South East Wales

Paul Murphy backs English devolution to avoid 'muddle'

Paul Murphy
Image caption Torfaen Labour MP Paul Murphy said 'tinkering' with MPs' voting system can lead to 'a terrible muddle'

Former Welsh Secretary Paul Murphy said devolution in England is the "only answer" to the issue of Welsh and Scottish MPs voting on English matters.

The Torfaen MP has tabled a debate and fears Welsh MPs have become "emasculated".

Welsh Secretary Cheryl Gillan said the UK Government plans a commission on the issue.

Mr Murphy said: "You can't really tinker with all this because we're either all British MPs or we're not."

Ms Gillan's comment was prompted by Monmouth's Conservative MP David Davies raising the question of Welsh MPs voting on England-only issues, in the wake of Wales voting Yes in a referendum to speed-up the law-making process in Cardiff Bay.

Labour MP Mr Murphy has tabled his adjournment debate on the so-called West Lothian question for Tuesday.

He said it was "time for the alarm bells to sound" because possible restrictions on how Welsh MPs vote would come with the number of Welsh MPs being cut by a quarter.

The UK government wants to cut the number of seats in the House of Commons from 650 to 600 and to equalise the number of voters in each constituency.

These plans would see the number of Welsh MPs reduced from 40 to 30.

Mr Murphy said: "It does mean that those of us who are Welsh MPs are emasculated in many ways in terms of dealing with issues and that Welsh matters won't be able to be raised properly in the House of Commons and our voice in Westminster is going to be weakened.

"So Tuesday's debate is to really see what the government is up to on all this, what does a commission mean? Who's going to sit on it, is it a binding commission?

"Is it going to be a consensual one, because there's been nothing consensual at all about the reduction of Welsh Members of Parliament and both the Liberals and Conservatives have been together on this and in my view, have let Wales down very badly.

Image caption The number of Welsh MPs will be cut from 40 to 30 under the government's plans

Mr Murphy told BBC Radio Wales's Sunday Supplement that altering the way MPs voted could lead to "a terrible muddle".

He said: "It's a British parliament at the end of the day and we're all the same.

"And if we want to ensure that there is a United Kingdom, then you can't really have different voting methods for Scottish, Northern Irish, Welsh and English MPs.

"The only real answer it seems to me is to have some sort of English devolution - the English regions.

"They may not be ready for it yet but that's the real answer to this."

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