Treasury committee chair backs English laws plan

23 Jan 15

The chair of the Treasury select committee has backed the creation of a grand committee to implement a system of ‘English votes for English laws’, which could also have responsibility for local government finance settlements.


In a report for the Centre for Policy Studies, Andrew Tyrie said there must be a change to the current arrangements under which Scottish MPs are able to vote on health and education policy in England. English MPs have no reciprocal influence on Scottish policy because these areas have been devolved to Holyrood.

With extra powers planned for the Scottish Parliament, it would untenable for the government not to answer the so-called West Lothian Question, Tyrie said in a report with Roger Gough, a former constitutional advisor to the Conservative Party.

Analysing the four options put forward by the government last month, Tyrie backed the creation of a new legislative stage whereby a policy judged by the House of Commons speaker to affect only England would need the approval of English MPs through a legislative consent motion. In plans set out in December, the government said this grand committee could also have other functions, including determining the distribution of expenditure within England, such as local government finance or police grants.

‘What is needed is a proposal that, as well as providing the English with the protection they need, maximises the incentive for negotiation between a UK government and English MPs, is fair to all the constituent parts of the UK and, as a result, is able to secure the widest possible consent across the Union,’ Tyrie said.

‘Albeit by a short head, the White Paper option providing for a legislative consent motion at the end of the legislative process – together with an English grand committee – best delivers these objectives,’ Tyrie added.

Gough noted that a grand committee deciding whether or not to grant consent had ‘a simplicity and clarity’ that could be understood

‘It would also be a strong and very visible demonstration that Parliament was giving English concerns and interests their proper place in its work.’

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