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Devolution and Growth Across Britain

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:44 pm on 3rd June 2015.

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Photo of David Hanson David Hanson Shadow Minister (Home Affairs) 4:44 pm, 3rd June 2015

Thank you very much, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to contribute to this debate. I pay tribute to the hon. Members for North East Hampshire (Mr Jayawardena) for South Suffolk (James Cartlidge), for Aldridge-Brownhills (Wendy Morton) and for Gower (Byron Davies) for their maiden speeches. They were confident, and they will play a full part in this House in due course. I also very much welcome my hon. Friend Stephen Kinnock, who made a very strong maiden speech and supported the position that I would take on the steel industry. My hon. Friend Helen Hayes, in particular, has made a confident start in this Chamber.

I have fought seven elections in my constituency and have now been returned for the sixth time, so I pay tribute to my constituents for their continuing support in what was a Conservative seat but is now—and has been for six elections—a Labour seat. That is important, because I love this place. I love its traditions, its work, its ability to hold the Government to account and the fact that we can change people’s lives and make a difference. I am worried, however, that one particular aspect of the Gracious Speech—the proposal for English votes for English laws—will change the nature of the House of Commons dramatically. It will change it for our colleagues from Scotland—where, with 56 of the 59 MPs, the Scottish National party has, I admit, won a mandate—but it will also change the nature of the mandate we hold in this House as a whole. We will now have to have pre-qualification to speak on issues that matter to our constituents, including those in Scotland.

It does not matter whether I have a majority of 27, like the hon. Member for Gower, or of 34,000, like my right hon. Friend Mr Howarth. Before I speak in this Chamber, nobody asks me what my majority is, how long I have served, which region of the United Kingdom I come from or whether I have been a Minister—which I have been—or whether I have been or want to be a Committee Chair or something else in the House. What gives me validity to speak in this House is the votes of people in north Wales and your calling me from the Chair, Mr Speaker. This Gracious Speech will change that situation dramatically.

This matters to me because I represent a constituency in north-east Wales. If the tide is out in my constituency, I am able to walk to England and the constituency of my hon. Friend Justin Madders. That is how close we are. Constituents of mine work at Vauxhall in Ellesmere Port and receive business support grants from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. I have constituents who were born in the constituency of my hon. Friend Chris Matheson, whom I am very pleased to see in his place. My constituents use rail services in Crewe, where HS2 is extremely important, and work in the fire service, the health service and as teachers in England. However, under the proposals, the Government will decide, in a committee, through a change of Standing Orders—not even through legislation—whether I, as a Welsh MP, will be able to contribute on those issues that matter to my constituents. That is important because I feel strongly about a range of issues.