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Monday, September 22, 2014, 09:19

British PM makes case for England

By Agence France-Presse in London

British Prime Minister David Cameron insisted on Sunday that further devolution promised to Scotland could not leave England "overridden", as initial relief over the Scottish people's decision to reject independence gave way to squabbling over powers.

Cameron tied greater Scottish autonomy to more English autonomy, saying the "fundamentally unjust" situation whereby Scottish members of Parliament could vote on matters affecting only England could not persist.

English MPs have no such influence over the same issues affecting Scotland - including health and education - because they are already controlled by the Edinburgh Assembly.

Cameron said there was a "basic unfairness at the heart of our democracy" that had to be addressed.

In Thursday's historic referendum in Scotland on the 307-year-old union with England, Scots voted 55 percent to 45 percent to stay in the United Kingdom, rejecting independence.

Jolted by one opinion poll that put the pro-independence campaign ahead just a two weeks before the vote, Cameron, along with other leaders from the two other main British parties, promised a swift package of further powers devolved to the Scottish Parliament if Scots would stick with the UK.

But within hours of the result, Cameron suggested that greater Scottish autonomy must be matched by greater English autonomy, something previously unannounced.

Writing in The Mail on Sunday newspaper, he said the issue could no longer be ignored.

Cameron said that while new powers over tax, spending and welfare were on their way to the devolved Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh, the rest of the UK was asking why they could not have the same.

"Why should Scottish MPs be able to vote on what is taught in English schools, to reduce spending on English hospitals, or even vary English or Welsh income taxes, when under the new settlement, English or Welsh MPs would have no say in such matters in Scotland?" Cameron said.

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