Scots to lose say on England-only bills - report

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LEGISLATION that only affects England should normally need backing from a majority of English MPs, a government report has said.

The McKay Commission was launched last year to consider the West Lothian Question –the ability of politicians from Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales to vote in the Commons on issues that do not impact on their constituents.

The row has been rumbling since Irish home rule in the 19th century, but intensified with Labour’s devolution agenda.

In 2004, support from Scottish and Welsh MPs was the only reason the government managed to push through university top-up fees in England.

The commission has concluded that the current situation is “unsustainable”, and changes are needed.

It has proposed the principle that Commons decisions with a “separate and distinct effect” for England should “normally be taken only with the consent of a majority of MPs sitting for constituencies in England”.

The same would go for decisions that only affected England and Wales.

The report said the principle should be enshrined in a resolution of the House, and suggested a range of procedural changes to entrench the approach.

Specific parliamentary time could be allocated to debating plans for England, and MPs given an opportunity to vote on motions endorsing or rejecting them.

Committees for scrutinising bills could also be weighted to represent the party balance in England.

However, the commission dismissed as “flawed and impractical” a more drastic change of requiring England-only legislation to get a majority of English MPs as well as an overall majority.

Instead of such a “double lock”, it has floated a “double count”, where the proportion of English MPs supporting a bill would be published alongside the overall result.