George Osborne defends plan to restrict Scottish MPs voting rights in Commons

GEORGE Osborne has said that Conservative plans to ban Scottish MPs from voting on income tax rates south of the border are “right and fair”, as the Chancellor made a campaign visit to Aberdeenshire today.

Picture: TSPL
Picture: TSPL

The Chancellor insisted the controversial change, a consequence of plans to hand greater control over income tax to Scotland, would not damage the union but would instead create a “stronger Scotland within a stronger UK”.

The Conservative election manifesto, published yesterday, was attacked by Labour as a “brutal betrayal” of the cross-party Smith Commission proposals, which include transferring powers over income tax north of the border to the Scottish Parliament.

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In their manifesto, the Conservatives pledged to “extend the principle of English consent to financial matters such as how spending is distributed within England and to taxation - including an English rate of income tax - when the equivalent decisions have been devolved to Scotland”.

However, Mr Osborne, campaigning in the West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine constituency, defended the planned shake-up.

He said: “If you have a Scottish rate of income tax, a consequence of that is you have an English rate of income tax and I think it’s only right and fair that English MPs would then have a decisive say over that.

“Of course the whole budget would be voted on by all the UK MPs, including Scottish MPs, and I think that’s a fair arrangement. I think people in Scotland would see it as fair, I also think people in England, Wales and Northern Ireland would see it as fair.

“I think it’s about making our union stronger, a stronger United Kingdom, a stronger Scotland within a stronger UK.”

Mr Osborne said the proposals to give Holyrood new powers after last year’s independence vote included “a brand new Scottish rate of income tax, which I’m very much in favour of”.