England 1) Commons vote proposed on excluding Scottish MPs from English business

timeshomerule“David Cameron will tell MPs that he wants to hold a vote on English home rule before the next election, cornering Ed Miliband as the leaders stave off accusations of backtracking over devolution. The prime minister will honour his pledge to give greater powers to Scotland regardless of whether he reaches a deal on “English votes for English laws”, Downing Street said last night. There is growing anger north of the border at the suggestion that the three main Westminster parties will fail to deliver the fast-tracked handover of powers promised before last Thursday’s referendum.” – The Times(£)

  • “The minimalist approach is simply to withdraw the right of Scottish MPs to vote on Bills that affect only England (or only England and Wales, or only England Wales and Northern Ireland). What would happen, though, if different parties had a majority with and without Scotland? Would we have a separate English Cabinet and Prime Minister? And if we were going to do that, might it make sense to go the whole hog and have a separately elected Witan or Folkmoot or whatever you want to call it, meeting somewhere else?” – Daniel Hannan Daily Telegraph

>Today: Nadhim Zahawi MP on Comment: No more inertia. We need English votes for English laws as soon as possible

>Yesterday: Lord Ashcroft on Comment: A victory for Project Reasonable Caution – but let’s not learn the wrong lesson from Scotland

England 2) PM hosts Chequers summit to thrash out the English offer

REDWOOD Blog“David Cameron will today seek to quell unrest over ‘bribes’ for Scotland – as senior Tories insist laws giving England equivalent powers must be passed within months. The Prime Minister has invited 20 MPs, including some of his fiercest backbench critics, to his country retreat, Chequers, to thrash out plans for ‘English votes for English laws’. Many Conservatives say powers over tax, welfare and spending must only be ceded to Edinburgh if Scottish MPs are barred from voting on them at Westminster.” – Daily Mail

  • “John Redwood, from the Tory right, made clear yesterday he intended to hold Mr Cameron to his words that English and Scottish reform would be held “in tandem”. He said: “I heard the prime minister make a very solemn pledge in clear speech to the British people offering English devolution on the steps of Downing Street last week. I fully support that. I’m going to go to Chequers in the spirit of wanting to help him implement his pledge as quickly as possible.” – The Times(£)
  • “Mr Wharton, Tory MP for Stockton South, said: “If Scotland gets even more power, there is the potential for them to use that to compete even more effectively. The challenge we have got in the north of England is to make the case for some sort of package to ensure equality of opportunity for the regions of the North.” – Daily Telegraph


England 3) Miliband dodges the issue

mailedhomerule“Ed Miliband refused 13 times yesterday to back David Cameron’s proposal for ‘home rule’ for England. As the fallout from Scotland’s independence referendum threatened to engulf both main political parties, the Labour leader repeatedly declined to agree that Scottish MPs should be barred from voting on laws that only affect England. He warned that the move would create two classes of MP – and suggested it could ‘drive our country apart’. However, there has been a backlash among his own MPs, many of whom warn that the party could be seen as ‘anti-English’ unless it supports reform that gives the country the same rights promised to Scotland.” – Daily Telegraph

  • “Predictably, the hapless Mr Miliband stumbled straight in – refusing 13 times yesterday to agree to his MPs north of the border giving up their voting rights on devolved matters. All he could offer was some lame blather about English MPs getting greater rights of ‘scrutiny’ – which, as Mr Cameron had calculated, will rightly go down very badly indeed on the doorstep next May.” – Leader Daily Mail
  • “Senior party figures – including at least six members of Mr Miliband’s shadow cabinet – fear the Opposition Leader’s stand is a major blunder. The figures, lead by Labour policy boss Jon Cruddas, fear it will play into Ukip’s hands who now pose a serious challenge to dozens of Northern Labour MPs, and allow Nigel Farage and the Tories to paint Mr Miliband as “anti-English”. It also emerged that a group of Labour English MPs are preparing to “caucus” together against Mr Miliband – with Commons Deputy Speaker Lindsay Hoyle described by pals as “utterly fuming” with his leader.” – The Sun(£)
  • Labour to “reach out” to Yes voters – BBC
  • Benn attacks “two classes of MP” – BBC
  • “Labour has repeatedly given or tried to give more powers to parts of the UK that, interestingly, usually vote Labour. Labour is not opposed to devolution — only to devolution to England. It’s not opposed to speedy devolution — Ed Miliband was as happy as the other panicked party leaders to make a “vow” of continued English subsidy of Scotland.” – Tim Montgomerie The Times(£)
  • Ed Miliband, the voice of everyday working people – Michael Deacon Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: LeftWatch: Labour made this English rod for its own back

England 4) Lib Dems say consensus with Labour is needed

“An attempt by David Cameron to outflank Ed Miliband on a new constitutional settlement for the UK ran into trouble on Sunday night when a senior Liberal Democrat cabinet minister said that the plans for devolution in England should not proceed without attempting a consensus with Labour. As Downing Street was forced to issue an unequivocal “no ifs, no buts” declaration that the prime minister would deliver further powers to the Scottish parliament, Danny Alexander criticised the Tory handling of the aftermath of last week’s referendum north of the border.” – The Guardian

  • “Lord Ashdown, the former Liberal Democrat leader, accused the Prime Minister of “pretty disgraceful” behaviour. He  told Sky News: “Mr Cameron, quite deliberately to satisfy his backbenchers, and also to create a trap for Labour, played politics with his own promise… That is, in my view, extremely foolish and extremely damaging to his reputation and to the reputation of Westminster. He must deliver on that. That promise to Scotland was made in something as close to blood as you get in politics.” – The Independent
  • Salmond: No voters were tricked – BBC

