Harriett Baldwin opposes proposals to abolish the English Votes for English Laws Standing Orders without any proposal for any kind of replacement to deal with the perceived democratic disparity between England and the devolved nations of the United Kingdom.
It is good to be one of only two representatives of middle England objecting to the proposals to abolish these Standing Orders. My 2011 private Member’s Bill, the Legislation (Territorial Extent) Bill, put pressure on the coalition Government to set up the commission that put forward the EVEL proposals, and I well remember the Lord President of the Council—in those days he was merely the Member for North East Somerset—making his speech. He is noted not only for being a great historian but now for being a seer and someone who can foretell the future, because he said that one day, a Government would be able to come in and simply abolish these Standing Orders. I very much regret that it is he who is doing it.
I think that we can all see the mood of the House this evening—we can all see that the motion is going to carry—but we must recognise that this was a pledge in the Conservative party manifesto in 2010 and 2015. It was a pledge that was there for a reason: because, at the time, our constituents were raising this on the doorstep as something they were very concerned about. A solution was put in place through the Standing Orders. As the Lord President said, it has not necessarily been needed in the interim, but it is not impossible to envisage a scenario in which its absence really would cause constitutional problems in this country. I regret very much that these Standing Orders are being abolished without a proposal for any kind of replacement to deal with that.