‘England is completely ignored’: Campaigners call for English Parliament as EVEL is scrapped
Campaigners have called for an English Parliament after the House of Commons voted to scrap a rule that only allowed MPs in England to vote on matters which only applied to the country.
Prime Minister David Cameron had brought in English Votes for English Laws (known as EVEL) after the 2014 referendum on independence for Scotland.
It was however described as “unwieldy” and “baffling” by Leader of the House Jacob Rees-Mogg, who introduced the motion to ditch it yesterday.
Plaid Cymru MP said the law didn’t deliver a “meaningful voice for English voters” and described it as “a fix, not a solution” while SNP MP Pete Wishart referred to it as “another Tory policy disaster”.
Campaign for an English Parliament however said that the abandonment of EVEL showed that England now needed its own political institutions.
“English votes for English laws has been the only response the UK government has ever made to the position of England in the present unbalanced constitution in which England, per se, has no presence,” said Scilla Cullen, the campaign’s director told the Express.
“England is the only nation in the whole of the west that does not have a national government, and I think that should be a source of shame.
“It seems to me this is an ideal time to set up a Government Department for England and to actually start to separate English affairs from the rest of the UK Government.
“Many of the current departments are for English only issues such as education, health and local government. England is just being completely ignored.
“We have an England football team, and we have various other England sports teams. If you can have an England sports team, why can’t you have an English government?”
Scilla Cullen however said that she was happy to see EVEL scrapped.
“One of the criticisms of English votes for English laws was that it reacted two classes of MPs but in fact, devolution created two classes of MPs,” she said.
“There are those that can only vote on English laws because they are English MPs and those in the rest of the country who can also vote in English laws but they can also influence what’s going on in their own country by talking to the devolved administrations.”
Speaking after EVEL was scrapped, Plaid Cymru’s Hywel Williams said that he had “sympathy” with he plight of the people of England.
“In the 1990s, the status of England had not figured sufficiently in the world view of the Labour architects of devolution. ‘Home Rule all round’ had been proposed in the 19th century,” he said.
“Indeed, it had appeared in the Labour party’s policy for the 1918 election. In 1997, however, England was overlooked—it was excluded from consideration. It was all too complicated.
“That devolution settlement has proved unstable. It was a fix, not a solution. English votes for English laws was an attempt to address this basic flaw in the post-devolution Union, but it too was a fix, not a solution.
“I think that EVEL was more of a symbolic concession to those Members who were constantly intruding English questions into devolution debates, and I do not think that it has ever delivered a meaningful voice for English voters, so I have some sympathy with the current proposal.
“Abolishing EVEL will not address the growing problem of accommodating people in England within a post-devolution United Kingdom.
“Even the reforms that I have outlined very briefly would only place an additional check on what is a flawed system. What we really need is independence for Wales – and no more fixes.”