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?
Please note that this blog piece was originally published on Colin Talbot’s personal blog on 20 April 2015, and is available here.
By Colin Talbot
The SNP are claiming they can ‘block Labour budgets’, ‘end austerity’ and ‘stop Trident’. Their problem however is simple – most of what they say is based on assuming that Westminster works the same way as Holyrood does for budgeting – and it doesn’t.
There are huge ‘constitutional’ and practical obstacles to implementing the sort of radical challenges to Government tax and spend decisions that the SNP and others seem to be mooting. Continue reading
On 26 March, its final sitting day, the House of Commons rejected government proposals to reform how the Speaker is elected at the start of the new parliament. Here Meg Russell reflects on what this teaches us about parliament, suggesting it holds two lessons. First, that the 2010 House of Commons was more resistant than its predecessors to government dominance; but second, that further reform is still needed to reduce that dominance.
Please note this blog piece was originally published on the Constitution Unit blog.
By Louise Thompson
One of the key targets outlined in last month’s Digital Democracy Commission report was that the House of Commons should make sure that everyone can understand what it does. One of the examples it gave to demonstrate this was the rather arcane language still used during Parliament’s scrutiny of legislation. As someone who spends most of their time reading bill committee transcripts, I completely understand where they are coming from. How can we expect members of the public to know what MPs mean when they ask to ‘move’ or ‘speak to’ an amendment? Or what it actually means if a clause ‘stands part of a bill’ or an MP asks to ‘beg leave to withdraw the amendment’? And this is all before we get to starred amendments, manuscript amendments and clause stand part debates. Such language, the report says, is a ‘barrier to understanding’. Continue reading