A LEADING Tory MP has called on the Government to finally answer the ‘West Lothian Question’.
The issue - which refers to whether MPs from Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, sitting in the House of Commons, should be able to vote on matters that affect only England - is being raised by Andrew Tyrie, MP for Chichester and the chairman of the Treasury Select Committee.
In a report published today, he urges the government to finally answer the West Lothian Question.
In a report called Voice and Veto: Answering the West Lothian Question, published by the Centre for Policy Studies, the MP argues that as constitutional reform continues in the aftermath of the Scottish independence referendum, English interests must now be protected.
Mr Tyrie warns that the recommendations of the 2013 McKay Commission offer inadequate protection for English interests, and that alternative proposals for an English Parliament have a high risk of jeopardising the Union.
Instead, Mr Tyrie argues that:
For the relevant Bills, both the Public Bill Committee and Report stage should be ‘English only’ and that – in contrast to McKay – the government should not be able to amend bills at Report Stage.
This would enable English MPs to protect English interests and would give both the government and English MPs an incentive to negotiate and compromise where they differed.
A similar approach was a central recommendation of the 2008 report by the Conservative Party’s Democracy Task Force, led by Ken Clarke MP.
Mr Tyrie MP said: “The McKay Commission’s approach will be unacceptable to English opinion, and rightly so. Its lack of an ultimate veto power would mean that the English could still have legislation foisted on them that largely or entirely affects only them. It is clear that the West Lothian Question is not answered by McKay.
“Equally, the leap to an English Parliament represents an unnecessarily radical and disruptive approach, alien to the British tradition of constitutional reform, carrying huge attendant risks.
“Action must be taken now. The call for English Votes for English Laws is not a narrow sectional demand, still less a slogan.
“It is a statement of the minimum necessary to stabilise the Union in the long term. The Cabinet Committee’s essential task is to identify how this is to be done.”