A damning report on the fundamental flaws within the Tory’s EVEL – English Votes for English Laws - procedures has been published one year on from their introduction, recommending a further evaluation of the system.
EVEL was rushed through the House of Commons following the 2014 referendum in a bid to appease Tory backbenchers. The initial fears by SNP MPs that Scottish MPs may not hold equal parliamentary rights have been reflected in the Westminster Procedures Committee report published today.
As a separate entity without input from the rest of the House - English MPs may veto legislative provisions which potentially impact levels of public expenditure in England - whereas Scottish MPs do not enjoy the same privilege to vote alone on matters affecting Scotland’s block grant.
SNP MP Patrick Grady, Member of the House of Commons Procedures Committee, said: “This damning report demonstrates fundamental flaws in the Tory’s English Votes for English Laws procedures, which were hastily introduced by David Cameron simply to keep his own backbenchers happy following Scotland’s independence referendum.
“The SNP has consistently argued that this system of EVEL effectively excludes MPs from Scotland having a say on major policy changes which can affect the Scottish Government’s block grant.
“The operation of procedures themselves has been a farce, with very few MPs in the Chamber understanding what’s going on, making the House of Commons business even more impenetrable to the public. It’s laughable that the MP who has spoken most often in the ‘Legislative Grand Committee’ which is supposed to give English MPs a voice is Pete Wishart, the SNP MP for Perth and North Perthshire.
“Theresa May has been quick to ditch large swathes of David Cameron’s legacy. This report shows that she should dump the ridiculous EVEL procedures sooner rather than later."
SNP MP Patricia Gibson, Member of the House of Commons Procedures Committee, said: “The SNP is not opposed to the principle of English votes for English laws but as this report shows, the current system commands very little respect across the House of Commons.
“The Tory Government forced through the introduction of this system last year, in the face of opposition from every other party in the House of Commons. The report makes it clear that the system needs urgent and far-reaching reform, and must address the concerns of MPs from all the constituent nations of the United Kingdom.
“This Tory Government has shown little interest in taking forward recommendations from Committees of the House of Commons so far, but if it chooses to ignore this report that has been agreed on a cross-party basis - it will do so at its peril. It must show respect for the Committee’s views and bring forward significant reforms of the failed EVEL procedures, and restore the ability of MPs from Scotland to vote on all aspects of legislation that may affect their constituents."
The report found that: “The new EVEL procedures do not command the respect and support across all parties that they should if the system is to be sustainable through the political stresses it must expect to face in the future. This is not a sound basis for a major long-term change to the legislative process in this House.” (Paragraph 76)