Election 2015 Scotland

Election 2015: Tory pledge over English laws veto condemned in Scotland

Budget box Image copyright AP
Image caption Scottish Labour and the SNP believe English MPs will be given a bigger say on future Budgets if the Tory plan is implemented

A Conservative pledge to give MPs in England a veto over income tax decisions in the next parliament has been condemned by Scottish politicians.

The detail appeared in the Tory manifesto, published by UK party leader David Cameron.

Labour and the SNP said the move was a "betrayal" of the agreement made in the cross-party Smith Commission following last year's referendum in Scotland.

Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson said the criticism was "nonsense".

The day after the referendum - in which voters rejected independence by 55% to 45% - Mr Cameron appointed Lord Smith to head up a commission looking at more powers for Holyrood.

It recommended that "MPs representing constituencies across the whole of the UK will continue to decide the UK's Budget, including income tax".

'Brutal betrayal'

However, the Conservative Party's election campaign plan has revealed that it too would allow English MPs to vote on financial matters which solely affect England - before a Budget in its entirety was placed before the House of Commons for a final vote.

Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy condemned the move saying it was a "brutal betrayal" of the consensus achieved by the Smith Commission.

He told the BBC: "What the Tories have announced today is absolutely dreadful, and proves that once again Scotland can never trust the Tories.

"And this goes alongside the SNP's plans for full fiscal autonomy which would cut Scotland off from all taxes across the UK. So we have two extremes here, both of which are bad for Scotland, and Labour will campaign against both."

Image caption The Scottish Conservative's Annabel Goldie has defended her party against criticism from Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy, the SNP's John Swinney and Scottish Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie


The SNP argued that as long as UK budget decisions affect Scotland, Scottish MPs must have a vote.

John Swinney called the move a "direct betrayal" of the agreement, saying: "It would be absurd for Scottish MPs not to be able to participate in decisions taken at a Westminster level that affected the people of Scotland.

"What the Conservatives have done in their manifesto today is to trash the Smith Commission report and they've acted to demonstrate exactly why they are out of touch with opinion within Scotland."

'Favouring independence'

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie also voiced concern over the announcement.

He argued that English votes for English laws is a venture that could help those that favour independence.

He said: "The Conservatives want to keep the United Kingdom together but their proposals will potentially destabilise that United Kingdom, by giving more powers for English Conservatives and diminish voting rights for Scottish MPs.

"I think that that is a dangerous game and something that we should reject."

'Important presence'

But the Conservative leadership dismissed the criticism was "complete and utter nonsense".

The Scottish Conservative Party's Annabel Goldie said that Scottish MPs would continue to be a very important presence for Scotland at Westminster.

She said: "Scottish MPs will vote in things like the budget, they will vote in things like the exemption - the level at which you start to pay tax - but of course what will happen for Scotland in terms of rates and bands of taxes?

"We'll have to vote on that in Holyrood. Therefore English MPs will have to deal with their end of that at Westminster."

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