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M-1: Amendment to the Standing Orders (EVEL)

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M-1: Amendment to the Standing Orders (EVEL)
#1
Dispensation from the "Cabinet Ministers may not move motions" rule given by Ed and James. This motion pertains a Standing Orders amendment.

Mr Speaker,

I beg to move:

Quote:That this house amends the Standing Orders to direct the Speaker to certify whether a bill, a clause or a schedule of any bill relates to England, to England and Wales or is within devolved legislative competence; directs that there be legislative grand committees for England and for England and Wales and that the relevant legislative grand committee for a bill, clause or schedule as certified by the Speaker shall consider a consent motion on the bill, clause or schedule concerned; such a consent motion must be passed before a motion to move to third reading is considered.

Mr Speaker, I rise to present a proposed amendment to the Standing Orders to settle a long-standing constitutional question that is known under the (slightly nebulous, if you ask me) label of the West Lothian Question. This, however, is much preferable to this amendment being known as the EVEL amendment, with all the checking up in Hansard that the acronym entails.

Jokes aside, Mr Speaker, the West Lothian Question is an extremely serious question that has been ongoing for decades and has, with the hopefully impending passage of the Scotland Act, once more come to the fore. In short, the question is whether in the conduct of some matters on which this House technically functions as a Parliament for England or England and Wales, voting on such matters should not be reserved to the representatives of those parts of our United Kingdom. On this side of the House at least, we believe that with the increasing powers of the Scottish Parliament, it would be more democratically legitimate for such decisions to require the codecision of those it directly concerns - the elected representatives of the people of England and Wales.

We are aware of the concern that implementing EVEL would relegate some of the members of this House to a second class. I would like to make two points with regard to that concern. The first is that implementing EVEL is merely the logical conclusion of a constitutional evolution spanning two decades. The creation of the devolved assemblies itself results in asymmetries of power within this House and between this House and other parliamentary bodies we co-exist with. It can be argued that we are introducing a measure of symmetry to the system without resorting to the creation of an English Parliament - which would have far-reaching and largely undesired consequences for the union. Should that argument not be pleasing to honourable members, then I shall say this: the text we present to you today is especially geared towards mitigating just this concern. We do not want to create two classes of MPs. Therefore, we have opted to introduce a codecision mechanism in which MPs from the parts of our country to which the bill extends get to scrutinise the bill as it applies before third reading, rather than at third reading.

In effect, the text of the amendment as offered today creates a special version of the report stage at which the consent of the representatives of the nations to which the bill extends is required for the bill to advance. In effect, we could consider this analogous to the constitutional mechanism of a consent motion being moved in a devolved assembly. It is, in my opinion, the optimal way to finally address this longstanding question without overhauling the entire way this House works or create new bodies. In that spirit, I commend this motion to the House.

Mr Speaker,

Time will be allocated for division on this matter.
the Rt Hon. Elaine Ashbury MP | Norwich North (2009-present)
Secretary of State for Education (2015-present)
Chairwoman of the Conservative Party (2015-present)
Leader of the House of Commons (2015-present)

"The way to lose everything we have is to hold on to everything we have."
- Mark Rutte
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#2
Mr Speaker,

The Right Honorable lady is right to say we must come up with a solution to the 'West Lothian' question. However I'm afraid she is wrong to suggest that so called "EVEL" is the 'logical conclusion of a constitutional evolution spanning two decades.' It also does not as she sought to persuade us, resolve the relegation of our Scottish colleagues to second class MPs. In fact all it is a logical conclusion of, is a party that wants to sideline an entire nation because it represents an inconvenience to itself. She also claims the path of devolution will create asymmetries, that is only if we half heartedly approach it, a comprehensive long term devolution of power to the regions and nations of this country can avoid the mentioned asymmetries with a push towards a federal UK. She also says that she wants to allow MPs from the regions effected greater scrutiny over bills, fantastic. Can we then ask the London MPs to scrutinise the third runway at Heathrow? Or indeed any MP that represents a constituency on that flight path?

Mr Speaker, I also don't know how the Scottish MPs sitting opposite will be able to look their constituents in the eye once they relegate themselves to second class status? People in this country want to know that politicians are listening to their local interests and I can't imagine how they'll spin weakening their own position as fighting for their constituents interest. Ultimately the effect of the changes as they stand will be to accelerate the disintegration of this country, the Scotland Bill allows us to keep our promises to Scotland, but to then turn around and relegate their MPs to second class is not going to have the desired effect. Nor is this enough to satisfy the English and Welsh side of the West Lothian question, all it does is add an extra layer to decision making that doesn't need to be there. It doesn't give people a say on local affairs, it doesn't give the English more control. Only democracy and the extension of it to the regions can solve this problem.

