Standing Orders (Public Business)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:44 pm on 22nd October 2015.

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Photo of Bill Cash Bill Cash Chair, European Scrutiny Committee 2:44 pm, 22nd October 2015

Back in 1997 I sought to tackle the West Lothian question by tabling an amendment to the Scotland Bill, the effect of which was to amend our Standing Orders so as to ensure fairness for the English voters and taxpayers where exclusively English matters were to arise. It was clear that none of the party leaders at the time were prepared to countenance that, but I am afraid that it has caught up with us now.

There have been real consequences to the devolution process. Although I will not say that there is not a case for the Barnett formula, we do make a substantial amount of money available to Scotland—this is not a subject Pete Wishart, for example, has touched on today—and I can understand why, in the interests of the Union. That is a perfectly reasonable position, but I think it can be pushed too far, and I will say this: this is not about two classes of MPs; it is about two classes of function, which were created, as Alex Salmond more or less alluded to, because under the devolution settlement it was agreed that there would be reserved matters and classes of functions that would be transferred to Scotland. I cannot imagine that Scottish Members either in this House or the Scottish Parliament would countenance the idea of English MPs claiming to vote on matters that have been devolved to Scotland.