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Carmichael backs English devolution

Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael has backed the idea of English devolution.

The Scottish MP said that it was an "anomaly" of the constitution that he was able to vote on matters that don't directly affect him.

He said that federalism would be the "logical conclusion" but that it was a decision for the English people to make.

In conversation with John Pienaar on BBC Radio 5 Live he was asked whether it was time to give English MPs sole power over English law.

He said: "English devolution is the unfinished business, in fact it's the unstarted business of the British constitutional reform that we've seen since we set up the Scottish parliament in 1997.

"At that point I take a step back because we had a 20 year debate before we were able to decide properly what we wanted in Scotland.

"We had a campaign for a Scottish assembly, we then had a constitutional convention.

"Coming on now for 17 years after it was first set up in an act of parliament, we've still not finished the process of devolution because there will be more tax raising powers coming to the Scottish parliament and that's a very necessary thing to rebalance the political debate in Scotland because at the moment all we talk about in Scotland is how you spend the money, you never talk about how you raise it."

Mr Carmichael said that as a liberal he is a federalist.

He described himself as a "humble cabinet minister" who doesn't have the " lofty heights" of writing the next manifesto.

He went on: "The logic of the position would be that if the English sort out their constitutional position, and it is for the English to decide how they want to do that - do you want an English parliament, do you want English regional assemblies, that's a debate that you have to have in England for yourselves, then yes I don't particularly want to vote on things that are not directly affecting me.

"That's an anomaly that's created by the constitutional position that we have.

"Federalism is the logical conclusion of all this but that is the decision for people in England to make."

Mr Carmichael was also asked how important voices from the outside are ahead of the referendum on Scottish independence on September 18 after US President Barack Obama and former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton intervened in the debate.

He told the programme: "I think the voices are important. This is a debate that will be conducted in Scotland, it's a decision that will be made quite rightly by the people of Scotland in Scotland but let's not pretend that this will not have an impact on people in the rest of the United Kingdom and other parts of Europe.

"The Spanish are looking very closely at it, the Canadians and the Quebecois are looking very closely at it, other parts of the world as well."


From Belfast Telegraph