We won’t let Holyrood harm England, says Cameron
The Prime Minister will use a keynote speech to unveil the “Carlisle principle”, an annual review examining the impact of powers used by the Scottish Parliament on the rest of the UK.
He warned yesterday that the prospect of the SNP holding sway over the governance of the UK in a deal with Labour would be a “frightening prospect” for voters. In an unprecedented attack, he warned Nationalists “wouldn’t care” about people in England and could starve hospitals of funding south of the Border.
Mr Cameron has already agreed to a review of air passenger duty (APD) in Scotland when it is devolved, along with powers over income tax, in the first year of the next parliament, after fears were raised that it could badly affect airports in cities such Newcastle.
This review will now be extended to cover other areas, including reductions in business rates, which have hurt English border regions.
Mr Cameron will warn that Scottish plans for APD would have a “huge impact” on airports in the rest of the country. The Scottish Government has committed to cutting it by 50 per cent, which would save a family of four up to £142 every time they fly.
Mr Cameron will say: “We are reviewing the way Air Passenger Duty works to
make sure other cities don’t lose out.
“Today I want to set out a new principle – you could call it the Carlisle Principle – that we will make sure that there are no unforeseen detrimental consequences to the rest of the country from Scottish devolution, for either England, Wales or Northern Ireland.”
The principle will come into effect when the powers agreed with the Smith Commission are devolved, with all major parties agreeing to put those powers in the first Queen’s Speech after the election.
The Cabinet Office and Treasury will conduct an annual review of the impact of all devolved policies on the rest of the country. In his speech in north-west England, Mr Cameron will say: “It will look at what effect Scottish Government policies are having: whether it’s changes to tax rates, business rates or university tuition fees, or Scotland’s powers over energy, agriculture, transport and public services.
“To be absolutely clear, this is not about a UK government stopping the Scottish Government from using its powers as it sees fit or to do things differently. It is also not about reopening discussion about the Barnett formula – our commitment to retain it as the basis for determining Scotland’s funding from the Treasury is clear and unequivocal.”
But he added: “Decisions made by the Scottish Government can now have a big impact on your job, your income and investment in your area. That’s why we will create the Carlisle Principle, and a mechanism to make sure the rest of the country doesn’t lose out from Scottish devolution.”
The Tory leader issued a stark warning about the prospect of the SNP holding the balance of power after the election.
He said: “This would be the first time in our history that a group of nationalists from one part of our country would be involved in altering the direction of the government of our country.
“I think that is a frightening prospect. For people thinking in their own constituencies, ‘Is that bypass going to be built?’, ‘Will my hospital get the money it needs?’, frankly this is a group of people that wouldn’t care about what happened in the rest of the country.
“The rest of the United Kingdom – England, Wales, Northern Ireland – wouldn’t get a look-in. The SNP is not a party that wants to come to Westminster to contribute to a government – it wants to come to Westminster to break up our country.”
But First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “The SNP in the House of Commons after the election will not be any kind of destructive force. We want to be constructive to get better politics coming out of the Westminster system.”