Skip to main content

Standing Orders: Reform

Volume 616: debated on Thursday 27 October 2016

Standing Orders undergo frequent revision. The Procedure Committee, the Clerks and the Government monitor their use to ensure that our Standing Orders reflect how business in the House is conducted in practice.

Yesterday, the Leader of the House announced a review of last year’s change to Standing Orders, which implemented the absurd English votes for English laws process, which disfranchises non-English MPs. Will he restore equality for MPs by removing the over-convoluted and shamefully partisan EVEL procedure from Standing Orders, and make sure that all MPs in this House are equal?

I shall take that as a first contribution to the consultation that the Government have initiated. I am disappointed that Members from the Scottish National party seem unable to comprehend that it is a matter of justice that legislation affecting only England should command the support of a majority of Members of Parliament from England.

Do the Standing Orders not need to be changed to reflect what goes on today? Despite your valiant efforts, Mr Speaker, we have far too many subjects to cover today, which prevented me from railing against the madness that prevents gay men from donating blood unless they say they have been celibate for 12 months.

As I think my hon. Friend has demonstrated, an ingenious Member of Parliament is able to find numerous ways in which to place the points about which he is concerned on the record.

The hon. Member for Lichfield (Michael Fabricant) is a notable practitioner of what I call the shoehorning technique, which is to shoehorn the matter of concern to oneself into any question whether it naturally fits or not.

My hon. Friend the Member for Ross, Skye and Lochaber (Ian Blackford) is absolutely right that EVEL has been a bureaucratic, cumbersome and misunderstood nightmare, which has divided this House on the basis of nationality and geography. Given that the Government have a majority in both England and the rest of the United Kingdom, what difference has this useless apparatus made to any legislative outcome that we have considered in the past year?

The changes are a demonstration of the Government’s commitment to ensuring justice is done to Members from all parts of the United Kingdom. The EVEL arrangements apply only in respect of legislation, amendments or statutory instruments that cover matters that are devolved in Scotland, over which this House has no say and no jurisdiction, but which are a matter for this House to determine in respect of England, and it is only right that English Members should exercise the veto that these arrangements provide.