Private Member's Bill
Report and Third reading scheduled for September 9th 2011.
Harriett Baldwin is putting constitutional reform on the agenda in a private member’s bill to the House of Commons. The bill will attempt to address the controversial West Lothian Question, which highlights anomalies in national voting powers for MPs following devolution.
The bill will be titled the Legislation (Territorial Extent) Bill and will require all draft legislation to clearly identify its effect separately for England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Harriett’s name was drawn seventh in the ballot to introduce a Bill to the House of Commons – meaning that her legislation will be heard in this new session of Parliament.
Harriett commented: “I have heard from many constituents about ideas, and this one was often raised. I also welcomed a very wide range of other suggestions from the constituency, many of which will be taken up by the Government and many by other MPs higher up the ballot. Private Members Bills must not raise taxes or spending.
“Labour has refused to address the so-called “West Lothian Question”. I was elected on a Conservative manifesto pledge, which stated that we would address the unfair situation of Scottish MPs voting on matters which are devolved.
“The Coalition Programme for Government has undertaken to review the issue. I acknowledge it is not a simple matter to solve with a Bill, but this Bill will allow the House to debate this important issue ahead of the Government’s schedule.
“I know that many of my colleagues in the Conservative party are keen to have a proper discussion on this issue in the House of Commons and I am pleased that so many of my colleagues have offered their support.”
Both current Foreign Secretary William Hague and former Scottish Secretary Malcolm Rifkind have attempted to raise this issue in the House in the last decade. Former Home Secretary David Davis is one of the signatories of Harriett’s Bill.
Harriett added: “This is an exciting opportunity to debate this constitutional issue which has been vexing Westminster MPs since devolution.
“I have already had support from many members of the party and I am sure that the wider country will watch this debate with interest.”
The ‘dummy’ Bill was presented to the Speaker on 30th June. The Bill will be tabled for second reading on February 11, next year, allowing Harriett plenty of time to lobby her colleagues and get enough support to allow the Bill to reach the Committee stage.
Harriett Keeps Up Pressure on Private Members Bill
Harriett Baldwin this week continued to press for a commission to investigate the controversial West Lothian Question.
The MP repeated her question to Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg to discover the timeline to look at the important constitutional issue.
Harriett asked for the update after MPs asked about whether the Government is planning to support her Private Member’s Bill which is currently being debated in committee in Parliament.
The Deputy Prime Minister said: “It is a very difficult issue which has bedeviled Governments for a very long period of time. We don’t support the Bill but we do support the establishment of a commission looking into the West Lothian Question, which we will establish in due course.
Pressed by Harriett to identify the timetable for the Commission, he added: “I think there is a need that we don’t overlap the very important work of Commission into the West Lothian Question and the equally important work that we are doing to reform the ‘other place’.
“Once we have established the progress on that draft Bill which we will be publishing before the end of next month, I think we will be in a clearer position to proceed on the West Lothian Question.”
Harriett commented: “This is clearly a controversial issue which I have brought to the attention of the Government through my Private Member’s Bill.
“Many of my colleagues have expressed an interest in this issue and I would hope that we don’t have to wait a long time for the Deputy Prime Minister to make significant progress on the Commission.
‘In the meantime, I will press ahead with my bill and we will see what the future holds.”