More powers are being given to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. As they get greater control over their own affairs does this mean English MPs should have English Votes for English Laws (EVEL)?
Though the system means it takes an age to get anything done, there are plenty of opportunities for MPs to raise concerns if they don’t agree with the bill.
The Conservative government is trying to make a change called English Votes for English Laws. It’s a simple idea; only English MPs should have a say over matters which affect England only.
When a bill is announced, the Speaker will decide if the bill has sections which relate to England only, or England and Wales only. The first stages will go ahead as usual.
At Committee Stage, Bills are examined by small groups of MPs. The number of MPs who go on the Committee depends on how many MPs that party has in the country. So at the moment expect to see lots of Conservatives.
In the new system Bills which affect England would only be looked at by a Committee made up of MPs from English Constituencies. So MPs in Scotland wouldn’t get on the panel. See you later Scotland.
After this point English MPs (and Welsh MPs depending on the bill) will have two opportunities to veto or block the bill.
When the Bill goes to the House of Lords they may make changes. Any changes would need a “Double Majority” to pass into law. This means a majority of ALL MPs would have to vote YES to the changes; a majority of English and Welsh MPs would also have to vote YES.
Complicated? You have no idea.
Devolution; transferring powers from a higher authority (think: national government in Westminster) to a lower authority (think local government). The government gives away some of its power to local representatives.
At the moment most political power resides in Westminster, London. This is where the Houses of Parliament are, and where the decisions are made. After the Scottish Independence Referendum, where the Scots decided to stay in the UK, more powers were promised to Scotland.
The Smith Commission (which explored the different ways power could be given to Scotland) recommended that the Scottish parliament be given more controls of taxation and welfare.
You may hear the term “West Lothian Question” being thrown around. This refers to the fact that as more powers are handed over from Westminster, English MPs will have less say over matters in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. But Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish MPs do get a say over matters that affect England only. Sounds totally reasonable.
So to make the system a little fairer the government will introduce English Votes for English Laws.
Not surprisingly the Scottish National Party (they have ALL the power in Scotland) is pretty annoyed about this.
They see English Votes for English Laws as a way of cutting them out of the loop and a “cobbled together unworkable mess”. And of course this means everyone is talking about whether we will have another Scottish Independence Referendum. #IndyRef2 more like #tiredofthis?
Depending on which political party you support, English Votes for English Laws will mean different things to you.
Traditionally the Conservatives always do better in England than in other parts of the UK. Labour used to have a lot of power in Scotland and Wales; after this year’s election things have changed a bit.
However that doesn’t mean things can’t change again in the future.
If in the future we had a Labour/SNP coalition in government, the Conservatives could potentially block new laws on the NHS and Schools in England. This is because these are devolved issues, and under the new system, English MPs would get a greater say in what happens. As the Conservatives are likely to have more English MPs, under the new English Votes for English Laws system, they could make it very difficult for a potential Labour/SNP coalition.
Possible outcome; the government in power would not be able to make changes in England. This doesn’t sound so democratic to me.
The Small Print; the next election is five years away, and a LOT can happen between then. We don’t know who will be in government next. It’s possible (but maybe unlikely) that another party could win lots of seats in England. But a system which favours a particular party is probably a bad idea.
End Austerity! What even is austerity? Cuts to public services – the SNP want no more of it! Instead of cutting, the SNP will put in tiny increases into public spending of 0.5% for each year of parliament.
The SNP will have an additional £140 billion to play with to invest in things like the NHS and education (that’s across the whole of the UK, not just Scotland). They’ll find the money from introducing more taxes…
– Hello 50p tax rate for top earners – so those earning the most contribute more to help the most vulnerable.
– Bankers get ready to pay an extra tax on those nice bonuses you get.
– A bank levy (posh name for a tax).
– A mansion tax (posh name for a house worth over a certain amount, you’d be surprised what is considered a ‘mansion’ in London).
– A crackdown on tax avoidance.
– No more non-doms (Dick and Dom can stay).
Vote to increase NHS spending in the UK by £24 billion by 2021 – adding £2 billion to the NHS Scotland budget.
The SNP will always vote against any privatisation of the NHS in England.
Oppose plans to renew Trident nuclear weapons (explainer). Instead that £100 billion – yes £100 billion – can be invested into nice(r) things. Like better childcare. And better education. And of course: a better NHS.
Minimum wage is going up… £8.70 to be precise. Not immediately but by 2020.
The SNP support the living wage across the whole of the UK. The SNP also want you to know that the Scottish Government already pays all its employees the living wage (pat on the back), and it urges the UK government to do the same (you’ve been warned UK).
Say no to….cuts to Child Benefit. Instead increase benefits so that incomes of the poorest in society do not fall even further behind the cost of living. The SNP got ya back peeps.
Absolutely zero cuts to the Disability Living Allowance, and the SNP will always vote against it too.
So long Bedroom Tax, it’s been fun.
Increase Carer’s Allowance so it matches Jobseekers’ Allowance (explainer). Carer’s Allowance is currently £62.10 per week.
Guarantee free university education in Scotland, and support the reduction of fees in the rest of the UK.
Give Educational Maintenance Allowance in Scotland to 22,000 more pupils and part-time students.
30,000 more apprenticeships for young people.
Expand free nursery education from 16 hours a week to 30 hours a week.
The SNP love being part of the EU and they will do all they can to make sure it stays that way.
The Help to Buy scheme which helps people get their feet on that tricky housing ladder – SNP will support its growth and aren’t against it.
SNP aim: 100,000 more affordable homes a year in the UK.
End those infamous zero-hour contracts.
Encourage people on benefits back to work by supporting an increase of 20% in Work Allowance – aka the amount people are allowed to earn before their benefit is cut.
Review plans to change retirement age from 66 to 67… it will make a difference to when people can start receiving their pensions.
SNP will encourage the UK government to follow their lead on ambitious carbon reduction targets – that’s making the UK a cleaner and greener country for everyone.
Delay and suspend fracking.
Make me safe: 1,000 extra police officers.
50/50 Men and Women on public and private boards please.
Equal pay – is it that much to ask?
Females listen to this: no VAT on sanitary products!
Goodbye Lords: Hello new, ELECTED second chamber.
First Past The Post is so yesterday – the SNP call for Proportional Representation as the new voting system – that’s where a party is allocated a number of seats in Parliament that is directly proportional to the number of votes they gained nationwide.
The SNP want you to know they will ALWAYS support independence and want Scotland to be its own country in its own right (flashback to 2014 and the SNP losing that referendum).
In the meantime: SNP MPs in Westminster will use their influence to make sure Scotland get what they deserve – aka promises of greater powers are kept and put into action.
The Scottish Parliament would be completely responsible for all their monies.
The SNP are also pretty anti a Conservative government, just so you know. #enemies
YOU’VE HEARD THE 2015 SNP MANIFESTO.
THERE’S NOT LONG TO GO NOW… WHO WILL YOU VOTE FOR?
ELECTION DAY: MAY 7TH.
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