Alistair Carmichael 1 Chris Grayling 0

So, after Alistair Carmichael’s use of a parliamentary device to deliver  a whomping defeat on the Government over their attempt to railroad through English Votes for English Laws, Chris Grayling has announced that he’s not going to put the matter to a vote on Tuesday after all. During the 3 hour debate instigated by Alistair, the Government’s case became even more incoherent. The Herald has the story:

Ministers were facing potential defeat in the Commons vote on ‘English votes for English laws’ – due to be held next week.

Labour, the SNP, the Lib Dems and the DUP were all expected to vote against the proposals, which also caused disquiet on the Tory backbenches.

Chris Grayling, the leader of the House, told MPs the proposals would be redrafted and reintroduced later this year.

This is not over by any manner of means, but Alistair’s victory is important because it means that a major constitutional reform has not been brought in on the say-so of just one parliamentary chamber. This should be properly scrutinised. A draft bill examined by both Houses of Parliament would seem sensible to me – a bit like we had for the Snoopers’ Charter, or, indeed, just bring a proper bill through Parliament in the usual way.

Alistair commented on Grayling’s announcement:

The government’s EVEL plans have descended into farce. The fact that ministers have been forced to go back to the drawing board shows just how badly they have misjudged this issue.

The emergency debate I secured earlier this week showed that MPs on all sides of the House of Commons had serious concerns over the speed with which the government was forcing through their shoddy plans.

This is a humiliating climbdown from the Leader of the House but it does not go far enough. There is no way that changes of this magnitude should be introduced through the standing orders of the House of Commons. If the government is convinced that their reforms are fair, they should have the courage of their convictions and bring forward primary legislation to ensure that reforms get the full scrutiny required.

This was a clever move by Carmichael, one that the SNP didn’t think to do. It goes to show that, just like in Holyrood, a small number of tenacious Liberal Democrats can stop governments doing stupid things.

It goes to show that 1 MP can be more effective than 56.


* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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  • A triumph of parliamentary experience over noise and tantrums. And to think that if the SNP had had their way, there would have been no challenge to the order, no delay, and it would have been implemented now.

  • All it takes for EVEL to triumph is for good ones like Alistair Carmichael to do nothing…

  • ‘All it takes for EVEL to triumph is for good ones like Alistair Carmichael to do nothing…’

    Are you serious, the guy that lied over the Sturgeoan leak ?

  • Sammy O'Neill 10th Jul '15 - 1:54am

    There’s a real danger here, which is that the tories blame the failure to achieve English votes for English laws on the Lib Dems. The public overwhelmingly want the current problems resolved, and to be honest I don’t see what good Carmichael is going to achieve here. He’s already disgraced himself in my eyes, now he’s just making any of us south of Dumfries have an even tougher time with the public.

  • Alisdair Calder McGregor 10th Jul '15 - 8:15am

    I suspect the truth is that the SNP would quite like EVEL, as it’ll give them yet more opportunity for complaining and making claims of victimhood.

  • Well done to him, though TBF, Alistair wasn’t the only one campaigning on this… (38 degrees emails must have been clogging Tory inboxes!)

  • Richard Underhill 10th Jul '15 - 7:53pm

    A party with one MP can still have a backbench rebellion.

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