist since 1982. His column, Inside Politics, appears in The Independent each Saturday.
Monday 25 March 2013
Laws that affect only England should normally require the support of a majority of English MPs, a government-ordered inquiry recommends today.
The McKay Commission proposed that Commons decisions with a "separate and distinct effect" for England should "normally be taken only with the consent of a majority of MPs sitting for constituencies in England.” The rule would also apply to decisions that only affected England and Wales, on issues devolved to the Scottish Parliament.
The review was launched last year into the so-called West Lothian Question - the ability of politicians from Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland to vote in the Commons on issues that do not affect their constituents. In 2004, the votes of Scottish and Welsh MPs enabled the then Labour Government to bring in university top-up fees in England.
Sir William McKay, who chaired the commission, said: "The status quo clearly cannot be sustained. Our proposals retain the right of a UK-wide majority to make the final decisions where they believe UK interests or those of a part of the UK other than England should prevail. We expect that governments will prefer compromise to conflict.
"There is a feeling that England is at a disadvantage, and that it's not right that MPs representing the devolved nations should be able to vote on matters affecting England.”
The commission rejected as "flawed and impractical" a law requiring all England-only legislation requiring a majority of English MPs as well as an overall majority. Instead, it suggested a "double count" , where the proportion of English MPs supporting a Bill would be published alongside the overall result.
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