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English Votes for English Laws

Oral Answers to Questions — Leader of the House – in the House of Commons at 9:30 am on 3rd March 2016.

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Photo of Tristram Hunt Tristram Hunt Labour, Stoke-on-Trent Central 9:30 am, 3rd March 2016

What recent assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the introduction of procedures on English votes for English laws.

Photo of Chris Grayling Chris Grayling Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

We have fulfilled our manifesto commitment to introduce English votes for English laws, which I believe will strengthen the Union. We have undertaken two Legislative Grand Committees, and several statutory instruments have been passed without Division. There have been some technical issues, but they relate also to the introduction of electronic counting in this House using iPads, which is routine in the other place now and which the House authorities are working on. Clearly, we would not wish to be left behind by the other House in the technologies that it uses. We will undertake a review of English votes for English laws procedure later this year.

Photo of Tristram Hunt Tristram Hunt Labour, Stoke-on-Trent Central

Does the Leader of the House not agree that the current Gilbert and Sullivan system for EVEL is simply unsustainable? It is confusing, haphazard and totally incomprehensible to the public. Will he therefore join my call for a referendum on an English Parliament so that the voice of England has clarity in our representative democracy? After all, we know how much he enjoys a referendum.

Photo of Chris Grayling Chris Grayling Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

I am not necessarily certain that that is the Labour party’s policy. It is an interesting concept, but the Government were elected on a manifesto to deliver English votes for English laws in this place. It is set out in detail how we will do that, and we have implemented our commitment, as the electorate would have expected.

Photo of Ian Lucas Ian Lucas Labour, Wrexham

Mr Speaker, you will be aware that Coleg Cambria in my constituency has students resident in England who are directly affected by issues you have certified under the EVEL procedure as relating only to England. Will the

Leader of the House urgently consider this issue, which is directly affecting the livelihoods of people in my constituency? He is limiting my voice on these matters.

Photo of Chris Grayling Chris Grayling Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

I have to admire the hon. Gentleman for his persistence in this matter, but as I have explained to him time and again, he has no say over matters such as health and education in his own constituency. It is not obviously logical that we should make special arrangements for him to have that say across the border in constituencies represented by other Members of this House.

Photo of Pete Wishart Pete Wishart Shadow SNP Westminster Group Leader (Leader of the House of Commons), Chair, Scottish Affairs Committee

There has barely been a more disastrous and divisive innovation than English votes for English laws. It is totally unnecessary, and the Tory majority in England and the UK is crushing any hope of a Tory revival in Scotland with this anti-Scottish tone. Is not EVEL now ripe for abolition, and should it not be confined to the dustbin of history?

Photo of Chris Grayling Chris Grayling Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

The hon. Gentleman speaks with his customary reserve and understatement. I have to say that I totally disagree with him.

Several hon. Members rose—