First meeting of the Legislative Grand Committee (England)

I spoke yesterday during the first meeting of the Legislative Grand Committee (England) following the passing of the English votes for English laws standing orders:

John Redwood (Wokingham) (Con): I rise to thank Ministers for taking England on its first step on the journey to justice and fairness for our country. Having participated in recent Parliaments and seen very large powers transferred to Scotland for self-government in accordance with the wishes of many Scottish people and their now vocal representatives from the SNP, I would have thought that on this day of all days it was time for Scotland to say, “We welcome some justice for England to create a happier Union, just as we have fought so strongly for so long for more independence for Scotland.” I hope that SNP Members will reconsider and understand that just as in a happy Union, where there are substantial devolved powers of self-government for Scotland that they have chosen to exercise through an independent Parliament, so there needs to be some independent right of voice, vote and judgment for the people of England, which we choose to do through the United Kingdom Parliament because we think we can do both jobs and do not wish to burden people with more expense and more bureaucracy.

On this day of all days, when Labour has been reduced to a party of England and Wales, having been almost eliminated from Scotland in this Parliament, I would have thought that the Front-Bench—[Interruption.] Our party is speaking for England. The point I am making is that now that the Labour party represents parts of England and Wales but has so little representation in Scotland, it behoves Labour Members to listen to their English voters and to understand that although they might not want justice for England, their voters do want it and are fully behind what this Government are doing.

Graham Stuart (Beverley and Holderness) (Con): I congratulate my right hon. Friend on the work that he has done for many years in championing the need for EVEL to be introduced. Does he agree that, given that they completely failed to persuade the Scottish people to end the Union, the greatest hope of the nationalists was that such would be the grievance and resentment in England that Scotland could be pushed out? Does he agree that this modest step is a way of alleviating that grievance, and that that is why the hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire (Pete Wishart) was quite so angry?

John Redwood: I entirely agree. We need fairness for England, in respect of the new financial settlement as well as our legislative procedures, but the way to preserve and develop the Union is to show that it is fair to all parts. I am sure that that will mean greater powers of independence for Scotland than we will gain for England, but we cannot ignore England. England deserves a voice, England deserves its votes, and England deserves, at the very least, the right to veto proposals that do not suit England but only affect England. I think that we shall need fair finances as well, because otherwise the English people will not be as happy with their Union as we should like them to be.

I hope that today is a day on which to advance the cause of the Union rather than to damage it. I hope that it is a day on which other Scots will welcome this small step on the road to justice for England, and will see that it helps them as well as us. What is wrong with England having a voice, its own political views, and some of its own political decision-making, in a Union in which Scotland took a great deal of that following the general election? In that election, all the main parties fought on the united proposition that there should be more rights to self-government for Scotland, but my party wisely said that that meant that there had to be some justice for England too. This is a small step towards that justice, and I hope the House will welcome it and not oppose it.

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25 Comments

  1. Richard1
    Posted January 13, 2016 at 10:50 am | Permalink

    There is some progress on Justice for England, thanks for your work on it on all our behalf. Clearly there is further to go, there needs to be same devolution to England (and Wales and N Ireland) as there is to Scotland. Hopefully it’s work in progress and in the coming years we will see real fairness.

    One thing though – it might be worth calling the Scottish Separtists’ bluff at some point and giving them another referendum, there is no chance that Scotland would vote for it with oil at $30.

    • Richard1
      Posted January 13, 2016 at 10:53 am | Permalink

      Whilst referenda should be decisive and once & for all, if there is another Scottish referendum then there will have to be another EU referendum. If it looks like there could be 2 EU referenda then those who favour a trading only EU relationship could vote out in the first and In in the second, once there is a real changed relationship on the table (which seems unlikely at present).

  2. JoolsB
    Posted January 13, 2016 at 11:17 am | Permalink

    John,
    In what way does English vetoes give England a voice when UK MPs with English seats will still not be able to propose legislation for England but merely veto, if they wish, any UK Government proposed legislation for England and as we all know, UK MPs, Tory, Labour and Lib Dum alike, will always vote along party lines anyway and not national lines. Is England to get a voice via a First Minister or a Secretary of State or even a seat on the UK/Irish Council as the other parts of this ‘United’ (?) Kingdom have? Thought not. Can EVEL be overturned by a future Labour or Labour/SNP Government at a stroke? Of course it can.

    English vetoes for English laws is a piecemeal offering from an Anti-English Prime Minister who but for the grace of England would not even be PM and England can see this sop of all sops for what it is – an insult and a giant slap in the face for the people of England. Cameron couldn’t even keep to his promise of English votes for English laws, itself a sop, but a slightly fairer proposal than what is of on offer now where UK MPs from Scotland, Wales & NI will still get to vote on English health, education and soon income tax and all the other devolved matters, bizarrely matters which they cannot vote on for their own constituents.

    Sorry John, but with respect, the handful of MPs who purport to give a dam about England should stop pretending this is in anyway fairness for England when you all know full well it is anything but.

