In-out vote ‘will start English devolution debate’

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The Scottish independence campaign will lead to a fresh debate over English devolution, MPs from across the political spectrum said yesterday.

The Scottish Parliament is already due to take on new tax powers next year and further devolution from Westminster is expected to follow if Scots vote ‘no’ in September’s referendum.

That, in turn, is likely to again raise the issue of Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish MPs voting on English matters.

Shadow International Development Secretary Jim Murphy said the current arrangements for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, and the powers wielded in London over transport, have created a “hotch potch” situation in terms of MPs in Westminster voting on issues which do not affect their constituents.

“This is an issue for the people of England rather than for me as a Glaswegian but my sense is as a go round about England, in the North of England in particular and down in the South West of England especially, there is a sense of London being very remote, too much power for the City of London and a sense they would like to make decisions closer to where they live.”

He added: “My preference, but it’s up to the people of England to decide on their preference, would be for a form of regional government which I think over time would grow.”

Former Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ming Campbell said it is no longer “tenable” for MPs from other parts of the UK to be voting on English issues and a “global settlement” is needed. He said the rise of the UK Independence Party could be explained in part by a desire to assert English national identity.

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