English Votes for English Law tackles West Lothian Question


In October 2015, the UK Parliament approved an amendment to its procedural rules to finally provide an answer to the famous “West Lothian question”.

The term refers to the fact that MPs representing Scottish constituencies at Westminster may vote on legislation which only affects England and has no effect on Scotland, while MPs from English constituencies have no similar powers over Scottish domestic legislation in the Scottish Parliament.

The “West Lothian question” was first raised by Tam Dalyell, MP for West Lothian and an opponent of plans to devolve powers to a Scottish Parliament, in a parliamentary debate on devolution 1977. Devolution was eventually brought in with the Scotland Act 1998, making the West Lothian question a practical constitutional anomaly.

The EVEL Solution

Various ideas have been floated over the intervening years for tackling the issue, but the Conservative Party proposed a solution known as English Votes for English Laws, or EVEL, within its 2015 election manifesto. The mechanics of the solution are relatively complicated. In simple terms, it means that any proposed legislation which affects either England only, or England and Wales only, and which deals with a subject which has been devolved to the Scottish Parliament, Northern Ireland Assembly or Welsh Assembly, must be consented to by a Grand Legislative Committee before proceeding through the House of Commons. This committee is made up of MPs representing England only, or England and Wales only. Once it has been approved by the Committee, the bill can be voted on by the full House of Commons in its third reading. Any amendments sent back to the House of Commons by the House of Lords must also be approved by English MPs, or English and Welsh MPs, in addition to the House as a whole.

QLTS MCT Assessment Impact

Candidates on the MCT in February 2016 (and beyond) are reminded that unless otherwise stated in advance, they are expected to apply the law as it stands on the date of the assessment.

Updates containing important new laws that have recently come into force, as well as recent case law, will be available to download on our MCT Online Training System shortly.

If you are signed up for the QLTS School MCT Course, log in to your online account, or check our MCT course packages and ensure you are well prepared for the assessment.

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