LONDON – British lawmakers voted Thursday to change the way they pass laws that affect some areas of the country but not others, a contentious subject that has divided Scottish and English lawmakers.
After a heated and often ill-tempered debate, legislators voted 312 to 270 in favor of a plan known as "English votes for English laws."
It is designed to address an anomaly: Scotland has its own parliament with power over areas including education and health, but Scottish lawmakers can still vote on those same areas in the London-based British Parliament — influencing laws in England.
The measure will get a one-year trial period. On bills that the Speaker of Parliament decides affect only England — or England and Wales — there will be a separate phase of voting with Scottish lawmakers excluded.
House of Commons leader Chris Grayling said the change would bring fairness to the political system.
But Scottish Nationalist Party legislators are outraged, saying it makes them second-class parliamentarians.
"Scotland is watching this and the mood is darkening," said SNP lawmaker Pete Wishart, whose party wants Scotland to leave the United Kingdom.
"Support for independence is actually increasing."
And opposition Labour Party lawmaker Chris Bryant said the proposals were so complicated they resembled a "bowl of soggy, overcooked spaghetti."