English Votes for English Laws (“EVEL”) is a Westminster focussed political gimmick not a constitutionally valid solution to the “English Question” and cannot work for the following reasons:-
- If EVEL is introduced without legislation it would be merely a procedural Convention, without the force of law. It is much easier to change Conventions than to repeal Acts of Parliament.
- EVEL does not address who governs England (The English Question) and would lead to a situation whereby a non-English Minister could propose legislation but be unable to speak or vote in support of it. The Prime Minister (“PM”) appoints Ministers for English Departments. These appointees may be, and have been, from parts of the UK that are devolved and such Ministers are thus unaccountable to those whom their policies and actions affect. Similarly a PM can, and has had, control of all English matters even though they do not affect his own constituents.
- EVEL does not address the issue of who scrutinises and revises laws for England. Uniquely in the UK it is only English domestic law that is passed to the House of Lords, many of the members of which are not from England.
- (As in 1964) EVEL will create problems if a government is elected without a majority in England, in any such case the UK government would find it very difficult to pass legislation on matters that only affect England and would be impelled to break the EVEL Convention.
- EVEL will not provide a voice for England either with regard to “Reserved matters” concerning, for instance, the distribution within the UK of Treasury funds nor in international fora such as the British/Irish Council or the EU. In contrast, each of the devolved administrations has both UK Secretaries of State and also Ministers within the devolved Executives to champion the interests of their citizens in these meetings and to influence the outcomes in their own countries’ favour.
- All Members of Parliament (“MPs”) at Westminster should be elected equally across the UK to represent their constituents in the UK Parliament. EVEL will create two classes of MPs in Westminster. However since devolution Westminster MPs do not equally represent their constituents in all matters as they should do. There are now two categories of MP with reference to devolved matters; accountable and unaccountable. Some are accountable to the electorate that voted for them in all matters and some are not, namely those that have the power to debate and vote on English matters that do not concern their constituents.
- EVEL is an unequal and short-term fix for a long-term problem. The constitution of the United Kingdom was unbalanced by Devolution and only a rational, coherent and logically defensible Federal system can realistically be expected to halt the slide towards the dissolution of the UK.