Hague reveals English-only vote plans

WILLIAM Hague has set out the options for English-only laws as the Conservatives try to punish Labour for blocking change.

William Hague.

The Leader of the House published the choices for MPs considering a constitutional change in how English laws are made following new plans for increased devolution to Scotland.

The Commons leader criticised Labour for declining to take part in a committee tasked by Prime Minister David Cameron with resolving the long-standing questions in the hours after the Scottish independence referendum result was announced.

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Shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan insisted Labour’s call for a Consultation Convention was a better solution to the different proposals announced yesterday, warning against allowing the union to be divided “by the back door”.

Conservative proposals see three options for reform, including having English MPs in control of all steps in legislation, English MPs having an exclusive say over amending stages of new laws or a third option of handing this committee an effective veto.

The Liberal Democrats called for “devolution on demand” for regions where areas could choose devolution powers from a menu if they meet requirements

On English votes the Lib Dems said English MPs should have a stronger say on English only laws and a veto.

Announcing the options, Mr Hague said: “This is an issue that too many people have avoided for too long and that can no longer be put aside.”

Hitting out at the Labour party, Mr Hague said: “It is only on matters concerning England that the opposition are hostile to cross party talks.”

The Richmond MP added that the Labour party had frozen itself out of talks, saying that he had spoken to Labour council leaders on the need for devolution, including the leaders of Sheffield and Leeds councils.

“The Labour leadership have preformed the remarkable feat of being out of touch with themselves,” Mr Hague said, adding Labour’s claims that they were attempting to lead the debate on reform were at the “risible end of the scale of parliamentary statements”.

Former Home Secretary David Blunkett told MPs he thought it would be “sensible to tale a deep breath and address these issue after May 7,” a move Mr Hague said would have to happen after all sides had commented on the proposals.

John Redwood led Conservative backbench calls for changes to how politicians in Westminster approach laws which only affect England.

Mr Redwood told Mr Hague: “England expects English

For Labour, Mr Khan said Sir William McKay’s proposal for a committee stage made up of only English MPs to scrutinise and amend English-only legislation - or an English and Welsh approach for issues affecting both countries - should be looked at.

Mr Khan said Labour would study the command paper, adding: “Our criteria will not be what’s in the interests of the Conservative Party but in the interests of our country.

“Uniting our country is more important than uniting the Tory party.”

The Conservatives will consult on their three options before announcing in the New Year which move they will formally back with a possible Commons vote.

A recent poll showed the majority of Yorkshire voters backed English-only voting on issues which do not effect Scotland, a result repeated nationwide.