Overview of legislative procedure and devolved legislative competence

27.1This chapter describes changes in the legislative procedure at Westminster (and overwhelmingly in the House of Commons) arising from devolution, principally the changes made in 2015 to House of Commons legislative procedures for certain legislation with limited territorial application and within the legislative competence of a devolved legislature in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. The consequences for the power and jurisdiction of Parliament of the devolution of power to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland more generally are discussed at paras 11.911.13.

Paragraphs 27.2–27.5 describe territorial adaptations of legislative procedure which were established prior to legislative devolution and remain part of the practice of the House of Commons, although in many cases much less used than in the past. Paragraph 27.6 describes the practices of both the House of Commons and the House of Lords relating to Legislative Consent Motions of the devolved legislatures.

The remainder of the chapter is concerned with the changes made to House of Commons standing orders on 22 October 2015 designed to introduce a system to enable consent to be given separately to certain legislative proposals specifically affecting England by Members of the House of Commons representing English constituencies and to certain legislative proposals specifically affecting England and Wales by Members of the House of Commons representing English and Welsh constituencies. These changes, and the procedures and practices to which they gave rise, are generally referred to as a system of ‘English Votes for English Laws' (or ‘EVEL’).

In relation to primary legislation in the House of Commons, the account in this chapter is intended to be largely self-contained, so that references to the operation of the new standing orders in Chapters 28 and 30 are relatively brief and refer back to relevant sections of this chapter. In relation to secondary legislation, the account in this chapter focuses on elements of the procedure which are common to both primary and secondary legislation, and complements the account given in paras 31.2331.25.