Dividing parliament over the axis of EVEL

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One of the first things I did after becoming an MP in May was to meet my re-elected Borders colleague David Mundell.

He seems a decent enough man, but he is now fronting up one of the most unsavoury acts of political hypocrisy I’ve ever seen.

As Scottish Secretary and the only Tory MP left north of the border, he is currently responsible for piloting the Scotland Bill through the Commons.

Put together in the wake of last year’s referendum, this bill is meant to fulfil David Cameron’s promise of a respect agenda and more powers for Holyrood.

Instead, it has turned out to be a farce. Mr Mundell last week rejected Commons amendments brought by the SNP which would have strengthened the bill and given it some credibility.

Yet his government has now revealed it will let unelected members of the House of Lords make changes to it – an outrageous breach of democracy.

The Tories’ actions completely ignore the message that Scotland has just returned no less than 56 SNP MPs to Westminster. Far from respecting the wishes of the Scottish people, they treat us with contempt.

The hypocrisy comes in because Mr Mundell is also determined to push through another constitutional change in the wake of the referendum – English Votes for English Laws (EVEL).

This is a ludicrous scheme which means only English MPs will be able to vote on legislation applying to England. In effect, it creates two classes of Westminster politician and locks Scotland out of important parliamentary decisions which do affect us.

Don’t get me wrong. My SNP colleagues and I have no interest in voting on, say, the future of Felixstowe Docks or ferries to the Isle of Wight. But plenty of decisions taken in England, such as funding of its NHS, do have consequences, financial or otherwise, in Scotland.

In this constituency, we’re right on the border. There are things which might happen in Northumberland which will affect us, either for good or ill – a change in transport or economic policy, for example.

At present, as UK MPs, we have an input into that. But under EVEL, we’ll have to sit helplessly by as decisions are taken.

So rather than tempting us to stay in the Union, Mr Cameron is planning to further lock us out of it.

I don’t accept the argument that Scottish independence would lead to the same outcomes.

At least then we could have a sensible and respectful dialogue between two partner nations. We couldn’t and wouldn’t be treated like this.