English MPs need to decide on issues affecting English schools and health services

Crawley MP Henry Smith's latest column
Crawley MP Henry Smith's latest column

During the last five years as Member of Parliament for Crawley, I have voted for an in/out UK/EU referendum every time the legislation has been put forward to Parliament.

I had just turned six years old when the last referendum on Europe was held. We were told we would be joining a free trading area, whereas we can all see what the present-day European Union has turned into.

Ed Miliband has said he opposes a referendum – in spite of polling that showed two thirds of business leaders support one.

Matthew Elliott, leader of the cross-party Business for Britain campaign, which supports the UK renegotiation, says that “Labour is unnecessarily adding to business uncertainty and failing to give a future government the best possible chance of securing meaningful reform”.

In stark contrast, I agree with the many Crawley residents who feel angered by this issue, who share my frustration that repeated Conservative attempts to ensure we have a referendum in this Parliament were blocked by the combined forces of Labour and the Liberal Democrats.

I sympathise with those who want an early referendum. But I do feel the Prime Minister should be given time to see if a meaningful renegotiation can take place. The Director of the Better Off Out campaign – which wants the UK to leave the EU – said last week that no meaningful renegotiation could be completed in time for an EU referendum in 2016.

The next Conservative Government will ensure we get our referendum. If I am given the honour of being re-elected as Member of Parliament for Crawley, I will continue to support this call, and I will vote in the House of Commons accordingly.

In recent weeks I have led the Crawley Fair Votes for All petition, which is in support of English Votes for the English Nation (EVEN). I was honoured to be made a Patron of this campaign.

There are significant areas of policy which are devolved to the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh, but as it stands now, Scottish MPs in Westminster can vote on matters affecting England in the House of Commons, even though English MPs do not vote on Scotland issues.

Issues affecting English schools and health services – which will affect us here in Crawley – need to be decided on by English MPs. I am well aware of the depth of feeling on this issue from people across our town.

I am also supporting the Prime Minister’s aim of repealing New Labour’s so-called Human Rights Act, and replacing it with a British Bill of Rights and Responsibilities.

However, none of these changes can be made without a majority Conservative government. Otherwise, we risk having Ed Miliband in Downing Street – we cannot afford the possibility of him sharing power with the Scottish National Party and Sinn Fein.

Decisions such as this need to be taken by us, the people.