Published on 19 Sep 2014 Sections ,

William Hague: our constitution is unbalanced

Commons leader William Hague tells Channel 4 News the constitution needs to be rebalanced to give English votes to English MPs.

Prime Minister David Cameron on Friday unveiled proposals to allow English, Welsh and Northern Irish MPs to vote alone on policies only impacting their voters, mirroring pledges made on fresh devolution to Scotland.

The prime minister said he hoped to win cross-party support for the plans, which he outlined in Downing Street shortly after Scotland rejected independence in an historic referendum.

‘Unbalanced constitution’

Speaking after the referendum result in Scotland, Mr Hague told Channel 4 News: “The commitment to devolution in Scotland is very clear and will go ahead.

“[But] there is an anomaly at the moment whereby Scottish members of parliament are voting on what happens on the health service in England but the English MPs and the Welsh MPs are not voting on what happens on the health service in Scotland. So our constitution is unbalanced at the moment.”

Labour have tried to ignore the issue where England stands in this. This issue cannot be ignored no longer. William Hague

Mr Hague, however, admitted that the proposal had not been agreed in cabinet. He said: “This is a proposal by David Cameron as party leader and as prime minister this morning.”

Mr Hague will now draw up the detail of the plans, to be discussed in a cabinet committee, with the same November deadline as that for the detailed proposals for Scotland.

“Have we had a discussion in the coalition about it? No, we haven’t, That is what we have got to go on and do now.”

‘Dissolution of powers’

Asked if the Tories had set a political trap for Labour and Ed Miliband, Mr Hague replied: “We’re already in the situation where the prime minister of the United Kingdom can’t change the laws in Scotland because it has been devolved, and at some point as that continues there is a logical consequence in England, so we’re not advocating a new principle here.

“As for the Labour party, they will have to determine their position on this. They have been longstanding advocates to dissolution in parts of the United Kingdom. They have tried to ignore the issue where England stands in this. This issue cannot be ignored no longer.

“It’s open to them to seek agreement with the other parties about how we will do this. Just because we agree on keeping Scotland in the United Kingdom, it does not mean the parties agree about a range of other issues.

“We are the government and we have to take responsibility for the country but we will invite to discussions on this the Labour and indeed other parties.”