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Members' Voting Rights

Oral Answers to Questions — Constitutional Affairs – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 28th February 2006.

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Photo of Adam Afriyie Adam Afriyie Conservative, Windsor 2:30 pm, 28th February 2006

If she will make a statement on the voting rights of hon. Members representing constituencies outside England on matters relating exclusively to England.

Photo of Bridget Prentice Bridget Prentice Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Constitutional Affairs

Hon. Members are entitled to speak and vote on any issue in this House.

Photo of Adam Afriyie Adam Afriyie Conservative, Windsor

But we must face the fact that there is a constitutional injustice here. To most reasonable people it is illogical, unfair and unjust that Scottish MPs can vote on laws that relate only to England, but English MPs cannot do likewise for Scotland. What specific actions are she and her Department taking to address that democratic inequality?

Photo of Bridget Prentice Bridget Prentice Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Constitutional Affairs

The Department has absolutely no intention of taking any action to address what is not an inequality. The hon. Gentleman asked the same question a few moments ago, and I was tempted simply to refer him to the answer that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland gave a few moments ago. As the hon. Gentleman voted five times on the Government of Wales Bill last night, I find it difficult to understand why he has difficulty in understanding why every Member of this House has the right to vote on every issue within it.

Photo of Gwyneth Dunwoody Gwyneth Dunwoody Labour, Crewe and Nantwich

Could my hon. Friend arrange a series of teach-ins for Members of Parliament who do not understand how long it took to get members of the whole of the United Kingdom—men and women—represented in this House, to explain why they should not lightly, for party political purposes, launch forth on absurd, ill thought-out and farcical campaigns to change that status?

Photo of Bridget Prentice Bridget Prentice Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Constitutional Affairs

I do not think that my response could put that any better than my hon. Friend has done.

Photo of Jonathan Djanogly Jonathan Djanogly Shadow Minister (Business, Innovation and Skills), Shadow Solicitor General, Shadow Minister (Justice), Shadow Solicitor General

Does the Minister not agree that if it was iniquitous for English rule to be imposed on Scotland, it would be just as iniquitous for Scottish rule now to be imposed on England?

Photo of Bridget Prentice Bridget Prentice Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Constitutional Affairs

The hon. Gentleman needs to remember the history of the Conservative—and, at one time, Unionist—party, which imposed laws on Scotland against the wishes of the Scottish people. [Interruption.] I think that everyone knows that I am referring to the poll tax. May I say to the hon. Gentleman—he too voted five times on the Government of Wales Bill last night—that every Member of the House should be treated equally? We should not have two classes of MPs in the House, and matters that affect Scotland are entitled to be voted on by English MPs and vice versa.

B

Does the Minister not agree that if it was iniquitous for English rule to be imposed on Scotland, it would be just as iniquitous for Scottish rule now to be imposed on England? I do wish these people would answer the question. Regardless of what the tories or anybody else did in the past. If it is being raised as an issue now, then it should be addressed...

Submitted by Bill Kenway Continue reading