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Standing Orders (Public Business)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:51 pm on 22nd October 2015.

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Photo of Edward Leigh Edward Leigh Conservative, Gainsborough 1:51 pm, 22nd October 2015

I apologise for arriving late to the debate but I was attending the Trade Union Bill.

I sat on the Procedure Committee and have gone through this issue in great detail. English votes for English laws is a manifesto commitment that must be carried out, and I have argued consistently that the complete exclusion of Scottish MPs would be a disaster. The Leader of the House has listened to our views carefully, and Scottish MPs are not being completely excluded—there is a double veto.

This issue is fearfully complicated—our new Standing Orders take up 700 lines—and we need a careful piloting stage. It is a cliché to say that this is like the Schleswig-Holstein question—only three people understand it and one is mad and one is dead—but only two Clerks understand it, and neither is mad or dead. The Leader of the House of Commons says that it is okay because we can all vote on estimates, but I wrote a report for the Chancellor on that issue, and under our procedures, on estimates days the only thing Members cannot talk about is estimates. In that sense, this is a serious matter.

The most serious matter for me, my right hon. Friend and our colleagues to consider is that we love the Union beyond everything else. Nothing we do in this House should add to a sense of grievance in Scotland, and that most important consideration should be in the forefront of our minds.