Claims that measures create two-tier House
Commons backs Evel amid angry scenes
MPs agreed to give English MPs the power to veto English laws in a historic vote last night which has divided opinion over the future of the union.
The Commons voted the proposal through by 312 to 270 amid angry scenes and accusations across the floor.
Labour’s Gerald Kaufman, the longest-serving member of the house, described it as “a day of shame”.
But the leader of the house, Chris Grayling, argued that the changes would create a fairer Commons.
“I want the United Kingdom to remain secure and intact,” he told parliament. “It cannot be in any of our interests to see English people becoming cynical about the union and perhaps even wishing for its end.”
In practice the change is only likely to affect a handful of bills in the coming months, possibly no more than three or four.
However, the creation of a parliament within a parliament has brought accusations that the government has no respect for those MPs who will be excluded from some debates and has demoted them to the rank of second class MPs.
SNP members Pete Wishart (pictured) told the House: “Scotland is watching this, and the mood is darkening.”
Scottish and Welsh MPs are not alone in opposing the new rules, known as English votes for English laws (Evel). The Commons procedure committee, chaired by the Conservative MP Charles Walker, called the proposals “over-engineered and potentially burdensome”.
The SNP said that many pieces of legislation that appear only to relate to England will also affect Scotland, such as plans for airport expansion.
The government argues that the Evel is a measure designed to answer the West Lothian question which denies English MPs a right to vote on matters devolved to Scotland and Wales, such as health and education.