Mr Redwood’s interventions during the debate on English Votes on English Laws, 7 July 2015

John Redwood (Wokingham) (Con): Why did the Labour party ignore the needs and voices of England when it first created lopsided devolution, and why has it come up with absolutely no ideas to meet the requirements and needs of England in 18 years of lopsided and unfair devolution?

Ms Angela Eagle (Wallasey) (Lab): I would not have given way to the right hon. Gentleman had I realised that he has only just come into the Chamber and has missed the rest of the debate. The answer to his question was given earlier when he was not attending.

John Redwood: Is it not a good sign that we have had the Scottish Parliament for some years now and there have been no great issues about deciding what is a Scottish matter? If it is possible to know what is a Scottish matter, it must be equally easy to know what is an English matter.

Mr Charles Walker (Broxbourne) (Con): My right hon. Friend makes a good point that I am sure will be appreciated by both sides of the House—as he is appreciated by both sides of the House.

John Redwood: Will the hon. Gentleman confirm that his party has had a policy of not voting on English issues, and that it has been able to identify the issues not to vote on?

Pete Wishart (Perth and North Perthshire) (SNP): That is exactly the point that I was coming to. There are ways of dealing with it. I suggested a solution in the form of federalism, but I did not sense any warmth towards that proposal from the Government Benches, so let us try another way. The right hon. Gentleman is right: we do not vote on English-only legislation. What we do is this. Every time a Bill is introduced, we scour it for the Scottish interest. We look for the Barnett consequential issues, and we establish whether it will have an impact on Scotland. If it will not have that impact, we leave it alone. We stay well away: of course we do. With all due respect to my English friends, I have better things to do than scour legislation about policing arrangements in Plymouth when I am looking after the people of Perth and North Perthshire.

As the right hon. Gentleman says, if there is no Scottish interest, we take no interest ourselves. How about building on that? How about saying. “This is a voluntary arrangement that seems to work reasonably well; why do we not continue to pursue it?” There may be issues on which the Leader of the House and I do not entirely agree, but surely we could try to resolve them by means of a voluntary arrangement, without creating two classes of Member of Parliament in the House of Commons. Why should that not be a solution?

John Redwood: Is not the asymmetry in the new proposals still against England, not against Scotland? The Scottish Parliament can vote any law it likes within its powers, whereas English MPs will not be able to do that in this Parliament.

Mr Jacob Rees-Mogg (North East Somerset) (Con): That is of the greatest importance. The English must recognise that if we want the Union to maintain, we must not require exact parity. The United Kingdom is 85% English, and the English demanding exact parity is the way to destroy the Union. The English, in this context, have to be generous. It is important that we remember that; otherwise we destroy the Union that we are seeking to protect. That is why Standing Orders are important—they can be reversed. If the Opposition Members had a majority, whatever form of coalition it took, they could suspend Standing Orders on a single vote to proceed with the business they want—[Interruption.] The hon. Member for Rhondda (Chris Bryant) is shaking his finger at me and getting frightfully exercised, but we see Standing Orders suspended on a regular basis. Standing Orders have been suspended to rush through Bills in a single day, and they are suspended almost weekly on minor matters so that deferred Divisions do not take place. Standing Orders are not constitutional holy writ; they are a mild way of making an alteration.

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  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, He graduated from Magdalen College Oxford, has a DPhil and is a fellow of All Souls College. A businessman by background, he has been a director of NM Rothschild merchant bank and chairman of a quoted industrial PLC.

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