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English Votes for English Laws

Volume 699: debated on Monday 12 July 2021

Today, I am informing the House that the Government intend to bring forward a motion for the House of Commons to consider whether to amend the Standing Orders to remove the English Votes for English Laws procedure from the legislative process in the House of Commons.

The English Votes for English Laws procedure, which was introduced in 2015, amended the legislative process for the purpose of providing MPs representing English constituencies—or those representing English and Welsh constituencies—the opportunity to have an additional say on matters that applied to England—or England and Wales only.

It also applies to legislation introducing a tax measure that affects only England, Wales and Northern Ireland, which must be approved by a majority of MPs representing constituencies in those areas.

The English Votes procedure does not apply to the legislative process in the House of Lords, although it is the case that amendments made in the Lords which apply to England—or England and Wales—only are subject to a double majority vote in the House of Commons.

The procedure was introduced as more powers were being devolved to the Scottish Parliament and Senedd but does not reflect the unique nature of the UK Parliament and the principle that all parts of the UK should be, and are, represented equally in the UK Parliament.

The introduction of the procedure in 2015 added additional stages to the legislative process in Parliament and in doing so introduced complexity to our arrangements and has not served our Parliament well. This Standing Order reform is a sensible change that will ensure the effective operation of the legislative process.

Removing English Votes for English Laws does not change the fact that MPs with constituencies in England—and indeed MPs who represent constituencies across the UK—have a strong voice and role in the UK Parliament.

It is a fundamental principle that all constituent parts of the United Kingdom should be equally represented in Parliament, and Parliament should deliver for the whole UK. The operation of this procedure—and the constraints on the role of certain MPs—does not support this aim.

Rather than maintain this procedure, the Government shall on 13 July bring forward a motion in the House of Commons so that MPs can debate whether the English Votes procedure should be removed from the legislative process.