Friday 6 December 2019

Leaders in London deny backtracking on deal for Scotland

The SNP’s Alex Salmond claims Scottish voters have been tricked
The SNP’s Alex Salmond claims Scottish voters have been tricked

David Hughes

BRITAIN'S Prime Minister David Cameron and Labour Party leader Ed Miliband have insisted there will be no going back on plans to devolve further powers to Scotland, despite bitter divisions over future constitutional reform.

Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond claimed voters had been tricked into rejecting independence by the joint vow promising a new settlement issued by Mr Cameron, Mr Miliband and Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg in the days before the referendum.

Mr Salmond, who is stepping down from the job, said the "Westminster gang" were already moving away from the pledge they made.

But the Prime Minister said "new powers over tax, spending and welfare are on their way to Scotland" and the timetable for setting out the plans would be met.

The Labour leader said: "We're going to deliver. No ifs, no buts, we're going to deliver on that promise."

A Downing Street spokesman said: "The three pro-Union parties have made commitments on further powers for the Scottish Parliament and we have set out a clear timetable.

"Lord Smith of Kelvin has agreed to oversee the process to take forward the devolution commitments with powers over tax, spending and welfare all agreed by November and draft legislation published by January. This government has delivered on devolution and we will do so again in the next parliament."

Mr Cameron has said further devolution meant it was necessary to change the way the Commons worked to ensure that only English MPs can vote on legislation which only affects England.

This desire for the new settlement for Scotland to go hand in hand with efforts to answer the question about the rights of Scottish and English MPs has been met with wariness from Labour, which has most of Scotland's 59 seats.

But Downing Street said the two processes would run in parallel, and the timetable for the Scottish reform package did not depend on reaching agreement over English votes for English laws. A No 10 source said: "That will happen, come what may, no ifs, no buts. It is not conditional on anything."

Mr Cameron said the ability of MPs from the devolved nations to vote on matters which do not affect their constituents was a "basic unfairness" in the constitution.

The cross-party consensus forged between the three Westminster leaders in the effort to preserve the Union has shattered following Mr Cameron's announcement that he was looking at wider constitutional change, which came shortly after Scottish voters rejected independence by 55pc to 45pc.

Irish Independent

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