That is why Mr Speaker, I implore members on all sides of this house, particularly our colleagues from Scotland regardless of party to stand against this and try to legitimately solve the issues that have been raised.
James Clifton MP | Nottingham North (1987-Present) | Labour Leader (2015-)

"This idea that politics is all about charisma and spin is rubbish. It is trust that matters." - Tony Benn
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#3
Mr. Speaker,

This is dressed up as a solution to the West Lothian question, but that doesn't seem the primary objective, and I think many of the proponents of this know that already. One only need read the text of the motion to discover the true purpose here. I shall summarize.

The motion asks for the creation of legislative "grand committees" that would be required to give their consent to an Act before it could move to second or third reading. All that is required for an Act to be subject to a consent motion is that it "relate to England and Wales" or that it may have to be carried out by English or Welsh assemblies or councils. This language is vague enough that any bill proposing to do just about anything could be subject to one of these consent motions; indeed, the burden of proof would rest on the individual proposing the measure to show that England and Wales weren't burdened by their bill in some way that the grand committee would take offense to.

But the worst part of this motion is what is not included, Mr. Speaker, most notably a way for the grand committee to give or not give its consent to a bill that they have determined "relates to England or Wales." There is nothing suggesting the grand committee would have to divide on any question put before it. Theoretically, the grand committee could mandate that any bill making it past their scrutiny would need to do so on near unanimous support. If not, the proposal could never reach a vote in this House. Mr. Speaker, this motion does not propose a solution to the West Lothian problem. It proposes a method for a minority of MPs to prevent a piece of legislation from reaching the floor of this House. It is, in essence, a filibuster. And it has no place in the British constitutional system. This motion should be withdrawn immediately, and those MPs that seek a real solution to West Lothian should provide one that is not such a transparent attempt to completely rewrite the standing rules of the House.
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#4
(OOC: The real amendment was about 80 pages, we can only contain so much in this motion version of it. I therefore really can't defend it on procedural details like do we divide on questions or not, since the instrument we had to use in-game just didn't allow such detail.)

Mr Speaker,

How disappointing that when they finally come to Parliament to defend their position, it turns out their position is a u-turn! Mere months ago, every single member on the opposite side of the house stood on a manifesto promising to implement the recommendations of a committee that are the basis of the motion for the House today. They should be ashamed of themselves!

In fact, it's pretty clear that they know this themselves, seeing all the grasping at straws they are doing. But the most audacious, the most outrageous accusation I have heard come out of the mouth of the Leader of the Opposition today is that we are doing this for political gain. That is unworthy of him and of this house and I could raise a point of order for questioning my integrity like that. I will however entertain him and show him that he is wrong. It is true that our party is weak in Scotland, but correlation does not equal causation. We have been growing in Scotland since the independence referendum, and I need not talk about his party.

The fact of the matter remains this: if he believes it is right for English MPs to have to submit to the consent of their Scottishg peers on, say, the policies governing the NHS in England, will he go to Holyrood and demand on behalf of the people of Nottingham that MSPs submit to the consent of his constituents in Nottingham? The argument that Scottish voters are being degraded or offended in the exercise of their democratic rights is an absurd non-sequitur. In fact, the process we now propose is similar in intent to a motion moved in a devolved parliament on bills within their competence. I do not see any problem except that the leader of the opposition needed a reason on the fly to abandon the promises he made to his constituents in Nottingham, and a shoddy one it is.

A similar absurdity is proposed of extending this principle to similar individual constituencies. It is an ad absurdum which I will not even entertain as it is quite simply not the motion we present today.

Now to the proposed alternative: assemblies. The latest evidence we have from when Labour tried to introduce these in areas that should theoretically have been very favourable to them, they got rejected by an overwhelming majority. With the new top-down mentality coming out of the Labour leadership, I should not be surprised that the whims of the right honourable gentleman for Nottingham North will be allowed to overrule not just the manifesto he was elected on but the expressed will of the people of England who were asked whether they wanted assemblies, and returned a resounding no.

Meanwhile, Scotland has asked for more powers and we are all agreed that they should get them. Then why does the opposition keep delaying the West Lothian Question's long overdue solution even as asymmetries in our country increase? The only route that will tear the union further apart is tarrying with necessary, small reforms like these. Because we aren't asking for much. We aren't banning Scottish and Welsh MPs from voting on matters. All we are proposing is that an English or English-Welsh grand committee consent to bills affecting their constituents, bills for which the Scots and Welshmen would have their own devolved parliament. It's a simple solution that empowers the people of England through the representatives they already have - and I fail to see the problem with it.

