Only letting English MPs vote on legislation affecting the country has 'not served Parliament well', Michael Gove says

Only letting English MPs vote on legislation affecting the country has “not served Parliament well”, Michael Gove has claimed.

Michael Gove criticised the English votes for English laws rule
Michael Gove criticised the English votes for English laws rule

The Cabinet Office minister confirmed on Thursday morning the UK Government wants to scrap English votes for English laws, known as Evel, and will bring forward a motion to do so.

The SNP and Scottish Conservatives have long opposed the mechanism for creating “two tiers” of MPs, with Scottish Tory MPs having pushed for its abolition since 2017.

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Speaking during Cabinet Office questions, Mr Gove explained the rule would be scrapped.

He told MPs: “My department along with the Leader of the House have been reviewing the English votes for English laws procedure.

“The procedure has been suspended since April 2020 and, having reflected on the procedure, the Government believes it has not served our Parliament well and that removing it would simplify the legislative process.

“It’s a fundamental principle that all constituent parts of the United Kingdom should be equally represented in Parliament.

“Any changes of course would be for the House to decide and we’ll bring forward a motion in due course.”

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EVEL was introduced in the aftermath of the 2014 independence referendum to stop Scottish MPs from voting at Westminster on devolved issues like health and education.

Senior Tories were previously rumoured to oppose the plans, citing concerns it could undermine the legitimacy of any government elected without a majority of English seats.

Thérèse Coffey, the work and pensions secretary, and Gavin Williamson, education secretary, are both believed to have argued against the plans.

They are also said to worry it would leave future governments vulnerable to English laws imposed against their will.

Last year Nationalists were accused of staging a “transparent stunt” after trying to force through their votes on amendments to the NHS Funding Bill, which is designated as England-only legislation because health is devolved.

Several votes were delayed when the SNP joined opposition MPs from England in the division lobby in an attempt to have their votes counted, and held up signs reading, ‘Hear no EVEL’, ‘See no EVEL’, ‘Speak no EVEL’.

The SNP have since rejected the plans as “constitutional tinkering”, demanding independence instead.

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