SNP: rushing through English votes for English laws is democratic outrage

Houses of Parliament

David Cameron has been accused by the Scottish National party of plotting a “democratic outrage” by trying to rush through new powers for English MPs to have a veto on English laws before parliament’s summer break.

Angus Robertson, the SNP’s Westminster leader, said the proposals would give Scottish MPs second-class status in the House of Commons without proper democratic scrutiny.

It is understood the plans for English votes for English laws (known as Evel) will be finally brought forward on Thursday, although John Bercow, the Speaker of the Commons, said he had not yet been notified of any proposals to restrict Scottish voting rights.

The SNP was already angered by the government’s intention to introduce English-only votes by amending the standing orders of the Commons, without the necessity for legislation or lengthy debate. It could require just a single vote by MPs to be enacted, rather than the months of scrutiny a new law would entail.

However, the party is now seething that the plans could be pushed through swiftly before the summer recess, just weeks after the general election brought 56 SNP MPs to parliament.

Robertson said: “I have written to the prime minister to raise these very serious concerns and have called for an urgent clarification of the UK government’s plans. The ramifications of Evel would be far-reaching – an issue with such magnitude must be properly considered, scrutinised and debated. We face the prospect of MPs being barred from specific votes, hindering our rights to represent our constituents properly.

“Restricting the voting rights of some MPs could be the single biggest change to the rights of MPs in decades – and doing so without following the appropriate parliamentary procedure is totally unacceptable.

“SNP MPs already don’t vote on English-only legislation which has no financial impact on Scotland. We don’t need a change of the rules to determine what we can and can’t vote for. We certainly cannot have this rushed through without proper consideration of all the consequences.”

Chris Grayling, the leader of the House of Commons, defended the proposals for Evel in a speech at Central Hall in Westminster. He said: “Why should Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish MPs vote on English measures that affect English constituencies in matters that are wholly devolved to the administrations in their own countries, and where English MPs have no reciprocal say?”

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Rowena Mason Political correspondent, for theguardian.com on Tuesday 30th June 2015 18.00 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010