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Sunday, 14 January, 2001, 15:38 GMT
Scottish MPs' voting row re-ignites
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All MPs are allowed full voting rights at Westminster
The Tories have reiterated plans to ban Scottish MPs from voting on English-only matters ahead of a key House of Commons debate on fox hunting south of the Border.

Confirmation of the party's aim came from Shadow Leader of the Commons, Angela Browning, on Sunday.

She was responding to reports that a number of Scotland's 72 Westminster representatives - including Dundee West MP Ernie Ross and Sandra Osborne, MP for Ayr - are planning to vote on the fox hunting bill.

Ms Browning said: "Labour introduced devolution to Scotland without any thought for the unfairness that this created in England. It will be incumbent upon us to sort this out.

The law has always been separate in Scotland yet English MPs regularly voted on Scottish matters

Dundee West MP, Ernie Ross
"When we come to office, matters that are purely English and Welsh matters will only be voted on by English and Welsh MPs and hunting is a classic example of this."

Ms Browning has backed calls by Wiltshire North MP James Gray for Scottish MPs not to take part in the key fox-hunting vote this week.

But Labour's Mr Ross said he would be voting and dismissed the protests, saying the Tories had made "no apologies" for voting on purely Scottish matters in the past.

He said: "The law has always been separate in Scotland yet English MPs regularly voted on Scottish matters, quite often early in the morning and with very little time allowed and they seem to have been quite comfortable with that.

'Expanding democracy'

"It's a bit late in the day for these people to discover consciences."

Mr Ross said the electorate would choose Labour's continuing constitutional changes ahead of the Conservative's pledge to bar Scots MPs from voting.

He said: "As we get involved more and more in the very necessary changes in order to expand democracy in this country, there will be people, and I believe there are not that many of them, who will talk of anomalies and it's our job to explain and ease those.

Tam Dalyell
Tam Dalyell: Will boycott fox hunting vote
"If we have an election this year I am quite confident people will support the constitutional arrangements we have arrived at so far and those that are ongoing."

However, fellow Scottish Labour MP Tam Dalyell said he would not be voting as the issue had "no conceivable connection" with Scotland.

He said: "I don't vote on matters that have no conceivable connection with the Scottish position. I didn't vote on matters of health care on Wednesday for precisely this reason.

"I never wanted the Scottish Parliament but people who supported it have to face up to devolution"

Point of principle

A spokesman for the SNP said: "The normal process of SNP MPs at Westminster is that we proceed with a self-denying ordinance by not voting on English domestic legislation.

"We objected throughout the long, dark Tory years when English Tory MPs interfered in the domestic affairs of Scotland, for example by imposing the poll tax on Scotland.

"So on a point of principle, SNP MPs' normal practice is not to vote on English legislation."

A spokesman for the Labour Party said: "All MPs have a free vote on this matter and all MPs at Westminster have equal voting status."

Last year Conservative leader William Hague promised to stop Scottish MPs voting on English laws within days of the next Tory government coming to power.

Mr Hague promised "English votes on English laws" to redress what he said was an imbalance in the UK's constitution that arose after the establishment of the Scottish Parliament and devolution.

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See also:

21 Dec 00 | UK Politics
Hunting: How they voted
13 Nov 00 | UK Politics
Hague to curtail power of Scots MPs
28 Mar 00 | UK Politics
Blair defines 'British values'
04 Oct 99 | Scotland
Hague demands Scots votes ban
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