Push for simultaneous changes to English law prompts vow from Brown that ‘promises will be upheld’.
Labour has launched a ferocious fightback against Tory (Conservative) attempts to link the timetable for Scottish devolution to far-reaching constitutional reform in England, insisting that Westminster must deliver on its promises to the Scottish people.
Responding to suggestions by chief whip Michael Gove that the transfer of more powers to Scotland could not go ahead without accompanying changes south of the border, former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said yesterday that it was inconceivable that the "promise makers" could become "promise breakers".
Brown declared that the three parties had signed a resolution committing them to a swift timetable to devolve more tax and other powers to Scotland. He told an audience in Fife, Scotland: "The eyes of the world have been upon us and now I think the eyes of the world are on the leaders of the major parties of the United Kingdom. These are men who have been promise makers and they will not be promise breakers."
"I will ensure that these promises that have been made will be upheld."
Amid Tory calls for government in Westminster, central London, to drive through changes that would bar Scottish MPs from voting on solely English matters, Gove told the Times that "it would be impossible to move forward without making sure you have change both in Scotland and England".
After the No campaign's victory was announced on Friday, Prime Minister David Cameron said that, as more powers headed north to Scotland, millions of English voices also needed to be heard. The Prime Minister said the question of ensuring English votes for English laws should be addressed "in tandem and at the same pace" as Scottish devolution.
Tomorrow, Cameron is summoning key Tory figures to his country estate, Chequers, to discuss how to press ahead with plans to limit the role of Scottish MPs. Those attending the constitutional summit include former Cabinet minister Peter Lilley, former Attorney General Dominic Grieve, former Welsh Secretary John Redwood and Bernard Jenkin, chair of the public administration select committee.
Jenkin said that it was correct for Cameron to insist that changes to the role that Scottish MPs have in scrutinising English legislation be pegged to the same timetable as further devolution for Scotland. "The credibility of all English parties standing at the next election is dependent on this. That is why the Prime Minister is right to say the two processes should be in tandem," he said.
Jenkin argues that Scottish MPs have been left with "power but no legitimacy" by devolution, and claims that resentment is growing about the iniquity of the system, as well as the commitment to Scots receiving 1600 ($3210) a head more in public spending.
Demanding an "effective English parliament" he says: "The growl in England is now a roar ... if we falter in this now, this unfairness and resentment will fester."