    Reply A veto is a start, but as I stressed in the House yesterday we want more

    • JoolsB
      Posted January 13, 2016 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

      Reply to reply:
      One thing is certain John, English vetoes for English laws will go no further with Cameron and Osborne in charge. With serial ratter Cameron at the helm, no doubt even this will be conveniently parked in the longest grass at the first opportunity. After all he doesn’t want to upset the Scots does he?

      Just watched another nauseating episode of PM Questions. Whilst UK SNP MPs and UK Welsh MPs constantly (with a straight face) moan about the ‘rotten’ deals for their constituents, yet again not one of the UK MPs squatting in English seats could be bothered to mention England even when they know full well their comments only apply to England. With one eye constantly on their job prospects, all we hear from them are planted questions.

      Cameron has just boasted about the better devolution he has given to Wales and the fact the tripling of tuition fees did not affect student numbers knowing full well he is talking about UK student numbers of which of course Scots, Welsh & NI students are not affected by £9,000 fees. The irony is totally lost on him. Another stooge spouted on about ‘one nation’ Toryism. Don’t these plonkers realise we English, his constituents, think this one nation mantra is a load of b—–cks!!!!

      Tell me John, are all Tory MPs on strict instructions never to mention the word England, therefore following their leader’s example? How on earth can we expect these so called representatives of England to speak up for England in some back room when it’s anathema to them to ever speak up for England in public?

      Reply No, of course not. Ironical that you write this nonsense in response to my speech yesterday in the Commons in praise of England!

      • JoolsB
        Posted January 13, 2016 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

        Reply to reply:-
        Yes but unfortunately for England, you are a one-off John.

  3. CHRISTOPHER HOUSTON
    Posted January 13, 2016 at 11:37 am | Permalink

    I was listening and watching BBC Parliament yesterday. I heard you JR. But I also heard the SNP, over and over and over again it seemed.I admit my United Kingdom bias. But it does irk that the SNP speak almost exclusively in their own Scottish Parliament and every SNP MP and his dog stands up and speaks at the most flimsiest opportunity in the UK Parliament too.

    This time Peter Wishart SNP MP for Perth and North Perthshire,Chairman of the Scottish Affairs Select Committee evidently had quite an upsetting time, again and again and again, about the exclusion of Scottish MPs in matters exclusively to do with English affairs about which the SNP had previously indicated they had no interest.

    The SNP are terrified of course about an English Parliament. Secretly in cold fear they may get what they wish for: total independence. No Sassenaks to blame for their continued impotence. Historically, too frail of shoulder for responsibility.

  4. ian wragg
    Posted January 13, 2016 at 11:56 am | Permalink

    How do we define English legislation. Practically every time anything is debated it affects the Barnett formula so the whinging Scots can say it doesn’t apply.
    I am not holding my breath waiting for the first veto.

    Reply We have just approved the first England only measure.

  5. Denis Cooper
    Posted January 13, 2016 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

    When you write “which we choose to do through the United Kingdom Parliament”, JR, you should make it clear that this is the choice of politicians, in particular Tory politicians, and not necessarily the choice of the English people, who have not been asked about it. In Scotland and Wales and Northern Ireland there have been referendums aplenty about what the people want, but no referendum in England about what people in England want.

    Reply This was a prominent issue in the last election, and the Conservative party won on the proposal you now see

    • Peter Parsons
      Posted January 13, 2016 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

      “Won” by securing only 41% of the vote, which equated to only 27% of the English electorate. I agree with Denis – give the English electorate a say in how we wish to have decisions made rather imposing the view of a a single party whose mandate comes from the support of a minority.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted January 13, 2016 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

      Ah, yes, on page 49 out of 84 in the Tory manifesto for the last general election:

      https://s3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/manifesto2015/ConservativeManifesto2015.pdf

      which hardly anybody read, it said:

      “And we will introduce English votes for English laws, answering the longstanding West Lothian Question in our democracy.”

      But what has been in place is not even that proposal, it’s an even more pathetic sop, and it certainly doesn’t answer the West Lothian Question.

  6. Antisthenes
    Posted January 13, 2016 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

    It is an inalienable right for everyone to have the opportunity of self determination not always possible of course but those times when not should be very exceptional. SNP have fought for it with considerable success and now seek to deny others having the same right. At the same time wanting to give it away again by clinging to membership of the EU. The Labour party and others on the left if not so wholeheartedly also subscribe to this way of thinking and doing things.

    Is this not hypocrisy, dishonesty, putting self and party interest above that of their citizens and proof of muddled thinking writ large. Do these people not go in for self appraisal and in doing so find that their views and actions are so very wrong and so should feel ashamed of themselves. Democracy and freedom of choice are obviously concepts alien to them. They do not give a fig for those so decency is another attribute that they do not excel at. No wonder politicians have received a bad reputation. Many of them have earned it. It is a pity that it tars all politicians with the same brush as some are very decent and do fight for what is right and in the best interest of their constituents. On the evidence most of those are to be found in the Conservative party.

  7. Tad Davison
    Posted January 13, 2016 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

    We have our differences on the real rulers of the world John, and the inordinate power they exercise by totally avoiding democratic accountability, but on EVEL, you have my complete backing. Keep up the good work.

