Clegg Vows To Devolve More Powers

8 October 2014, 06:43 | Updated: 8 October 2014, 06:44

Nick Clegg has pledged to "keep hammering away'' for further constitutional changes to reform the "tawdry'' Westminster system and devolve more powers to the UK's nations, regions and cities.

The Deputy Prime Minister promised that he will not allow the vow on further devolution to Scotland, which he signed with David Cameron and Ed Miliband before last month's referendum, to be "hijacked or diluted or delayed''.

And he said that Liberal Democrats will continue to push for "real, meaningful political reform'' across the whole country following the May 2015 general election, despite having failed to secure proportional voting and an overhaul of the House of Lords while in office.

Mr Clegg accused Conservatives of making an "entirely self-serving'' bid to link further Scottish devolution to an "English votes for English laws'' system which would give the Conservatives a virtually permanent majority at Westminster on issues which affect England only.

And he said that Labour was trying to "ignore'' the issue of Scottish MPs being able to vote in Westminster on issues which do not affect their constituents north of the border.

In a message to the two larger parties, he said: "You can both forget it - whatever reforms we do will be fair and right by the British people, and that will be guaranteed by our MPs.''

Liberal Democrats are calling for a grand committee of the House of Commons to scrutinise laws affecting only England or only England and Wales.

Crucially, the Lib Dems say the membership of the committee should reflect the proportion of votes won by each party at the general election. This would give Tories just over a third of seats, rather than their share of MPs in the Commons which would usually result in a Conservative majority.

In his keynote speech on the final day of the Lib Dems' annual conference in Glasgow, Mr Clegg will say: "Within hours of the historic Scotland vote, when we were meant to be cracking on with the plan for further devolution - a plan that this party will not see hijacked, or diluted, or delayed - they were at it again.

"The Tories trying to impose an entirely self-serving system of Tory votes for English laws on the House of Commons, in order to give more say to their MPs. Labour ignoring the problem altogether in order to give more say to their MPs.

"Well you can both forget it - whatever reforms we do will be fair and right by the British people, and that will be guaranteed by our MPs.''

Mr Clegg was due to add: "They still simply cannot grasp that spreading opportunity means putting people in control - in Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales, and in communities up and down England too.

"We've done a lot to release Whitehall's grip: by the time the election is called next year every single part of the UK - every nation, every City, our towns and villages, will all have more power than the day the Coalition was formed - just as we said.

"But I want us to go so much further, supporting strong, prosperous, independent communities - able to drive their own fates.

"And to anyone who thinks that in the next Parliament we should cut our losses and give up on our ambitions for real, meaningful political reform: no way.

"This country deserves better than the tawdry Westminster politics we get from Labour and the Tories - and I am going to keep hammering away at the system every single day, because bit by bit that system will break to let the people in.''