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EVEL plans are “over-engineered and potentially burdensome on the House”, Commons report finds

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The SNP and Scottish Labour criticise plans for English Votes for English Laws, following Procedure Committee report

The SNP and Scottish Labour have both criticised plans for English Votes for English Laws, following the publication of a Commons report describing Government plans as “over-engineered and potentially burdensome on the House”.

The House of Commons Procedure Committee examined plans for EVEL, accepting the proposals should be implemented through changes to the House’s procedures through Standing Orders, rather than through primary legislation, but insisting that there should be a pilot stage to assess how the proposed changes would work in practice.

SNP Westminster Leader Angus Robertson said “The Tories have got themselves into a first class muddle and are trying to force this through – with too many flaws – too quickly”, while shadow Scottish secretary Ian Murray described the plans as “an incomprehensible mess”.

 

The Chair of the Committee, Charles Walker, said: “Our initial review on these major proposals for change found that elements of the proposed procedures were over-engineered and potentially burdensome on the House. The Committee has recommended changes which will give the whole House a say in how it applies these procedures, and will streamline the process required to allow colleagues from constituencies in England or England and Wales to vote on legislation which affects those constituencies only.

He added: “Clearly the proposals represent a substantial change to the House’s procedures, and they ought to be piloted on statutory instruments, and a small number of Bills, before they are fully implemented.”

Robertson said: ‘’This report shows the utter confusion and total inadequacy of what the UK government is proposing on EVEL. The Tories have got themselves into a first class muddle and are trying to force this through – with too many flaws – too quickly.

“English Votes for English Laws puts forward an absurd solution to the UK’s current constitutional inequalities and it is clear that the proposals need to go right back to the drawing board so that they can be examined properly.

“The Tories are paying a very high political price for trying to rush through ill-thought out proposals which would make Scotland’s representation at Westminster second class – they need to explain their latest thinking to the people and parliament.”

Murray said: “The Government’s proposals for EVEL are an incomprehensible mess. This report adds to the many expert voices who have already said that these proposals will not strengthen Parliament. Instead, David Cameron’s proposals will weaken our democracy, weaken Scotland’s voice in Parliament and for the first time create two classes of MPs.

He continued: “It could lead to the perverse situation where some unelected members of the House of Lords will be more powerful than elected MPs. Labour will put forward our own proposals that will simplify this process, but not threaten the way the UK’s democracy works.”

The SNP refused to sign up to the report, with SNP MP Patricia Gibson saying it, “refused to recognise that the Commons is a UK parliament and that EVEL effectively does not recognise this as it excludes MPs from areas outside England from voting on legislation that could have consequentials and effects on other parts of the UK.”

Written by Liam Kirkaldy on 19 October 2015 in News

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