On Thursday 22nd October I spoke in the ‘English Votes for English Laws’ (EVEL) debate in the House of Commons Chamber, where I voiced my support for the Bill and its intended aims. It was a pleasure to be called to speak in the debate. ‘EVEL’ has been one of my main election pledges since I first stood for Parliament in 2001 and has continued to be a personal goal of mine in 2005, 2010 and again in 2015.
I am, and will always be, a believer in our great Union and was so pleased last year when the majority of Scottish people voted to stay in the UK. I also believe the devolved Parliaments are good for the people of their respective nations. However ever since their creation in the 1990’s the already difficult ‘Westlothian Problem’ as it’s been dubbed, became untenable.
After Thursdays vote in the House of Commons we will now have a fairer system where only English MPs can vote on legislation which only affects English Constituencies. I understand some people’s concerns that EVEL will create so called ‘second-class MPs’, but I must stress that this is very much untrue. This is because there is already a convention that MPs from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland do not vote on legislation which only affects England.
Therefore we are not creating different classes of MPs, we are instead setting in stone a convention that is already long held. The enactment of EVEL has recently become more important as the SNP have recently threatened to vote on matters which they have no democratic grounds to vote on. Equally English MPs have no control over issues such as Health or Education in Scotland, so in effect we are the ones who were second class MPs.
After this important vote I am confident that fairness has been restored to the United Kingdom Parliament and we can now be assured that MPs will only vote on matters which affect their constituents.