Supporting English votes for English laws

Henry Smith MP column, Crawley Observer, 25 November 2015

An issue that the Conservative Government have taken swift action on since the General Election in May is the subject of English votes for English laws.

This autumn in Parliament I voted for its introduction, and I am pleased that the House of Commons supported the idea.

This is an arrangement that will ensure that England has a say in matters over laws which apply to English constituencies in the UK only.

Following the devolution of the late 1990s which led to the formation of the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly, almost two decades later it is only right that England’s representatives have a voice on English legislation affecting English constituents.

On matters devolved to other nations of the United Kingdom, where the House of Commons considers a new bill which only affects England, a new parliamentary procedure will apply.

This will see English MPs being asked for their consent to the provisions of the bill, in a new stage of the parliamentary process called the Legislative Grand Committee.

It will be the responsibility of the Speaker of the House of Commons to certify which bills, or parts of bills, qualify for this process.

All Members of Parliament will continue to debate, and vote, on legislation at its Second Reading, Third Reading and Report stage. This will ensure new laws are made with the agreement of the whole House of Commons, but that English (and Welsh) laws will be made with the consent of the elected parliamentarians who represent those parts of the United Kingdom.

English votes for English laws will see a fairer constitutional arrangement and ensure the English have more of a voice over matters that affect us.

Our constitutional system has grown and changed over time, and these measures will be reviewed after 12 months to ensure the process is working effectively.

As patron of the Fair Votes for All campaign in the previous parliament I was delighted to vote for this constitutional fairness in the House of Commons – I was also pleased to present my Crawley petition on this matter in Parliament earlier in the year.

I recently raised other constitutional issues; namely the House of Lords. I made the Leader of the House of Commons aware of my ongoing support for a reformed, elected second chamber. Also one of the issues that many people have contacted me about in recent years is a referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union, I am pleased that this Government will ensure a referendum is held by the end of 2017.

Of course, it was Labour and Liberal Democrat unelected peers who worked together to prevent a referendum on the United Kingdom’s membership of the EU.

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