The importance of English votes for English Laws

English Votes for English LawsMy speech in the English Votes for English Laws debate on the 22nd of October. You can also read my latest column in the Wiltshire Gazette and Herald on the subject here https://michelledonelan.co.uk/english-mps-must-have-final-say-on-english-law/

Posted by Michelle Donelan MP on Friday, 30 October 2015

Today I spoke in the debate on English votes for English Laws, you can watch my speech here and read a copy below.

“Thank you Mr Speaker, we must be clear this debate is not about devolving powers to England or reclassifying some MPs. It is about restoring our say. Restoring the balance to give the English a strong voice on English matters and strengthening the union.

For too long have we suffered a half way attempt at devolution – we must rectify this. Especially as we honour the promises that we made to deliver the Smith Commission report and devolve greater powers to other parts of the United Kingdom.

If we do not amend our system to enable English Votes for English Laws it will mean that voters in Scotland will continue to vote for their own parliamentarians to make devolved laws but would also perhaps have the casting votes and therefore final say on matters that only affect constituents in England.

No changes would mean continuing to have two tiers of voters in the UK – with one set having double representation.

Is this democratic, is this fair?

I must acknowledge that with the majority Conservative Government there is less danger of an English matter being voted down by Scottish and Welsh MPs. However had the election produced a different result then we could face a totally different proposition all together

Is this right? Is this democratic?

We must remember today why we need to ensure that we have English votes for English Laws and that this is long overdue

We must not get bogged down by the arguments against this procedural change

The proposed changes are just, fair, a cost effective way to have English votes for English laws and above all democratic. They seek to restore the voice of the English people.

I am a strong believer in localism and devolving powers but I am not in favour of cherry picking areas or countries whilst ignoring others.

By voting for these changes we will show the people of the United Kingdom that we will not let the voice of one country or one area be drowned out.

We will reaffirm our commitment to a democratic UK and strengthen the union and protect the union by forging a more equal position to progress from.

The changes will go some way towards restoring faith in our system which will still allow members from all areas of the UK to debate all legislation but will just ensure that matters affecting England only have the consent of English MPs and they will relieve the feeling of being short changed that was echoed to me on door step, after door step by constituents during the election campaign.

Mr Speaker let us be clear though – that this change will not create 2 tiers of MPs.

In truth it was the half botched Labour government’s attempt at devolution that created two classes of MPs and it is now time to put that right.

This is a landmark change because it has been overlooked for so long.

It has been 38 years since the Member for West Lothian asked how long English residents and MPs would tolerate a devolution settlement which left out England.

Well 38 years on from that question and we can answer the question with confidence and pride.

This government will ensure that the wait is coming to an end.

I must stress that I do support the extension of powers to the Scottish Parliament the Welsh Assembly and the Northern Ireland Assembly. And further devolution to regions including the South West – particularly Wiltshire – the engine room driving our country – long before talks of any Northern Powerhouse.

Devolving powers to local people is the right thing, it is about trusting local people with local knowledge to make local decisions, but it is surely also right to ensure that we can give a fair deal to the English – including my own constituents.

As Cherston famously wrote

“But we are the people of England, and we have not spoken yet.

Smile at us, pay us, pass us, but do not quite forget.”

Mr Speaker Now – now, is time for the English to speak!”

Michelle Donelan in the English Votes for English Laws