CAMERON COMMONS BAN ON SCOTS MPS; Tories Bow to English Anger over Voting; Cameronmove to Limit Scots MPs

Article excerpt


SCOTTISH MPs will be banned from voting on 'English-only' laws under a new Conservative Government.

Tory leader David Cameron will unveil his party's election manifesto this week with a promise to stop MPs from Scotland - and the other devolved countries - from meddling with legislation affecting only England.

The ability of non-English MPs to influence policy areas such as education and health has become an increasing source of resentment among voters south of the Border since devolution in 1999.

Six years ago, the Government was only able to force through its university tuition fees Bill with the backing of more than 40 Scottish Labour MPs - even though the proposals did not affect their own constituents. Mr Cameron is determined to avoid such a scenario occurring on his watch should the Tories win the General Election on May 6.

The commitment from the Tories confirms his plans to tackle the controversial West Lothian Question.

The introduction of new rules in the House of Commons for English-only laws will be based on the recommendations of Kenneth Clarke's Democracy Taskforce paper, which sought to find a way of rebalancing the British constitution in the wake of devolution. This would see the creation of a so-called English Grand Committee to deal with 'Englishonly legislation'.

Last night, Shadow Scottish Secretary David Mundell said: 'A Conservative Government. will introduce new rules to ensure that legislation referring specifically to England, or England and Wales, cannot be enacted without the consent of MPs representing constituencies of those countries .'

He added: 'The West Lothian Question is an unfairness that Labour has been determined to ignore. That attitude is irresponsible and quite probably driven by self-interest.

'In contrast, the Conservatives have always been committed to addressing the West Lothian Question. We said that leaving it unanswered not only stood in the way of fully accountable and fair government for England but also put at risk the Union that exists between, and gives considerable benefits to, Scotland and the other nations of the UK.'

Under Mr Clarke's plan, MPs from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland would continue to vote on UK-wide matters such as taxation, foreign policy and defence.

Bills that are certified as 'English-only' would pass through the normal House of Commons processes to the Second Reading, where all MPs would vote. But only English-based MPs, based on party strengths, would vote at the crucial committee stage - when substantive changes can be made. …