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Laws for England 'need votes of English MPs'

Published 25/03/2013

Laws that affect only England should normally require the support of a majority of English MPs, a Government-ordered inquiry recommends.

The McKay commission said Commons decisions with a "separate and distinct effect" for England should "normally be taken only with the consent of a majority of MPs sitting for constituencies in England".

The review was launched last year into the West Lothian Question – the ability of politicians from Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland to vote in the Commons on issues that do not affect their constituents. In 2004, Scottish and Welsh MPs enabled the then-Labour government to bring in university top-up fees in England.

Sir William McKay, who chaired the commission, said: "The status quo clearly cannot be sustained. Our proposals retain the right of a UK-wide majority to make the final decisions where they believe UK interests or those of a part of the UK other than England should prevail. We expect that governments will prefer compromise to conflict."

He stopped short of calling for a change in the law, however, arguing it would be "impractical". Instead, there should be a "double count", where the proportion of English MPs supporting a Bill would be published alongside the overall result.

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