English votes for English laws will strengthen the Union, create fairer arrangements and ensure the English have more of a voice over matters that only affect them. The proposals are fair and balanced and are being introduced in a considered way and will be reviewed after 12 months to ensure the process is working effectively. It is important that we have a system which is fair and workable for every part of the UK.
Chris Grayling, Leader of the House of Commons, said:
Today we are delivering our commitment to introduce English votes for English laws. We are determined to strengthen the Union – we are devolving more powers across the United Kingdom, and now is the time to give the English more say over their own destiny.
Our plans provide a fair balance by giving England more control over decisions which it alone is affected by, while ensuring that Westminster continues to be a place where those from across the UK govern in the best interests of those living within the Union.
Under English Votes for English Laws, every MP would continue to have a vote on every Bill. Where the House of Commons considers a new bill which only affects England, and where the power to make that law has been devolved elsewhere, a new Parliamentary procedure will apply. The Speaker of the House of Commons will be responsible for certifying which bills, or parts of bills, meet this test.
The procedure will see English, or sometimes English and Welsh, MPs being asked for their consent to the provisions which meet this test. They will do this in a new stage of Parliamentary consideration called the ‘Legislative Grand Committee’, which will let them debate the proposals and secure their consent to them.
All MPs will continue to debate and vote on legislation at Second Reading, Third Reading and Report stage. This ensures that new laws are made with the agreement of the whole House of Commons, but that English (and Welsh) laws will be made with the consent of MPs who represent those parts of the country.
The government’s updated proposals are designed to achieve a fair and balanced settlement which ensures MPs from across the UK continue to have a role in making legislation but also ensures English matters are approved by a majority of English MPs. This will strengthen England’s voice just as devolution has strengthened the voices of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, whilst maintaining the strength of the UK Parliament and the Union.
The government’s proposed changes to the Standing Orders of the House will be debated on Thursday 22 October.