Yesterday was the first time in history that Scottish MPs were barred from voting in the House of Commons under new EVEL changes to the Standing Orders. Before yesterday’s vote on the Housing and Planning Bill the House was suspended while the speaker decided if Scottish MPs were allowed to vote. While the campaign to re-establish the Scottish Parliament took over 100 years to complete, the Tories have pushed through new powers for MPs in England in a matter of months. If ever you wanted evidence of English privilege in the UK Govt, EVEL is it.
If English MPs want to ensure that England has a say over English matters they should start the long process that Scotland has, a process that has its roots as far back as home rule movements in the 19th Century. English Votes for English Laws articulates perfectly the widely held belief that the United Kingdom’s Parliament is in fact English, it is not. When I sit in the House of Commons I am an equal to my English, Welsh and Northern Ireland counterparts. With 533 of 650 members, Members of Parliament in England already have the capability to win every single vote without EVEL and the further weakening of Scotland’s voice in the chamber. The House of Commons is now a two-tier parliament and I do not agree with the UK Government that MPs from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland should be second class MPs.
EVEL is an abomination to democracy and an excruciatingly large waste of time. Myself and my colleagues within the SNP have always supported an English Parliament. An English Parliament would allow for key English decisions to be made without taking up already precious parliamentary time. There is already an incredibly successful example of this – The Scottish Parliament.