By Daniel Gover and Michael Kenny
It is now just over a year since the House of Commons adopted a new set of procedural rules known as ‘English Votes for English Laws’ (or EVEL). Put simply, EVEL provides MPs representing constituencies in England (or England and Wales) with the opportunity to veto certain legislative provisions that apply only in that part of the UK. (For a reminder of how the process works, see here.) Introduced with some fanfare by the Conservative government following the 2015 election – and criticised heavily by its political opponents – these procedures have quickly faded from public view. But, one year on, what lessons can be drawn from how EVEL has operated so far?
By Stephen Herbert
The process of parliamentary scrutiny of the recommendations of the Smith Commission and the subsequent Scotland Bill has provided insights into the challenges that implementing the now Scotland Act 2016 present. The Scotland Act 2016 provides for the devolution of a range of new competencies to Holyrood. However, the passage of the Act is significant not only for the powers it confers upon the Scottish Parliament and Government but also the shift in the structure of Scottish devolution that will be a consequence of the Act’s provisions. The 2016 Act will result in a shift from a system of largely separate and clearly demarcated boundaries in terms of the distribution of powers between Holyrood and Westminster to an increasingly shared distribution of powers in a range of policy areas, notably with regard to taxation and social security powers. This will result in a greater degree of inter-governmental working than has been the case to date and will also present challenges to legislatures in examining these relationships. The issues raised, in this regard, by this shift in the structure of devolution are considered here.
Please note that this piece was originally posted on the UCL Constitution Unit blog, and is available here.
By Daniel Gover and Michael Kenny
Yesterday MPs defeated the government by 317 votes to 286 on its proposals to relax Sunday trading rules. But although the policy would have applied only in England and Wales, the votes of Scottish MPs proved decisive. In this post Daniel Gover and Michael Kenny discuss the territorial dimensions to this episode, and why the recent ‘English Votes for English Laws’ reform did not help the government to pass its legislation.
By Graham Allen MP, Dave Richards and Martin Smith
Brian Barry suggested that: ‘…there has been a massive rise in the incidence of sanctimony and smugness among the successful that has nothing to do with any change in the underlying reality… It has been stimulated by politicians who have realised that it is possible to win power by recruiting the most … successful forty per cent or so of the population in a crusade to roll back the gains made by their fellow citizens in the previous forty years’. Written fifty years ago, the spirit, if not the empirical accuracy of this sentiment, still holds true. The Conservative Party have returned to power with an outright, yet slim majority. The turnout, though slightly up on previous elections at 66%, saw the Conservatives secure a 36.9% share. Read another way this means that only 24.7% of those eligible to vote did so for the new governing party. The Westminster model was, of course, always designed to deliver out right winners thanks to the machinations of the first-past-the post electoral system. In 2015, it can certainly be said to have done its job. But in an increasingly anti-political age, with a growing sense of cynicism with the ways and means of the Westminster system, it might be argued that a new government with such a precarious majority would be well served by operating with a public show of humility, not hubris. Continue reading