SNP says Tory plan to block Scottish MPs from voting on English laws likely to face legal challenge

Shadow Commons leader Pete Wishart says the courts could get involved

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The Government’s plan to stop Scottish MPs’ votes from deciding on matters that only affect England will probably face legal challenge, an influential SNP MP has said.

Pete Wishart, the SNP’s shadow House of Commons leader and chair of Parliament’s Scottish Affairs Committee, described the policy as “a lot of constitutional bilge” and said the courts could block the change.

“What we are creating to do with this statement is two classes of MPs in this house which will have a significant impact on our ability to look after our constituents and to stand up for their interests in this House of Commons,” he told the House of Commons.

“This is the most dramatic and important constitutional statement that we’ve had since the days of Gladstone – never before has there been an assault on the rights of MPs in this house to look after the interests of their constituents.

“We get this unworkable mess that will be challenged all the way down the line and probably end up in the courts when it comes to this.”

The Government says it does not have to pass legislation to implement the rules, which it is introducing using Standing Orders of the House of Commons.

Mr Wishart blamed the UK’s “asymmetric devolution” settlement for the situation and said Britain should have a federal parliament with separate legislatures for each of the UK’s nations.

The Government’s plan involves a new Legislative Grand Committee stage to amend legislation that is considered English-only or English and Welsh-only.

Amendments from the House of Lords would also have to be approved by a “double majority” of all MPs and English or English and Welsh MPs.


The DUP, a unionist party in Northern Ireland with eight MPs, also appeared cool on the plan. The party’s leader Nigel Dodds said he would “vote for what strengthens the United Kingdom”.

Chris Grayling, the Conservative Leader of the House of Commons, defended the measures.

“It’s really important everyone feels our constitutional arrangements are fair, so this one nation government will end the anomaly that a majority of English MPs can be outvoted on matters which are devolved elsewhere,” he said.

“At a time when we’re giving more power to the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly, it’s right the English should have a veto over things that only affect their constituents.”

In April the Government promised to introduce English Votes for English Laws within a year of winning the general election.