English Votes for English Laws restores 'fairness and balance to UK'

 

So wrote GK Chesterton, that great English writer and poet.

 

Granted, he probably wasn't thinking about the British constitution when he wrote those words.

 

But they feel appropriate when you think about the situation that existed until just a few days ago. This time last week a Scottish MP in Westminster could vote on matters which only affected England, even though English MPs have never been able vote in the Scottish Parliament on equivalent issues.

 

It meant you had the daft, lop-sided, situation where Scottish MSPs could vote for, say, a cut in Air Passenger Duty in Scotland, only for Scottish MPs in Westminster to be able to impose an increase in the equivalent measure in England.

 

I have long thought that was wrong.

 

Before the General Election I was the Cheltenham patron of the Fair Votes for All campaign, which was set up to push for change. Now the campaign has born fruit. Following a recent vote on English Votes for English Laws, commonly known as EVEL, fairness and balance has been restored to our United Kingdom. The position today is that where the Speaker decides that draft legislation affects only England, English MPs (and Welsh MPs where appropriate) will have a veto to ensure it only passes with their consent.

 

I believe that is proportionate and fair and strengthens our Union.

 

The measures were bitterly challenged by Labour and the SNP. But as so often in Parliament there was room for humour. During the recitation of the Lord's Prayer at the start of the parliamentary proceedings, one Labour wit was heard to murmur 'Too right!' at the reference to Deliver us from EVEL…'

 

In other news, on Saturday I flew the flag for Cheltenham, meeting the Prime Minister at an event in his Witney constituency which I had been invited to speak at. We discussed issues including the recent State visit of the Chinese premier. I also held a one-to-one meeting with the Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, to raise the concerns of Cheltenham's junior doctors. And I just about caught the tail-end of the Balcarras prize-giving.

 

In a busy week a personal highlight was witnessing the resurfacing of the Bath Road crossing, by Suffolk Road. After a long campaign, I am delighted the horror junction is now pothole free! Let's keep up the momentum for better roads in town.

England expects. But Cheltenham does too.