Hague Pledges Reduced Power for Scots Lawmakers After ReferendumRobert Hutton
William Hague, leader of the House of Commons, set out the ground for a new U.K. constitution that could make it harder for the opposition Labour Party to win power.
As they campaigned against Scottish independence in last month’s referendum, the leaders of all three of the main U.K. political parties offered Scots more powers over tax and welfare spending. Following the rejection of independence, Prime Minister David Cameron said these changes must also mean restrictions on the ability of Scottish members of the House of Commons to vote on English-only matters.
“Dither or delay is not an option,” Hague told lawmakers as he opened a debate on the subject of devolving powers in parliament in London today. “Where a matter only affects England, the key decision should be made by English representatives.”
That would create a problem for opposition leader Ed Miliband, whose Labour Party holds most of the seats in Scotland. If, as polls suggest, he were to win next year’s election with only a slim majority, he might not have enough votes to push through legislation affecting only England. Labour said today it will boycott cross-party talks on the issue.
Labour’s Sadiq Khan said it was vital to avoid creating “two tiers” of lawmaker. “There is no easy federal answer to the problem,” he said. “The British people want to change the way the country’s run, but they won’t put up with a top-down imposed solution.”