POLITICS

SNP Can Still Vote On Foxhunting After EVEL Comes Into Force

14/07/2015 13:47 BST | Updated 14/07/2015 17:59 BST
ADRIAN DENNIS via Getty Images
A member of public flies a giant Scottish Saltire flag outside the Houses of Parliament shortly before Scotland First Minister Nicola Sturgeon posed with newly-elected Scottish National Party (SNP) MPs during a photocall in London on May 11, 2015. The SNP won a landslide in Scotland in the May 7 general election, destroying the Labour party north of the border in a historic leap forward which could increase pressure for a fresh referendum on independence. The nationalists won 56 of 59 parliamentary seats in Scotland up from just six at the last vote in 2010. AFP PHOTO / ADRIAN DENNIS (Photo credit should read ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images)

If pro-hunt campaigners think English Votes for English Laws (EVEL) legislation will help them, they are wrong.

Just an hour after the Government announced it would be postponing the vote on amending the foxhunting ban, Leader of the Commons Chris Grayling published more details on EVEL.

The common thought is the changes would stop Scottish MPs voting on English only, or English and Welsh only, matters.

However, that is not what is being proposed.

What is actually being considered is that English MPs would have a veto on laws which only affect England.

The most common example used is when Labour introduced tuition fees in England, and was able to rely on its sizeable number of Scottish MPs to get the law through the Commons.

If a majority of English MPs had voted against the plans, then it wouldn’t have made it into law.

Therefore, the legislation has a purpose when the Government is relying on the support of MPs from Scotland.

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The legislative process with EVEL

But the current Government is not in that position. The Tories have just one Scottish MP - David Mundell who represents Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale. The Tory majority is based on its success in England.

What the EVEL changes actually mean is the government would have to secure two majorities on English-only matters.

First, from English MPs, and secondly, from the House of Commons as a whole.

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An extract from today's announcement by Chris Grayling

So in the fox hunting example, even it was decreed as an ‘English only’ matter, the SNP could still defeat any changes at the ‘second majority’ stage.

EVEL is only useful if the Government of the day is being propped up by a large number of Scottish MPs. If it is not, then it is effectively meaningless.

When these proposals were first put forward by William Hague in the wake of the Scottish referendum, many Tories did not think the plans went far enough, including influential backbencher Bernard Jenkin.

The real reason why David Cameron will not get his way on changes to the foxhunting law is that a number of his own MPs, including Sports Minister Tracey Crouch, are set to vote against them.

These anti-hunt Tories are the ones keeping the return of foxhunting at bay – not the SNP.