SNP: English votes for English laws '˜absurd'

SNP MPs have hit out at what they called the 'absurd', 'over convoluted and shamefully partisan' move towards English Votes for English Laws (Evel).

Peter Wishart SNP MP.

The party also branded Evel “a bureaucratic, cumbersome, misunderstood nightmare”, as protests continued about the major procedural change.

The changes introduced in October 2015 aim to address the so-called West Lothian question, and ensures English and Welsh MPs must consent to legislation that only affects those countries.

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Commons Leader David Lidington defended the changes, saying it was “a matter of justice”.

But speaking during questions to the Leader of the House, the SNP’s Ian Blackford (Ross, Skye and Lochaber) said: “Yesterday the Leader of the House announced a review of last year’s change to standing orders, which implemented the absurd Evel, English Votes for English Laws, process, which disenfranchises non-English MPs.

“Will the leader restore equality for MPs by removing the over convoluted and shamefully partisan Evel procedure from standing orders, and make sure all MPs in this House are equal?”

In response, Mr Lidington said: “I’m disappointed that members from the Scottish National Party seem unable to comprehend that it’s a matter of justice, that legislation affecting only England should command the support of the majority of Members of Parliament from England.”

Later in the debate he added: “The changes are a demonstration of the Government’s commitment to ensuring justice is done to members of all parts of the United Kingdom.

“The Evel arrangements apply only in respect of legislation or of amendments or statutory instruments which cover matters which are devolved in Scotland, over which this House has no say and no jurisdiction, but which are a matter for this House to determine in respect of England.

“It is only right that English members should exercise the veto that these arrangements provide.”

However, the SNP’s Pete Wishart (Perth and North Perthshire) also criticised Evel, saying it “has been a bureaucratic, cumbersome, misunderstood nightmare which has divided this House on the basis of nationality and geography”.

He added: “Given the Government has a majority in both England and in the rest of the United Kingdom, what difference has this useless apparatus made to any legislative income?”