We are fast approaching a statement from Mr Hague on how the government, and the Conservatives, will carry forward the work on English votes.
I have long argued we should not be plotting evil – English votes for English laws – but English votes for English issues. Why not adopt the cross party word of needs, so the mnemonic can be EVEN – English votes for English needs.
I expect Mr Hague to accept that more is involved than a few votes on a few bills that are England only. Once the Union Parliament has decided the total grants to local government in the four parts of the UK, for example, surely all the detail on how the English money is divided up are matters for England and English MPs, just as Scotland’s detailed settlement is for the Scottish Parliament? Once the UK Parliament has settled England’s NHS budget, then surely English health policy under that budget is a matter for England, just as Scotland’s is a matter for the Scottish Parliament.
Similarly we should want English MPs to decide England’s Income Tax rate as Scottish MSPs will be deciding Scotland’s. Welsh and Northern Irish MPs would also take part at Westminster all the time their Income tax is settled with England’s.
I also expect Mr Hague to agree there needs to be an early debate in this Parliament, when the parties can set out their differing approaches.
I want him to sign up to the first proposal in his White Paper, English votes on any English matter. That is the simpler way, and the fair way. The other remaining proposal he is considering does not allow English MPs to settle English matters, as it retains a vote for Scottish MPs on any proposal England wants. That is not fair to England and does not keep the promise to deliver English votes for English needs.
There is no complexity on deciding which is an English (or English, Welsh and Northern Irish issue) as it is one settled in Scotland by the Scottish Parliament. They seem to have no difficulty deciding which they are for the Scottish Parliament, so it should be equally easy to decide a non Scottish issue.