TORY ministers have been forced to come to the Commons to defend their attempt to bring in English votes for English laws (Evel) without changing the law amid accusations that they have “abused” their position.
Lib Dem former Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael has enacted a little-used parliamentary procedure, known as a section 24 motion, to force the UK government to defend its position in a three-hour debate.
It came as SNP Aberdeen North MP Kirsty Blackman revealed to MPs that a list of “England and Wales only” bills sent to her by the Leader of the House Chris Grayling included the Scotland Bill.
The move by the Lib Dem Orkney and Shetland MP was backed by a large number of Labour and SNP MPs when Speaker John Bercow asked if he had permission to bring the debate after outrage over the government’s plans to give English MPs a veto on many bills and votes which have a financial effect on Scotland.
Mr Carmichael achieved far above the 40 MPs required for the vote and the widespread backing in the House.
The debate will focus on the government’s decision to bring in major constitutional change by only altering standing orders - parliamentary rules - instead of bringing in a Bill.
Mr Carmichael said: “Let there be no doubt – we are dealing here with a major constitutional change.
“It is one which undermines a fundamental principle of the workings of this house – namely that no matter where we come from, once we get here, we are all equal.
He added: “To seek to do this in one day by amendment to our standing orders may be technically competent but it is still an abuse of process. It is constitutionally outrageous and I fear that it puts a further unnecessary strain on the union.”