Mark Wallace is executive editor of ConservativeHome, says Yes
Tony Blair fudged devolution in the late 1990s, leaving us with an incomplete and unequal arrangement which has driven the Union right to the brink. A 2015 fudge won’t do anything to preserve it from nationalist ambitions north of the border or growing resentment to its south. Scots are dissatisfied with insufficient devolution, and English voters are frustrated by having none at all. Unfortunately, William Hague’s so-called solution is yet another fudge. English MPs will gain powers to block laws, but not to enact new legislation on their own. With the Scottish National Party and Plaid Cymru openly planning to meddle in English lawmaking, it isn’t hard to see that there is more trouble ahead. Ultimately, the only way to settle the issue is full Devo Max for all four home nations. Unless we become self-governing partners in an equal Union, more and more English voters will ask why they get such a bad deal. And they’ll be right.
Tim Bale is professor of politics at Queen Mary, University of London, says No
So it’s not pure English votes for English laws (EVEL) after all. It’s EVEL-lite. Or maybe just EVEL-ish. No wonder some Tory MPs are upset. Hague is proposing that English MPs, rather than having the sole say on English laws, meet as a “Grand Committee”, after Report Stage, to veto or approve legislation (or bits of it) before it’s finally passed at Third Reading by MPs from all parts of the UK. It’s not pretty – although it’s likely to prove pretty difficult to explain to the man or woman in the street. But it is the best the government can do in the circumstances. Anything else would have represented a fundamental challenge to the idea – some would say the convenient constitutional fiction – that Westminster is the legislature for the whole of this still-just-about-united kingdom. Rightly or wrongly, messy compromise is how we do devolution in this country – or countries. This sounds like more of the same rather than a death knell.