Hague unveils English-only votes plan

William Hague has set out options that could see Scottish MPs banned from voting on English-only laws.

Leader of the House of Commons William Hague

The Leader of the House today set out options for a 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.

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Responding for the Opposition, shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan called for devolution to cities and regions, and a reformed House of Lords, while warning against allowing the union to be divided “by the back door”.

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”

Conservative proposals see three options for reform, including having English MPs in control of all steps in legislation, English MPs having an exclusive just over amending stages 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.

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.”

Mr Hague added that Labour party had frozen itself out of talks, and added that he had spoken to Labour council leaders on the need for devolution, including lesdaders of Sheffield and Leeds councils.

“The Labour leadership have preformed the remarkable feat of being out of touch with themselves.” Mr Hague said.

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.

The Conservatives will consult on the three options before announcing in the New Year which move they will formally back.

Labour’s Graham Allen, who chairs the Political and Constitutional Reform Select Committee, criticised the plans.

He said: “The Hague Cabinet committee set up to look at the consequences of the Scottish referendum has instead focused on one tiny Westminster issue and deliberately missed the opportunity to bring planned devolution to England.

“England will remain under Whitehall control with a little different window dressing in a rubber-stamp Parliament. Ironically Parliament has been ignored in this process with its own Select Committee deliberately refused a hearing. Government sees Parliament’s role as delivering for Whitehall not championing devolution to the localities of England.”

He added: “Our politics is broken, it needs fixing. This is a moment for political leadership, not complacency and business as usual.

“Focusing on one partisan issue and ignoring the wider historic opportunities smacks of rearranging the green benches on the deck of the Titanic.”