Belfast Telegraph

Bill calls for England Parliament

England should have its own separate parliament as preventing MPs voting or speaking on certain issues in the British Parliament under an "English votes for English laws" system would be divisive and mistaken, the Commons has heard.

Tory Andrew Rosindell (Romford) called for a federal system similar to Australia or Canada that would give each of the home nations its own parliament with a UK Parliament covering defence, foreign affairs, national security, immigration and currency management.

The home nations would then each have stronger individual parliaments with the freedom to uphold their own identities and laws made by their own MPs, he said.

In the federal system British overseas territories and dependencies, along with armed forces stationed overseas should also be represented in some way, according to Mr Rosindell.

He spoke as politicians continue to pick over the fall out of the Scottish independence referendum with a cross-party pledge to further devolution north of the border sitting alongside the Prime Minister's commitment to introduce some form of "English votes for English laws".

Introducing his Parliamentary and Constitutional Reform Bill under the 10 minute role motion, Mr Rosindell told MPs the Commons is part of the British Parliament and must remain that way.

He said: "To change that principle by stopping MPs from one part of the kingdom from speaking on voting on certain issues would I fear be a dangerous road to travel.

"I believe it would change the nature of this House forever.

"With MPs no longer sitting here on an equal basis I fear that the House of Commons might eventually be seen by those representing parts of the kingdom that are excluded from certain business as no longer being a Parliament that truly represents the interests of the whole British nation and its peoples.

"My Bill seeks to ensure that for as long as England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales remain part of the United Kingdom their elected representatives will always be considered equal in this chamber.

"The House of Commons is not an English parliament and must never become one."

Mr Rosindell said his Bill set out a federal model but would not create a new class of English MPs, with current representatives expected to take up dual roles in the UK and English parliaments.

The Tory MP said: "My Bill is about strengthening the entire scope of our nation and its people's in every corner of Her Majesty's Britannic Realm.

"So if we are going to do it let us do it properly and in the overall interests of the entire British family.

"As an English MP representing an English constituency I care deeply about England and along with many members on all sides of this House believe that the time has come for England to find its voice.

"But to do so without full consideration for what the consequences might be for the rest of the kingdom would be divisive and mistaken.

"My Bill allows from a genuine debate about how we as Britons can work to find a lasting constitutional settlement for our entire nation and for all its component parts."

Mr Rosindell's Bill has support from Tory, Labour, Liberal Democrat, Ukip, SNP, Plaid Cymru and DUP MPs.

It was earmarked for second reading on January 23 next year, but is unlikely to become law due to a lack of parliamentary time.

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