Answering the West Lothian Question: a Critical Assessment of 'English Votes for English Laws' in the UK Parliament

03 May 2018

Abstract: In 2015, the UK House of Commons adopted new procedures known as ‘English Votes for English Laws’ (EVEL). This article evaluates whether EVEL has succeeded in answering the West Lothian Question, a constitutional anomaly arising from the asymmetrical character of governance in the UK. After outlining the historical background against which EVEL emerged as a supposed solution to this iconic question, the paper explains how the 2015 reform works, and proceeds to assess its operation during the 2015-17 parliament. It concludes that these new procedures appear to have overcome the main practical and constitutional obstacles associated with this type of reform, but they have, so far, failed to provide meaningful English representation at Westminster – particularly in relation to supplying England, and its MPs, with an enhanced ‘voice’.