Page last updated at 14:15 GMT, Friday, 11 February 2011

Legislation (Territorial Extent) Bill

A Tory MP has launched a bid to require government legislation to clearly specify which parts of the UK are affected by the proposals.

Harriett Baldwin said her private member's bill would potentially allow MPs in Westminster to change the way they deal with laws affecting only England, Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland.

But shadow constitutional and political reform minister Chris Bryant warned the legislation could cause wider complications for Parliament.

Introducing the Legislation (Territorial Extent) Bill in the Commons on 11 February 2011, Mrs Baldwin said it would address the "knotty constitutional issue" of the West Lothian Question - whether MPs should vote on issues which do not directly affect their own constituents as a result of devolution.

The West Worcestershire MP rejected the idea of "English votes for English laws", where only MPs from English constituencies would be allowed to vote on legislation affecting the country.

The option that made "most sense" was to allow only English MPs to amend bills which solely affected England, but MPs from all parts of the UK would be able to vote at second and third reading.

Mr Bryant, MP for Rhondda, argued that MPs representing Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland could offer "a different point of view" when debating laws.

"If you decide that members can only vote on those matters that directly affect their constituents, you end up with the question of who runs the country," he said.

And he warned there was a danger of creating two classes of MPs - one set being able to make laws that affect only England, and another group passing or vetoing legislation which impacts on the UK as a whole.

Speaking for the government, Mark Harper urged Mrs Baldwin to withdraw her bill, claiming it was unnecessary and could prejudge the government's commission which is set to examine the West Lothian question.

A division was called and the bill narrowly passed second reading by 19 votes to 17.

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