Clarke seeks England-only votes by MPs

MPs from Scotland, Wales and Ulster would be stripped of the power to vote on laws that only affect England, under Conservative Tory proposals published today.

Graham Dines

MPs from Scotland, Wales and Ulster would be stripped of the power to vote on laws that only affect England, under Conservative Tory proposals published today.

The plan is intended to redress the “West Lothian Question” which report author Kenneth Clarke described as “the last anomaly” of the devolution arrangements.

Non-English MPs routinely vote on legislation which covers only England, which leads to a democratic


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, encapsulated in the so-called West Lothian question.

Under Mr Clarke's plans, only English MPs would vote during the committee stage of bills affecting only England, when detailed amendments to the legislation are considered.

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However, all MPs would be able to vote at the earlier second reading in the Commons - when the broad impacts are discussed - and the final third reading, where a Bill is either passed or rejected.

Mr Clarke said that the plan was intended to strengthen the Union while avoiding the parliamentary deadlock which could result if the entire Commons process was handed over to English MPs.

“If you wish to keep the Union intact you do not wish to see a situation where the government of the United Kingdom could actually be powerless faced with an English parliamentary majority carrying measures and putting into practice things of which the United Kingdom government disapproves.”

Mr Clarke said that if a situation arose where the government of the day did not have a majority among the English MPs, in practice the parties would have negotiate to get legislation through.

“The United Kingdom Government would retain control of the agenda, it would retain control of the totality of the public expenditure involved in any legislation. It would not, however, be able to impose specific or detailed measures on English constituencies where the majority of the English were against ''

He cited the example of university tuition fees and foundation hospitals which the Government only passed with the assistance of Scottish votes, even though Scotland was not affected by the legislation.

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