'English votes for English laws' plan by Tories

Plans to ban Scottish MPs from voting on laws for England will be published by the Conservative Party today.

David Cameron is expected to endorse proposals by Kenneth Clarke, the former chancellor, who wants votes in Parliament that only affect England to be restricted to MPs representing English constituencies.

The blueprint, by a democracy task force chaired by Mr Clarke, is the Tories' response to the "English question" arising from the creation of the Scottish Parliament, which means English MPs cannot vote on matters such as health and education devolved to the Scottish Parliament.

Tory sources say the party has not decided which issues would only be determined by English MPs. However, they could mirror the devolved powers handed to the Scottish Parliament on health, education and prisons. Most other issues are regarded as "reserved powers" because they have UK-wide implications and are still decided at Westminster. One potential flaw in the Tory plan is that it could lead to disputes over how to define an "English only" Bill. Scottish MPs could argue that laws would have "a knock-on effect" north of the border and claim full voting rights.

Wales is unlikely to be affected because the Welsh Assembly enjoys fewer powers than its "big brother" in Edinburgh. But the issue could arise in future if more functions were transferred to the Cardiff assembly.

The "English votes for English laws" plan will provoke Labour claims that the Tories are creating a two-tier parliament at Westminster with Scottish MPs becoming second-class citizens.

Mr Clarke will reject such criticism. He will propose that Scottish MPs would be able to vote on Bills at their second and third reading stages, while restricting votes to MPs with English seats when the fine detail of laws is debated during the committee stage. He will propose an understanding that Scottish MPs would not overturn amendments agreed by English MPs at the third reading.

Mr Cameron wants to rebalance the British constitution after devolution in Scotland. But he is sensitive to the charge that changes could put the union between England and Scotland at risk and has therefore rejected the idea of proposing an English parliament or "grand committee" of MPs to handle all stages of laws affecting only England. That idea has been proposed by Sir Malcolm Rifkind, another former Tory cabinet minister.

Labour will accuse the Tories of playing into the hands of the Scottish National Party (SNP), which controls the Scottish Parliament after ousting Labour from power last year and sees "English votes for English laws" as a stepping stone to its goal of Scottish independence.

But Labour's attempt to attack the Tory plan may be hampered by turmoil in the Labour Party in Scotland after the resignation at the weekend of Wendy Alexander, its leader in the Scottish Parliament, after she was criticised over a campaign donation from a Jersey businessman not entitled to vote in UK elections.

Mr Clarke also wants a review of the Barnett formula which guarantees Scotland's share of UK public spending, basing it on population rather than need. It has been criticised as too generous by some English MPs now the Scottish executive enjoys the power to spend money on policies such as cutting prescription charges and university fees.

Ms Alexander was said by ministers to have quit because her family "had had enough". The race is on to succeed her. The possible candidates include the deputy leader, Cathy Jamieson, and the MSPs Margaret Curran, Iain Gray and Andy Kerr

The SNP said it was "not worried" about who succeeded her. John Swinney, of the SNP, said Labour was in turmoil and its rival factions were "fighting like ferrets in a sack".

* The Government will face fresh accusations from a former Scotland Yard chief today that it is failing to protect the security of Britain’s borders. In a report commissioned by Mr Cameron, the former Metropolitan Police Commissioner Lord Stevens of Kirkwhelpington will say ministers lack a clear border strategy.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Cleaner

£15000 - £16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you've got first class custo...

Recruitment Genius: Mobile Applications Developer / Architect - iOS and Android

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity to join a medium s...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Account Executive - £40K OTE

£11830 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Working in a friendly, sales ta...

Recruitment Genius: Web Designer

£15000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's leading web des...

Day In a Page

John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy
UK heatwave: Temperature reaches 39.8 degrees on Central Line - the sweatiest place in London

39.8 degrees recorded on Tube

There's hot (London) and too damn hot (the Underground). Simon Usborne braved the Central line to discover what its passengers suffer
Kitchens go hi-tech: From robot chefs to recipe-shopping apps, computerised cooking is coming

Computerised cooking is coming

From apps that automatically make shopping lists from your recipe books to smart ovens and robot chefs, Kevin Maney rounds up innovations to make your mouth water
Jessie Cave interview: The Harry Potter star has published a feminist collection of cartoons

Jessie Cave's feminist cartoons

The Harry Potter star tells Alice Jones how a one-night stand changed her life
Football Beyond Borders: Even the most distruptive pupils score at homework club

Education: Football Beyond Borders

Add football to an after-school homework club, and even the naughtiest boys can score
10 best barbecue books

Fire up the barbie: 10 best barbecue books

We've got Bibles to get you grilling and smoking like a true south American pro
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power
Ron Dennis exclusive: ‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

Ron Dennis shrugs off a poor start to the season in an exclusive interview, and says the glory days will come back
Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most