Scotland’s first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, has dismissed William Hague’s plans for English laws for English people, and committed to vote on English-only issues at “each and every opportunity” when Scotland’s interests are affected.
In a move designed to undermine proposals unveiled by the leader of the Commons last week, the SNP leader said her MPs in Westminster would now vote on budgetary changes nominally focused on England if they felt there would be an impact in Scotland.
The nationalist party has previously had a policy of not voting on matters which purely affect England. Last month Sturgeon signalled that her party would in future vote on matters concerning the NHS in England, because it was felt that changes in policy would affect the Scottish health service.
Now, in the wake of the proposals produced by Hague on English votes for English laws under which MPs representing constituencies in England would have a veto, leaving Scottish MPs with a debating role, Sturgeon said her party needed to ensure that Scottish MPs continued to have an equal status in Westminster.
She writes: “That’s why one of the first objectives of a strong group of SNP MPs will be to push back against the Tories’ proposals and work to ensure continued protection of the rights of all Scottish MPs to have a say on budgets, taxation and other key issues for as long as those powers remain at Westminster.
“And we will make our voices heard, when appropriate, by voting on matters which affect England but which also impact on Scotland financially. We will vote on nominally English matters at each and every opportunity when Scotland’s national and economic interests are directly affected.”
Under Hague’s plans, MPs for English seats would have a veto on tax, and issues like schools and health, which only affect England. Before a legislative bill affecting only England, or England and Wales, is put to its final Commons vote, English – and in some cases Welsh – MPs would meet separately to consider it.
The bill could not proceed without the backing of a majority of this English grand committee. MPs from all parts of the UK would, however, be entitled to take part in the final Commons vote passing the bill into law.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010
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