English votes for English laws "must be piloted", say MPs

James Nickerson
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William Hague first talked of English votes for English laws in December 2014 (Source: Getty)

The government's proposals to give English MPs new powers over "English only issues" should be piloted on selected legislation before being rolled out in full force, the Procedures Select Committee has said.

Under the proposals all MPs will continue to vote on all key stages of legislation. However, English MPs - and in some cases English and Welsh MPs - will have a veto in Westminster when debating matters that have been devolved to the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish administrations.

The select committee recommends that as "the proposals represent substantial change to the House’s practices and procedures on legislation" they "ought to be piloted on statutory instruments and no more than three bills in the remainder of this session".

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Charles Walker, chair of the committee, said:

Our initial review on these major proposals for change found that elements of the proposed procedures were over-engineered and potentially burdensome on the House.

Clearly the proposals represent a substantial change to the House's procedures, and they ought to be piloted on statutory instruments, and a small number of bills, before they are fully implemented.

English votes for English laws come as a response to more devolved powers to the Holyrood parliament in Edinburgh, including the ability to vary rates and income tax bands.

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The Conservatives are following through on a pledge in their election manifesto that decisions on matters affecting only England, or England and Wales, should be taken with the consent of the majority of MPs from those regions.

However, in creating the report, the committee failed to garner the endorsement of the two Scottish National Party members - Patricia Gibson and Patrick Grady.

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