Research shows that English voters prefer the option of English Votes for English Laws (EVEL), widely believed to be the frontrunner in the government’s consideration of the West Lothian Question. Forty percent1 of English voters opted for giving English MPs an exclusive say at Westminster over legislation that applies solely to their constituents – over twice the level of support for the next nearest options, an English Parliament (16%) or the status quo (18%).
The data, from the 2014 Future of England Survey (FoES - attached), confirms the preference for EVEL established in the previous three years and even suggests that support may be growing over time. The researchers behind the report have stressed that in this and other studies, regardless of how the question is asked, English Votes for English Laws remains the preferred option for the electorate in the UK’s most populous nation. They also highlight that support for regional devolution is consistently and firmly last - 7% in the FoES study.
Professor Ailsa Henderson, co-author of the report, explained:
“It is clear that there is a marked preference for the option of English Votes for English Laws, even though it is still unclear as to precisely what model the government is likely to suggest. We have identified the emergence of a distinctively English, as opposed to British, political identity and a growing demand for institutions that reflect that reality.
“Support for those institutions trails off after EVEL but voters clearly favour national over regional solutions with EVEL - followed by an English Parliament, strengthening existing local authorities and the status quo - all beating elected regional assemblies.”
Professor Richard Wyn Jones, another co-author, added:
“It’s clear that there is very little appetite in England for regional answers to a national question. The voters of England see the results of national devolution to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and expect a comparable solution for England.”
Professor Charlie Jeffery, lead author of the report, concurred:
“It has been clear for some time now that English voters are looking for English solutions – that means solutions that address the needs of England as a whole rather than options that try to resolve the UK’s constitutional asymmetry by giving power to the regions, Europe, the other nations of the UK or anywhere else.”
Guy Lodge of the IPPR, another co-author agreed, saying:
“It’s clear that the public favours an England-wide solution, with EVEL the clear favourite. This doesn’t answer the question of how such a solution might work – EVEL means different things to different people and ministers need to make clear what it means to them.”
Notes to Editors
For further information or to arrange interviews with Professors Henderson or Jeffery, contact Nick Bibby on 0131 651 4735 / 07866 053359 or email email@example.com
To arrange interviews with Professor Richard Wyn Jones or Professor Roger Scully (also a co-author), contact Lleu Williams on 07455015819 or email WilliamsL59@cardiff.ac.uk.
Guy Lodge is currently out of the country.
- The Future of England Survey (FoES) was funded under the Future of the UK and Scotland programme of the Economic and Social Research Council. Fieldwork was conducted by YouGov between 11-22 April 2014. The online survey included a sample of 3705 adults (age 18+) in England. For the first time we added samples of 1014 Scottish and 1027 Welsh respondents to allow us to identity whether views in England were similar to those held by Scottish and Welsh residents.
- Professors Jeffery and Henderson are members of the Centre on Constitutional Change at the University of Edinburgh, Professors Wyn Jones and Scully of the Wales Governance Centre at Cardiff University, and Guy Lodge is Associate Director at the Institute for Public Policy Research in London. All are grateful to Robert Lineira for his support in preparing this report.
- Professor Jeffery was also a member of the McKay Commission , established by the Coalition to investigate this issue. The McKay report can be found at http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20130403030652/http:/tmc.independent.gov.uk/