England 5) Cut the number of Scottish MPs proposes Burns

burns“Conor Burns, Conservative MP for Bournemouth West, said if more powers are handed to the Scottish parliament he wanted to reduce the number of MPs that Scotland sends to Westminster. “Certainly I think there should be a discussion on the number of Westminster Scottish MPs,” he said. “You’ve had significant devolution to Scotland already and three Westminster parties want to devolve more. Reflecting that, you’ve got members of the Scottish parliament who are very well resourced with staff allowances and responsibilities to support their constituent casework and yet you’ve got Westminster Scottish MPs who are no longer doing casework on devolved issues, who are also supported to the same extent as MPs representing English constituencies, who are doing a lot more casework. So in essence it boils down to this: we already have two classes of MPs.” – The Times(£)

Field: Labour must accept home rule for England

“Major constitutional proposals will be enacted before the election. Labour needs to seize the initiative here and become pro-English. Its failure in the coming days of the party’s annual conference to realise the extent to which the political game has changed risks our long-term survival as a contestant for power in the new English Assembly.” – Frank Field Daily Mail

Hoey: What about the English voter?

Kate_Hoey_1395758a“Many of my constituents call themselves English first and then British. They, not surprisingly, feel very left out of the current debate on Scottish devolution. The establishment’s fix to give even more powers to Scotland has left them angry and bewildered. Angry that their taxes are going to give an extra £1,500 more per head to Scottish residents than English residents and bewildered that anyone should think the current situation fair. If I have to accept that Scotland can make big decisions on health and education without me as an MP for an English constituency having any say at all, what right has an MP for a Scottish constituency to vote on laws that only apply to England?” – Kate Hoey The Sun(£)

Ridley: We don’t need an English Parliament

mattridley“I’ve never understood why people find the West Lothian question so hard. We solve it every day in practice: British ministers and civil servants already have no powers over Scottish education, Scottish agricultural subsidies, Scottish health service priorities, Scottish sentencing policy. It works fine. It’s perfectly possible to exclude Scottish MPs from voting and speaking on these and many other matters, too. There will be the odd moment of confusion when an inebriated Glaswegian MP wanders into the wrong committee debate, but so what? No need to build an over-budget, ugly building in Sheffield and fill it with jobsworth “EMPs”.” – Matt Ridley The Times(£)

Boris: Devolution plans “blisteringly fast”

Boris stands“The “vow” that appears on the front of last week’s Daily Record is actually quite vague. It boils down to “extensive” new powers for the Scottish parliament and government, and an agreement to get to work on the agenda as soon as possible. David Cameron is putting William Hague in charge, and we are promised details by Burns night in January. That strikes me as blisteringly fast, when you consider the gravity of the matters at stake. If we give any more powers to Scottish politicians, then we simply must address the basic unfairness to England; indeed, it should have been addressed years ago, as soon as devolution kicked in.” – Boris Johnson Daily Telegraph

Labour propose freeze in Child Benefit

“Child benefit would be reduced in real terms by an incoming Labour government, Ed Balls will announce on Monday as the party tries to convince voters it is ready to make painful cuts in order to balance the nation’s books. In his speech to the Labour Party conference in Manchester, the shadow Chancellor will risk a backlash from women voters by arguing that all sections of society will have to make sacrifices so Labour could clear the deficit by 2020.” – The Independent

  • Balls promises to slash Ministers pay – The Sun(£)

>Today: LeftWatch: Balls sings a song of savings, does a dance of deficit reduction, then leaves the stage to spend, spend, spend

Labour candidates back tax rises

Tax Take“Labour general election candidates support tax rises to reduce the deficit and are in favour of scrapping Trident, new research for the BBC suggests. An exclusive survey of 73 candidates for BBC1’s Sunday Politics found that 42% backed raising taxes after 2015 as the “main” way to balance the books. More than half polled also said the nuclear deterrent should be scrapped. Shadow Business Secretary Chuka Umunna rejected claims of a drift to the left, saying Labour was a “centrist” party.” – BBC

  • “Analysis published today claims that Labour tax policies could cost the UK 300,000 jobs and more than £25billion in GDP. The Centre for Policy Studies report analyses ten major tax announcements made by the Opposition, including an increase in corporation tax for most firms from 20 per cent to 21 per cent, a new top rate of income tax of 50p, a mansion tax on expensive homes, and a new financial transactions tax.” – Daily Mail

Most SNP Ministers backs Sturgeon to be the next leader

“Almost every member of the Scottish cabinet has publicly backed Alex Salmond’s deputy, Nicola Sturgeon, to replace him as SNP leader and first minister. Ms Sturgeon has yet to formally throw her hat into the ring. But on Friday she said she could think of “no greater privilege” than to seek the leadership. Pundits and bookmakers have tipped her as the clear favourite, although as yet there are no declared challengers.” – BBC

  • Darling “plans to stand down as an MP” – The Sun(£)

>Today: Matthew Elliot on Comment: Ten lessons from the Scottish Referendum for people involved in the EU debate

>Yesterday: Quentin Langley on Comment: How Salmond could have won

Blair: Ground troops needed to defeat Isis

BLAIR Europe“Britain must be prepared to join a wide coalition of countries in deploying ground troops, including special forces, to combat forces from the Islamic State (Isis), the former prime minister Tony Blair has said. In a lengthy essay on the threat posed by Isis on the eve of the UN general assembly meeting in New York, Blair warned that air strikes alone would not be enough to combat the jihadis. The intervention by Blair comes as Britain considers whether to join the US and France in launching air strikes against Isis forces in Iraq and possibly in Syria.” – The Guardian

News in brief

  • Balls draws blood in football clash – BBC
  • Labour plan loft insulation requirements for landlords – The Sun(£)
  • Police cuts in the Thames Valley – Daily Telegraph