Sir Malcolm Rifkind MP has just issued a statement explaining why Ken Clarke’s answer to the West Lothian Question is inadequate.

This is the key section of his argument:

"By leaving the Second Reading to be voted on by all MPs this will mean that legislation that only applies to England could receive a Second Reading and be approved in principle even if it was unacceptable to a majority of MPs representing English constituencies. Thus the legislation on tuition fees, foundation hospitals or fox hunting would still have been approved.  Such legislation, under the Clarke proposals, would now be subject to amendment to meet English wishes which is very much to be welcomed. However, these amendments could not reverse the basic objective of such a Bill which had been approved by the House of Commons as a whole, as any attempt to do so would be designated a “wrecking amendment” and ruled out of order."

He then proposes this solution:

"There could be a requirement that at Second Reading and at Report stage, for a vote to be carried on amendments to an England-only Bill, the vote, to be declared carried, would need a majority both of the House as a whole and of MPs representing  English constituencies."

Here is a PDF
of Sir Malcolm’s full response.

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