    Tad

  8. Yosarion
    Posted January 13, 2016 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    John is it true that the anti English Government is to abolish Visit England and rename it, Visit Britain?

    • Lifelogic
      Posted January 14, 2016 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

      If so they would be very foolish I think, just from a marketing point of view it is surely better to stick to England. Let the other countries do their own marketing with occasional links and suitable cooperation as needed.

  9. Ex-expat Colin
    Posted January 13, 2016 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

    Thank You..sir

  10. Mark B
    Posted January 13, 2016 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

    I do not ask for ‘Justice’ for England. I demand ‘parity’ with Scotland.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted January 14, 2016 at 10:51 am | Permalink

      But apparently the English do not deserve parity with the Scots.

  11. DaveM
    Posted January 13, 2016 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for all your efforts Mr R.

    I like to stay optimistic, and like the Welsh I believe that little steps lead to obstacles which in turn necessitate big leaps.

    I also appreciate that there is a reluctance to create an English Parliament (which is obviously the only way to achieve true fairness). However, would a First Minister for England (non-parliamentary) and a SoS REALLY be too much to ask? Just someone who (officially) speaks for England’s provinces and someone who speaks for us in the HoC. First SoS for England? John Redwood perhaps? There are so many easy ways for it to work.

    I notice there is a debate over an anthem for England. Not a bad thing, but I would prefer to keep GStQ for England and look for a new anthem for the UK.

  12. Old Albion
    Posted January 13, 2016 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

    Well done JR. You are at least trying to get English recognition, more than can be said for most (dis)UK MP’s

    • M Davis
      Posted January 14, 2016 at 9:35 am | Permalink

      Yes, thank you, Dr Redwood.

      One small step for the English.

      Now let us pray for one giant leap for England!

  13. Jon
    Posted January 13, 2016 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

    Congratulations, it gave me a good cheer to see a vote on English matters.

    Did someone say they felt pushed out? Shame.

    Any way maybe the small powers that there are could be a good thing. Scotland may well still leave the Union and we would want to preserve the rest of the Union. We should not follow Scotland so quickly, we were certainly right to dodge a separate Parliament to which they now want a second chamber to fund.

    Yes well done, there is no rush, lets see what Scotland does in the next 10 years.

  14. forthurst
    Posted January 13, 2016 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

    Let there be an English parliament in parallel with that of Scotland allocating a block grant whereby the Treasury would decide the total for all nations of the Union and the allocation to each, to be reallocated by each national parliament by spending department according to its national priorities.

    The suggestion that the Scots would head for the exit should the UK head for Brexit does not seem plausible: the economies of England and Scotland are far too integrated, the English would benefit to the disadvantage of Scotland from relief from Brussels’ meddling, the currency risk is dire, and would the Scots like to watch the English fishing their ancestral fishing grounds whilst their fish were hoovered up by Dutch factory ships?

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted January 14, 2016 at 11:05 am | Permalink

      From my perspective Heath taking the UK into the EEC, and over the especially strong opposition in Scotland, was one of the factors which kicked off the increased desire for Scottish independence, and leaving the EU would actually tend to have the opposite effect. Certainly if the UK as a whole was leaving, or had already left, the EU then the SNP would no longer have any hope of duping Scots into believing that an independent Scotland would automatically remain part of the EU. The simple legal fact is that the SNP do not have the power to decide that another independence referendum shall be held, let alone decide its timing, and if they were presented with withdrawal from the EU as a fait accompli then they would know that their case for independence was seriously weakened.

  15. forthurst
    Posted January 13, 2016 at 8:35 pm | Permalink

    “China imported a near record amount of commodities last month as prices for raw materials weakened to their lowest levels since the financial crisis.” FT

    Does this mean the Chinese have been bluffing to drive down prices and that is premature to divine prospects for the world economy on the Chinese having transitioned from a real economy to one in which they sell each other complex derivatives and file each others’ nails?

  16. Iain Moore
    Posted January 14, 2016 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    I am a bit of a political anorak , but if I haven’t a clue how this subterranean committee in the House of Commons is going to represent English peoples vetoes, then I doubt very much if the majority of the English electorate even know they exist. I have checked a few newspapers and and can’t see anything reported about this brave new era in English representative democracy . No reports of the Grand Committee marching to their subterranean meeting room to decide where to apply English vetoes, no mention of the great and good who have been put on this Grand Committee, or even how they got there, and no engagement of the public as to where they want their veto applied, so how can this be anything other than a slight of hand by Cameron Conservatives to pretend they care about England , but do the infinitesimally minimum to avoid criticism of doing nothing.

    But I have to ask, if people like me haven’t a clue how this subterranean committee, that applies English vetoes at some point in the labyrinthine parliamentary procedure, actually works or represents my veto, and I care about politics, how do people feel represented when they don’t even know this body exists.

    I don’t know what this is, but it certainly isn’t representative democracy.

    Replt The Grand Committee meets in the Commons Chamber!

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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