This week there was a final round of consultations of Conservative MPs by William Hague in order to make decisions on the implementation of the recent White Paper on English votes for English issues.
It is clear that the Conservative leadership now agree that we do not want a narrow English votes for English laws but the wider English votes for English issues. The question, for example, of how the English local government grant monies voted by the Union Parliament are divided up between the various English Councils should be a matter for English MPs alone, as the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly make the comparable decisions in their parts of the UK. England’s rate of Income Tax should not be voted on by Scottish MPs as Scotland will choose her own Income Tax rate.
The leadership also seems to agree that the obvious way to bring about English votes for English issues quickly and simply is to amend the Standing Orders of the House. Most Conservatives wish the House to have an early opportunity to debate and vote on this matter.
The leadership also seems to agree that the second of their three options, the weakest version of English votes for English issues, is not the one to adopt.
The remaining question lies between Option One, straightforward English votes for all English issues, and Option 3 which introduced an English veto on Bills prior to third reading, along with other measures. I favour the simple and general English votes for English issues, and hope they will conclude in favour of that one. It is the one that seems closest to the Prime Minister’s promises in the Downing Street speech, and to past Manifesto wording.