Housing Bill set to be first test for English votes plan

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Controversial plans to introduce the right-to-buy for housing association tenants will be the first test of "English votes for English laws".

The second reading of the Housing Bill, applying only to England and Wales, is due to take place on 2 November.

Right-to-buy is being outlawed in Scotland and is not an issue the SNP would normally have voted on.

English MPs were given a veto over Commons legislation that affects England only on Thursday.

The SNP is furious about the move, which it says will make its MPs "second class" citizens.

Airport expansion

They have promised to act responsibly when deciding when to challenge the application of the new rules - but sources say they will create "mischief" when the opportunity arises.

The Housing Bill could provide their first opportunity - particularly if it is found to contain financial implications for Scotland.

The party is also demanding to know whether Scottish MPs will be prevented from voting on the future expansion of airport capacity in the South East of England amid suggestions from some Conservatives that it could be an English-only matter.

"Expansion of airport capacity impacts on connectivity for the whole of the UK and, therefore, any vote must be an issue on which all MPs have a say," said the party's transport spokesman Drew Hendry.

"The expansion of airport capacity has constantly been promoted by the UK government as a national infrastructure project - it will have massive impact on travel, exports, growth and jobs across the four nations of these islands - not just London and the South East of England."

The new process of legislative scrutiny, with a stage for England will not apply to bills which have already had their second reading in the House of Commons.

As well as right-to-buy, the Housing Bill also introduces the requirement for local authorities in England to dispose of vacant high value council properties to fund right to buy extension and to build more affordable homes.

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image captionIt will be for Speaker John Bercow to decide whether legislation applies just in England

How will Evel work?

There will now be a new stage added to the usual law-making process at Westminster allowing MPs for English constituencies to vote on issues deemed to only affect England.

These MPs would be able to veto the legislation before all MPs from across the United Kingdom voted in the bill's final readings.

Speaker John Bercow will decide whether a Bill only affects England, and all MPs in the Commons will still have to pass legislation at other stages of the process.

The Speaker will be able to explain his reason for certifying an issue as English or English and Welsh only and call on two senior MPs to help make the ruling.

The new process in a flow chart

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