The House of Commons used the new rules on ‘English Votes for English Laws’ for the first time this week, on the Government’s Housing and Planning Bill. I therefore thought it would be a good time to revisit last year’s series of posts on EVEL.
My first post covered the why and how of EVEL, the second when EVEL would apply and the third what EVEL does and doesn’t do. (For the time-challenged, a shorter version of that breakdown later appeared in the Journal of the Law Society of Scotland.)
The Housing Bill shows in practice the procedure set out in my third post. The Speaker certified some parts of the Bill as relating exclusively to England and Wales, and others exclusively to England. The Speaker’s certificates at various stages of the Bill are available on the Bill documents page on Parliament’s website – in the “English votes for English laws” section that now seems to appear on the webpage for any Bill certified by the Speaker.
Although the Speaker’s reasoning is not given (apparently in line with advice from the Commons Procedure Committee), the page does contain a memorandum from the Department for Communities and Local Government setting out the reasons why they thought certain clauses were subject to EVEL. As a result, after conclusion of the Bill’s Report stage consideration, the responsible Minister moved consent motions to be considered in the Legislative Grand Committee (England and Wales) and the Legislative Grand Committee (England), to consider the respective certified provisions. Hansard’s record of the debate during those committee proceedings – which is almost entirely a continuation of the arguments about EVEL, and ultimately didn’t even produce a division – is available here.
EVEL will rise again on the 26th, when a legislative grand committee is scheduled for the Charities (Protection and Social Investment) Bill – as far as I can tell the first Bill to be certified as relating exclusively to England and Wales. No doubt the aforementioned arguments will put in an appearance too.
On January 15, 2016