17:20 Tuesday 16th December 2014
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire
CHRIS MANN: Plans to give English MPs a greater say on laws that only affect England have been put forward by the Government today. David Cameron promised English votes for English laws when he unveiled new powers for the Scottish parliament after Scots rejected independence. The Leader of the Commons William Hague says that means things have to change at Westminster too.
WILLIAM HAGUE: MPs representing constituencies outside England may vote on legislation which does not affect their constituents, while English MPs are not able to influence these policies in other nations where they are devolved.
CHRIS MANN: Four options are on offer from the Government.
The first would bar Scottish MPs from any role in English and Welsh laws. The second would allow English MPs to have a bigger say over the early stages of laws, but allow all MPs a final vote. A third option would give English MPs a veto over laws in the early stages. And the fourth and final plan would see a committee of English MPs established. They’d have the right to veto legislation applying only to England. But there’s no agreement on the way forward. One Conservative MP John Redwood says only a full-blown English parliament will do.
JOHN REDWOOD: England expects English votes for English issues, and we expect simplicity and justice now. No ifs, no buts, no committee limitations, no tricks. Give us what we want. We waited fifteen years for this.
CHRIS MANN: Labour says the Prime Minister is hurrying to make a change, and he hasn’t consulted the people of England. The Shadow Lord Chancellor Sadiq Khan says there are real risks with rushing ahead.
SADIQ KHAN: What we mustn’t do, only months after the Scottish people voted to keep our kingdom united, is allow our country to be divided by the back door. Nothing we do should jeopardise the future of the union.
CHRIS MANN: The Labour MP Graham Allen says the Government’s plans don’t go nearly far enough.
GRAHAM ALLEN: Failure to include a comprehensive English devolution settlement based upon the vehicle of local government, independent local government, and substitute for it a minor issue, moving around the green benches on the Titanic on English votes for English laws just does not meet the historical need.
CHRIS MANN: But the Conservative MP Sir Bill Cash disagrees. He wants Ministers to get on with the changes.
BILL CASH: Where there are clearly devolved functions, Scottish and other MPs from devolved parts of the United Kingdom have no justification whatsoever to vote on exclusively English matters. And the voters get this. I urge my Right Honourable friend to ensure that this matter is dealt with in the near future by amendment of our Standing Orders as I proposed, and not by legislation, thereby avoiding interference by the courts.
CHRIS MANN: Agreement on the way forward before the General Election next May seems all but impossible. But until the English question has been resolved, concern over how the biggest part of the UK is governed will only continue to grow.