Tory backbenchers have just finished a long meeting about English Votes for English Laws. The 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers have just spent the last hour and a bit debating the matter with William Hague in attendance.
The question at issue was whether the Tories should bar all MPs other than English ones from voting on English-only issues. Or, whether they should limit their plans to only allowing English MPs to vote on English laws at committee stage and giving them a veto before third reading. The leadership is thought to favour the latter option and Malcolm Rifkind and Ken Clarke both spoke up for it.
But there was considerable support for option one. Brian Binley argued that this was what Cameron had committed to the morning after the Scottish referendum. While Bill Cash warned that option three would make it far too easy for Alex Salmond to cause mischief. These Tories want a vote on option one before the election to pin down Labour and the Liberal Democrats.
This argument is going to run and run because there is no simple answer to the problems created by the lopsided devolution settlement that the Blair government introduction. The first option does run the danger, as Ken Clarke pointed out, of allowing the Nationalists to claim that Scots MPs are being barred from voting on key issues. But the later one does not fully address the imbalances created by devolution. As the proverbial Irishman would say, ‘I wouldn’t start from here.’