Tory peer: ‘English votes’ placing pressure on Union

Westminster
Westminster

An influential Conservative peer has criticised the party’s reaction to the growing campaign to exclude Ulster and Scottish MPs from Commons votes about English issues.

Lord Lexden, a staunch unionist who is steeped in the history of the party, said that the call for ‘English votes for English laws’ was “placing huge pressure on an already strained Union”.

Picture of Conservative peer Lord Lexden

Picture of Conservative peer Lord Lexden

Writing in today’s News Letter, the peer says that excluding MPs from Ulster or Scotland from some votes is “incompatible with unionism”.

Last month the leader of the Commons, William Hague, announced a series of options for addressing the ‘West Lothian Question’ — what to do about Celtic MPs voting for laws which only affect English voters.

One of his proposals would bar Ulster MPs from any role in English and Welsh bills.

Lord Lexden, who has a decades-long interest in Northern Ireland, said that the Tory section of the document was “feeble” and “misleading”.

The peer, who as Alistair Cooke spent years in the Conservative Research Department and is the official historian of the Conservative Party, said that the Government was attempting to put off a decision about the issue.

But that, he said, will “make matters worse”, adding that it is “a tragic mistake” to allow the issue to “go on stoking up ill-feeling between England and the rest of our country”.

Lord Lexden: English votes for English laws is incompatible with unionism