Replacement for disgraced Tory minister called devolution “Constitutional Vandalism”


  By a Newsnet reporter
The Conservative MP brought in to the UK Cabinet by David Cameron as a replacement for the disgraced former UK Culture Secretary, once described devolution as “constitutional vandalism”.
Following the resignation of the Culture Secretary Maria Miller after another Tory expenses scandal, her replacement in the job has been named as Sajid Javid.

However it has emerged that in 2010, when asked for his views on devolution, Mr Javid answered that it was “nothing short of constitutional vandalism”, and claimed – bizarrely – that it was only “done to shore up support for Labour”.

Javid, who had previously been a member of George Osborne’s Treasury team, has been promoted at a time when the long awaited Lord Strathclyde review into further devolution from the Conservartives, in the event of a No vote, is still to be published.

Commenting on Mr Javid’s promotion, Angus Robertson MP, SNP Westminster leader voiced his concern over the Tory MP’s “extreme hostility” to the Scottish Parliament and questioned whether David Cameron’s party had any kind of positive vision for further devolution.

He added: “Mr. Javid could not be clearer he doesn’t like any form of self-government for Scotland – and he certainly won’t be in favour of any more powers for Holyrood. How can the Tories possibly square his cynical comments with the promise to offer any kind of enhanced devolution if there is a No vote in September?

“It is all smoke and mirrors – as Mr. Javid’s comments confirm, the Tories would block further constitutional progress for Scotland, and everybody knows it.

“It becomes clearer every day that the only way to get the powers the people of Scotland need to create a fairer and more prosperous country is to vote Yes. The No campaign can only offer threats and scares. The Tories always put Westminster first – and Sajid Javid’s attitude to devolution could not be a clearer warning for anyone expecting anything different.”

The resignation of Maria Miller has brought the issue of Westminster MP’s expenses back into the spotlight.  Last week the head of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority called for power over scrutiny of MP’s expenses to be removed from parliamentarians.

Sir Ian Kennedy said: “To avoid further damage to parliament in the future, it should have the confidence to give away powers in regulating itself and see that independent regulation is the best, most transparent way forward.”

Responding to Miller’s resignation, a Labour Party spokesman said: “It is welcome that Maria Miller has finally done the right thing. By resigning, she has recognised that the public expect and deserve the highest standards from politicians.

“Labour said all along that you cannot have one rule for a Cabinet minister and one rule for everybody else.

“That it came to this raises questions for David Cameron, whose judgment has been found wanting. Yet again he has shown himself to be out of touch and a prime minister who only stands up for one of his own.”

However the issue is not without difficulty for Labour.  At the height of the expenses scandal, Labour MP Jim Murphy was forced to pay back £3499 after wrongly claiming cash for bathroom costs.

Murphy, who became Secretary of State for Scotland in 2008, designated his constituency home in Glasgow as his second home, for which he claimed £780 per month in mortgage interest payments in 2007-08.  The Labour MP for East Renfrewshire also clawed back almost £2000 in public cash to pay for his tax returns.