The first part of this article can be read here.

What of the House of Lords? The Implications of Devolution for England paper leaves this matter untouched.  That is ridiculous. The Lords may have lost much of their power ,  but they can delay matters by rejecting Bills or amending them heavily so that they have to go back to the Commons to be either represented in their original form or with some but not all of the Lords amendments accepted.  The Commons could also change the original Bill.  (Under the 1949 Parliament Act the Lords can block Commons Legislation for two sessions spread over one year).

The composition of the Lords, which pays no attention to geographical representation, has no fixed number of members and increasingly consists of political appointees,   is patently unfitted to act as a revising chamber for English only laws.  Moreover, English votes for English laws under the Tory and LibDem proposals would leave England as an anomaly in that they would be the only one of the four home nations to have legislation specific to it alone subject to a revising chamber.  To give England parity with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland the Lords (however reformed unreformed) would have to be cease to consider English only laws.

Finally, there is the vexed question of who initiates legislation. This is also ignored by the Tory and LibDem proposals.  Bearing in mind the strong possibility that a UK government would  be formed every now and then from a party or parties which could not command a majority of English seats, who exactly would initiate English only legislation in such a situation?  It could scarcely be a UK government which could not command an English seat majority. Not only would this seem unjust to the English, but an English seat majority in the Commons would under most of the proposed schemes be able to block the legislation.   Permanent deadlock could be the result over a great deal of the legislative programme of   a UK government without a majority of English seats.

But if it was not the UK government initiating English only legislation, who would?  The party with a majority of English seats? A coalition of parties drawn from English seats?  Whoever it was making it would in effect be an English government.  But to get to such a de facto English government there would have to be radical changes to Commons procedures because it is the UK government which controls the business of the Commons.  But it is doubtful if any UK government would willingly relinquish such control. This practical and political difficulty would more than any other thing point to the need not for English votes on English laws but an English Parliament. (This could be created at little extra expense simply by letting the House of Commons sit as an English Parliament to deal with English business. The rest of the time the House would sit with non-English seat MPs as well as the UK Parliament).

Where does all this leave us? Even in its purist form with only English seat MPs voting on English laws this would not be a permanent solution.   Once established it would  quickly become clear that there would be perpetual dissent over what are English-only laws, squabbles over the continuing existence of the Barnett Formula and the practical difficulty of having a House of Commons where the majorities for UK business and English business might be different, for example, there could be  a  UK wide  majority for Labour  or a Labour led coalition which was reliant on  MPs from seats outside of England for their majority and a Tory majority in England.

Unsatisfactory as it would be English votes for English laws would be a staging post on the way to the only clean solution to the English Question, an English Parliament.   An immediate move to an English Parliament would be ideal but support for it at the moment is most unlikely. A decent wedge of Tory MPs would probably vote for it but the other Westminster Parties would be more or less universally against it. But the sheer impracticality of the proposal would rapidly become apparent and support for an English Parliament would increase amongst MPs. The English public would also be provoked into more and more dissatisfaction if English interests were ignored because English seat MPs could not control English legislation effectively.  In addition, the fact that there was a body such as an English Grand committee and  a constitutional principle of English seat MPs having as their first priority English matters  would cause a change in the cast of mind of MPs and incite the passions of the English public to demand a Parliament.

Whether we will get any the options put forward by the Tories and LibDems will depend on whether the Tories form a government after the 2015 General Election.  A  Labour government or a coalition formed by Labour/LibDem/SNP would probably do nothing while the likely outcome of another Tory/LibDem coalition would be a Constitutional Convention dragging interminably on and coming to no conclusion before the General Election after the 2015 one.

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