Wales politics

Welsh MPs join devolution debate on further change

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Media caption'Slippery slope' to UK break-up? Cardiff West MP Kevin Brennan poses the question during the devolution debate

Welsh MPs have taken part in a House of Commons debate on devolution and UK-wide constitutional change after the Scottish referendum.

The three main Westminster parties' pledged more devolution to Scotland days before it rejected independence.

Commons Leader William Hague said a balanced settlement for England, Wales and Northern Ireland was vital.

Cardiff West Labour MP Kevin Brennan warned English Votes on English issues would be "part of a slippery slope".

It follows a vow by Prime Minister David Cameron to give tax-raising powers to the Scottish Parliament, as well as urging moves "in tandem" to restrict Scottish MPs from voting on English matters.

As the debate on Tuesday began, it emerged Labour was boycotting a body set up by the Conservatives to examine the role of English MPs in Parliament.

The BBC's Norman Smith said the party regarded it as "a political stitch-up".

Labour favours more devolution within England.

Mr Brennan said restricting Scottish MPs voting rights would "be part of a slippery slope towards a break-up of the United Kingdom".

Image copyright PA
Image caption Constitutional change is high on the political agenda following the Scottish independence referendum

But Mr Hague, a former Welsh secretary, told MPs the cabinet committee he chairs was the best way of resolving the immediate questions over England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

He suggested the UK government could be open to a constitutional convention to discuss the wider issues raised by greater devolution to the different nations of the Union.

"But no one is suggesting delay in the commitments we have made to Scotland in order to wait for a constitutional convention," said Mr Hague.

"No one is suggesting delay in the amendments we make to the Wales Bill and other commitments to Wales.

"Equally, it is right to address the needs of England without delay in the coming months and that is why we propose to do so."

'Wholly wrong'

Delyn MP David Hanson, another Labour member, said a third of his constituents were served by hospitals in England, "thousands" of them worked in England in businesses "governed by English departments" and rail lines served both sides of the Welsh-English border.

He asked Mr Hague: "Is it right and proper that any proposal that comes from him stops me voting and speaking on those issues?"

Mr Hague replied that such arguments had not prevented people advocating more powers for Wales and Scotland and "we reach a point when it is necessary to provide fairness for England".

Clwyd West MP David Jones, another former Conservative Secretary of State for Wales, backed that principle.

"Given of course the complexity of the devolution settlement in this country what is actually meant - usually - is English and Welsh votes for English and Welsh laws," he said.

"It's wholly wrong that members of this house representing parts of the country where the relevant legislative competence has been devolved should be able to exert their influence in areas where it has not been devolved, and that affect England, or England and Wales only."

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