Leaders slammed by committee chair

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Published: Thursday 16th October 2014 by The News Editor

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David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg have been criticised by a senior MP after they all turned down an invitation to appear before a Commons committee to set out their vision for further devolution in the wake of the Scottish independence referendum.

The Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat leaders all vowed Holyrood would get significant new powers in the run-up to last month’s ballot, in which Scots opted to stay in the UK.

But Labour’s Graham Allen, the chair of the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee, said he was “frankly disappointed” none of the three leaders had accepted an invitation to discuss the issue with them.

The committee will travel to Edinburgh tomorrow to take evidence on the issue from Scottish Labour’s chief whip Lewis Macdonald and academics from the Scottish Centre on Constitutional Change.

Mr Allen recalled: “In the weeks and days before the Scottish referendum, the Westminster party leaders engaged directly with the people of Scotland and made significant promises to them about the future of devolution in the UK.”

For that reason he said he had felt it “important to invite each of the party leaders to explain to us, as soon as the House returned, their visions for the future of devolution in the UK and the implications and opportunities for devolution to England, Wales and Northern Ireland”.

But the Nottingham North MP said: “While I understand that devolution proposals for Scotland are now under consideration in the all-party Smith Commission, I am frankly disappointed that none of the party leaders at Westminster have been able to accept the invitation to discuss with my committee the implications of the public commitments they have made.”

Mr Allen said he would make a fresh invitation to the three leaders after the Smith Commission publishes its proposals.

He added: “The committee will be in Edinburgh on Thursday to take evidence on the future of the UK devolution settlement after the referendum. On this visit, and in subsequent evidence, we want to hear from the political parties in all parts of the UK about how they see UK-wide devolution developing and what sort of settlement is best for our constitutional future.”

Published: Thursday 16th October 2014 by The News Editor

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