More tensions emerge within Unionist ranks as senior Tory calls for English only parliament


  By a Newsnet reporter
Unionist tensions over the prospect of more powers for Scotland have been exposed after a senior Conservative MP called for a parliament comprised only of English MPs.
Former Tory minister John Redwood today called for an English-only parliament if Scotland was given increased tax powers.

Mr Redwood said that if Scotland is given more powers then, “England will be left without a voice” and that it would be unsustainable for Scottish MPs to continue to vote on English only tax matters.

The former Tory minister said that more powers for Scotland would “exclude Scottish MPs from certain ministerial jobs.”

He added: “I strongly hold the view that it must be English representatives who do English business. And that will mean an English parliament in Westminster and a Union parliament in Westminster – and those selected for English seats will simply do two jobs.”

Mr Redwood’s comments follow increasing doubts over pledges from the pro-Union alliance that Scotland will get more powers in the event of a No vote.

Today it emerged that Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander had written to the leader of Welsh Plaid Cymru voicing his opposition to variable tax rates throughout the UK.  Lib Dem MP Alexander warned that such a policy would lead to high earners moving from one part of the UK to another.

Mr Alexander’s letter followed remarks this weekend by London Mayor Boris Johnson who said that there was “no reason” for Scotland to have more powers.  Johnson, who also announced his intention to lead the Conservative party, added: “There’s no need to do it.  What has England ever got out of this devolution process?”

Commenting, SNP Westminster Leader Angus Robertson MP said the call from Mr Redwood for English-only sessions at Westminster “has only exposed the resentment over any prospect of Scotland gaining additional powers.”

Mr Robertson added: “Following Boris Johnson’s high-profile opposition to increased devolution, John Redwood’s intervention today has only further undermined the No campaign’s credibility when they make claims about increased powers for Scotland.

“Meanwhile the Lib Dems have now made clear that the Westminster Government parties are opposed to Scotland gaining responsibility for setting tax rates in each income tax band.

“With this kind of opposition at Westminster, it is no wonder Alistair Darling struggled last week when pressed to name any increased powers the anti-independence parties had all agreed to offer Scotland.”

“The fact is that the only way to ensure that Scotland gains the responsibilities we need to tackle the damaging effects of Westminster’s cuts is to vote Yes next month.

“An independent Scotland that makes decisions in line with the priorities of people in Scotland is the surest and fairest way forward for everyone, both in Scotland and the rest of the UK.”

In a televised debate last week, Labour MP Alistair Darling who is the leader of the anti-independence group Better Together, appeared to struggle when asked to list two extra powers that Scotland would receive if there was a no vote in the referendum.

Opposition to extra powers for Scotland has already been voiced by Scottish Labour MPs.

Earlier this year Glasgow Labour MP Ian Davidson voiced opposition to plans to devolve tax powers in the event of a No vote.

Speaking to the Daily Record, Davidson said: “I have major reservations about what the impact of transferring tax-raising powers would be.  A substantial number of Scottish MPs have reservations for various reasons.”

The Glasgow Labour MP also warned that any transfer of income tax powers could see the end of the Barnett funding formula, which would cost Scotland billions of pounds.

They follow similar comments from Labour MP Thomas Docherty who in January said there wasn’t “any support at Westminster” for Scotland to receive more devolved powers and that the referendum was a choice “between separation and the settled system of devolution.”