MORE localism in Scotland can help to thwart the threat of nationalism, Labour said today.
Baroness Royall of Blaisdon, the Opposition leader in the Lords, said the Scottish National Party wanted more centralism and that trend needed to be reversed.
She said many people who voted in favour of Scottish independence were not converts to nationalism but believed no one was “listening to their concerns”.
“It would seem to make perfect sense that Scotland should be looking to devolve internally in the same way as England,” she said in a House of Lords debate on devolution following the referendum.
“Not just to city regions around Glasgow, Dundee and Aberdeen, but to county regions too.
“More powers closer to home, for local authorities to work together, influence change and offer the promise of a better future.
“Not just to those youngsters who voted Yes but also their younger siblings who weren’t yet old enough to vote but might hold similar views.
“Such an approach could also help deal with the false promises of the SNP and their political bedfellows, for whom a centralised - a more centralised - Scotland is everything.”
Lady Royall warned against Conservative proposals for English votes for English laws, which she called a “purely separatist proposal” at Westminster and reiterated her party’s calls for a constitutional convention.
Labour is boycotting a Cabinet committee led by leader of the House of Commons William Hague on English votes and Lady Royall warned against “partisan politics and playing people in different parts of the UK off against each another”.
She told peers: “A convention, driven by the people - indeed, for the people - with views and voices from communities across our country, would mean that change could be part of addressing feelings of powerlessness in the face of globalisation and its impacts.
“The necessary further devolution to Scotland, together with the clear discontent of the British people, means it is imperative that we consider and address the English constitutional anomaly.
“England has been tolerant for a long time and I understand some of the frustrations expressed but ‘English votes for English laws’ is not the answer.
“The Cabinet committee chaired by William Hague, hastily convened and meeting behind closed doors, simply won’t do. People will no longer tolerate a Westminster stitch-up when what our country needs is an open and transparent discussion.”
Government ‘respects greater autonomy in Scotland, Wales and N Ireland’
Lords leader Baroness Stowell of Beeston, opening the debate, told peers: “This Government completely respects and supports the calls for greater autonomy in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
“We cannot ignore England in that equation. England is the most decentralised nation in the United Kingdom.”
She said: “In England it is a matter of fairness. Who decides their laws?
“With further devolution to the nations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland we must ensure that the voice of England is heard as well.
“That means establishing a clear principle that when decisions affect only the people of England they should be made by, or with the consent of, the MPs those people have elected to represent them.”
She “rejected” the idea that the matter could only be dealt with after a convention.
“A convention may well be desirable but it absolutely cannot delay progress on the West Lothian question now,” she said.
She said it could not be “right” for England to be “left out again” and it was a “shame” that Labour had not joined Mr Hague’s committee as opposition parties were taking part in discussions on the future in the other nations of the UK.
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