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Thursday, July 15, 1999 Published at 20:34 GMT 21:34 UK

UK Politics

'English votes on English laws'

The Tory leader fears an English nationalist backlash

BBC Political Correspondent John Pienaar: "Labour says Hague's views are dangerous"
Conservative leader William Hague has committed his party to stopping Scottish MPs from voting on English laws.

He believes the proposals will help prevent strain being put on the United Kingdom following the creation of the Scottish Parliament.

Speaking at the Centre for Policy Studies Institute, he said his party's manifesto for the next election will state that "English MPs should have exclusive say over English laws".

[ image: William Hague has not ruled out setting up an English Parliament]
William Hague has not ruled out setting up an English Parliament
He said it was unfair that Scotland now had its own law-making body, but still had a say at Westminster on legislation affecting England.

Mr Hague also expressed his concern over the risk that nationalism will "build up".

"People will become increasingly resentful that decisions are being made in England by people from other parts of the UK on matters that that English people did not have a say on elsewhere," he said.

William Hague: "English nationalism will build up"
"I think it is a dangerous thing to allow resentment to build up in a country. We have got to make the rules fair now."

Mr Hague said he would prefer to achieve his aims either through legislation or by Scottish MPs voluntarily agreeing not to vote on new English laws.

However, he said he had not totally ruled out the creation of an English Parliament, which some campaigners have called for.

[ image: Tony Blair disagrees with Mr Hague's proposal]
Tony Blair disagrees with Mr Hague's proposal
Prime Minister Tony Blair rejected Mr Hague's proposals when the matter was raised at Prime Minister's Question Time on Wednesday.

And Scottish Secretary John Reid on Thursday accused Mr Hague of "fanning the flames of English nationalism".

Donald Dewar, Scotland's First Minister and a Westminster MP, said: "I would be disappointed if we started making distinctions between MPs at Westminster."

Menzies Campbell, Liberal Democrat MP for North East Fife, said his party had long supported the idea of a federal government for the UK.

He said: "The Tories never complained about MPs from Northern Ireland voting at Westminster on everything so long as Stormont was in existence."

'Narrow English nationalism'

Scottish Liberal Democrat MPs are to vote on whether to deny themselves participation in purely English votes.

As a result of devolution, some MPs are also members of the Scottish Parliament or the Welsh Assembly.

While the Scottish Parliament can make legislation in many policy areas and set some of its own tax rates, the assembly can only alter Westminster laws as they apply in Wales.

Plaid Cymru said Mr Hague's suggestion that Welsh MPs should no longer be allowed to vote on matters affecting England "smacked of a retreat into a narrow and sectarian form of English nationalism".

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