David Cameron has launched the Conservatives’ first English manifesto, with a promise of changes to ensure that English MPs have the final say on income tax rates in England.
And the Tory leader made another bid to persuade Ukip supporters to back his party in the general election, with a warning that a Labour government backed by the Scottish National Party would result in “a return to uncontrolled immigration”.
The English manifesto sets out a timetable for the implementation of Conservative plans for English votes for English laws in the House of Commons within a year of the May 7 election and a promise to extend it to financial issues, in reflection of the devolution of tax-raising powers to Scotland.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon accused Mr Cameron of a direct breach of the post-referendum promise of more powers for Scotland.
The Smith Commission, which enshrined the vow of more powers for Scotland made before the referendum, states: “MPs representing constituencies across the whole of the UK will continue to decide the UK’s Budget, including income tax.”
Speaking on a visit to a children’s workshop in Glasgow, Ms Sturgeon said: “What he is announcing is firstly a direct breach of the Smith Commission proposals.
“But I’ve made clear on a number of occasions that if there are matters that are genuinely English only, that have no impact in Scotland, I think there’s a strong case for Scottish MPs not voting on them.
“The problem is there’s a lot of issues characterised as English-only issues that are anything but – matters relating to the English health service for example. Decisions taken on that have a direct impact on Scotland’s budget.”
Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson backed Mr Cameron’s manifesto during a visit to Dumfriesshire.
She said: “I think Nicola has got a bit of cheek on the grounds that SNP MPs have recused themselves for voting on English-only matters for more than 15 years, they have had a self-denying ordinance and not voted on the exact same issues that we are talking about here.”
Meanwhile, former prime minister Gordon Brown was today expected to urge “patriotic Scots” to reject the SNP’s plans for fiscal autonomy.
Mr Brown, who is not standing for re-election as an MP, will tell an audience in Renfrewshire that Labour will hold an economic summit immediately after the general election to boost jobs, expand City Deals, encourage investment, and provide jobs and training for young people.