'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?
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election

Poll of Polls

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

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000 ...

Ashdown Group: Data Scientist - London - £50,000 + bonus

£35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...

Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Development) - Kingston

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...

Ashdown Group: Editor-in-chief - Financial Services - City, London

£60000 - £70000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power