Now to the comments by the honourable member. Any motion is made under the rules of this House. If a question is put before the House, the committee would then logically default to the standard procedure, being a voice vote followed if necessary by a division. That won't be different with these committees, I can assure him. Similarly, I trust in the impartiality of the Speaker to conduct these certifications with all due fairness. We hold the person in the chair in high esteem in this house, he represents all of us impartially and I see no reason therefore that the proposed mechanism could be used as a filibuster.
the Rt Hon. Elaine Ashbury MP | Norwich North (2009-present)
Secretary of State for Education (2015-present)
Chairwoman of the Conservative Party (2015-present)
Leader of the House of Commons (2015-present)

"The way to lose everything we have is to hold on to everything we have."
- Mark Rutte
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#5
Mr Speaker,

Unless the opposition has anything more to add, I pray this motion now advance to division.
the Rt Hon. Elaine Ashbury MP | Norwich North (2009-present)
Secretary of State for Education (2015-present)
Chairwoman of the Conservative Party (2015-present)
Leader of the House of Commons (2015-present)

"The way to lose everything we have is to hold on to everything we have."
- Mark Rutte
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#6
ORDER!

DIVISION
Edward
Special Advisor for the Treasury and Foreign Office
Advisor for the Labour Party

"If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in 5 years there'd be a shortage of sand." ~ Milton Friedman
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#7
Aye
Diana Edwards.
Founder & Leader of the Social Union Party.
MP for Crosby (1997-2010) & Sefton Central (2010-).
Chief Secretary to the Treasury (2005-2006).
SOS for Work and Pensions (2006-2009) & Business, Innovation and Skills (2009-2010).
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#8
Aye
Nick Brazier - Conservative Party
Member of Parliament for Hemel Hempstead
Chancellor of the Exchequer (2015-present)
Government Chief Whip (2015-present)
Former Secretary of State for Justice (2012-2015)


In 1970s round:
Robert Brazier - Conservative Party
Member of Parliament for South West Hertfordshire
Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer (1974-present)


In 1990 round:
Victor Brazier - Conservative Party
Member of Parliament for Worthing
Chief Secretary to the Treasury (1988-present)
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#9
No
Lucas Hamilton
Labour MP for West Ham 2010-Onwards
Deputy Leader of the Labour Party: 2015-Onwards

Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer: 2015-Onwards
Mayor of London: 2000-2008
______
'Emergencies' have always been the pretext on which the safeguards of individual liberty have been eroded. - Friedrich Hayek
Underlying most arguments against the free market is a lack of belief in freedom itself. - Milton Friedman
Nothing is so permanent as a temporary government program. - Milton Friedman
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#10
No
Rt. Hon. George Michael Cosmatos MP

Member of Parliament for Birmingham Ladywood
Shadow Home Secretary
Labour Party
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#11
AyE
Angela Holmes
Conservative MP for Bracknell (2010-Present)
Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs and Defence (2015-Present)
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#12
No
Roger J. Massingley
Member of Parliament for Leeds West (1992 - )
Shadow Secretary of State for Health and Welfare (2015 - )
Opposition Chief Whip (2015 - )
Labour Party
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#13
Aye
James Black
Secretary of State for Transport (2010-2015)
MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip (2005-Present)
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#14
Aye
the Rt Hon. Elaine Ashbury MP | Norwich North (2009-present)
Secretary of State for Education (2015-present)
Chairwoman of the Conservative Party (2015-present)
Leader of the House of Commons (2015-present)

"The way to lose everything we have is to hold on to everything we have."
- Mark Rutte
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#15
No
James Clifton MP | Nottingham North (1987-Present) | Labour Leader (2015-)

"This idea that politics is all about charisma and spin is rubbish. It is trust that matters." - Tony Benn
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#16
No
Emma Hollens
MP for Lewisham Deptford (2015 - )

"Progress is a nice word. But change is its motivator. And change has its enemies." 
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#17
Aye
The Rt. Honourable Andrew Hammond QC MP
Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom & First Secretary of State
Home Secretary
Member of Parliament for Sevenoaks
Conservative
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#18
No
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#19
Order!

The Ayes to the right, 379 , the Noes to the Left, 265. The Ayes have it, the Ayes have it

Conservative - 331/0/0
Labour - 33/0/200
SNP - 0/43
LD - 0/14
UKIP 4/0
Greens - 0/1
Plaid - 0/4
DUP - 8/0
UUP -  3/0
Independent - 0/2

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