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Thursday, July 15, 1999 Published at 09:29 GMT 10:29 UK

UK Politics

'English votes on English laws'

Mr Blair refused to give in to William Hague

Tory leader William Hague is calling for Scottish and Welsh MPs to be barred from voting on English matters at Westminster.

Mr Hague is demanding "English votes on English laws" to make the constitution fairer after devolution.

The move would fundamentally alter the basis on which Westminster operates.

Mr Hague's comments are being made in a speech announcing a policy review.

England only

He argues that devolution of powers to the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly mean a vastly wider array of issues decided at Westminster apply only to England.

MPs from outside England should have no right to vote on such measures, he suggests.

[ image: Tam Dalyell originally posed the West Lothian Question]
Tam Dalyell originally posed the West Lothian Question
But Tony Blair dismissed Mr Hague's demands during Wednesday's Prime Minister's Question Time.

The points raised by the Tory leader are similar to those highlighted by maverick left wing MP Tam Dalyell.

The so-called West Lothian Question was posed by Mr Dalyell as one of the pitfalls of devolution and was seized upon by people opposed to an assembly being formed in Scotland.

Prior to the creation of the Scottish Assembly the Conservatives were opposed to devolution and used the West Lothian Question as one of the central planks of their argument against it.

Tory minority

Even if Scottish and Welsh MPs were banned from voting on English matters, the Tories would still be in a minority in the Commons on those votes.

The Conservatives have 161 MPs in total, all of them representing seats in England, but there are 529 English seats in the Commons.

The figures excludes Tory deputy speakers Sir Alan Haselhurst and Michael Lord who do not normally vote.

They also exclude Eddisbury, a former Conservative seat, which is currently the scene of a by-election following Sir Alastair Goodlad's departure to become High Commissioner to Australia.

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