The leader of the Scottish National Party Nicola Sturgeon has said her MPs will vote on English health matters to protect funding for Scotland’s NHS.
The separatist party, which has six MPs in the House of Commons, traditionally has a policy of not voting on English-only matters.
However, in an interview with the BBC, Ms Sturgeon said that the practise of staying away from votes which have no direct link with Scottish legislation could be put aside when it came to the health service.
She warned that if there were moves to “further privatise” the NHS in England, those MPs would step in and vote to stop it accordingly.
The discussion comes the day before a bill is published on further tax and spend powers for Scotland.
“On health, for example, we are signalling that we would be prepared to vote on matters of English health because that has a direct impact potential on Scotland’s budget,” she said.
“So, if there was a vote in the House of Commons to repeal the privatisation of the health service that has been seen in England, we would vote for that because that would help to protect Scotland’s budget.”
Her words will add fuel to the fire of the heated debate about ‘English votes for English laws’ which saw an increase in support following the Scottish Independence Referendum.
Following the rejection of the SNP’s proposal by Scottish voters, UKIP leader Nigel Farage took to the airwaves to say that it was time that English-Only voting days were discussed; something which has been in the party’s manifesto for many years.
This idea is also backed by Tories, who believe English laws should not be influenced by Scottish or Welsh MPs when they have their own devolved parliaments which England has no say over.
Labour, however, reject the idea because so many of their MPs come from Scotland and it would be a huge knock to their power to propose or stop legislation. The 40 MPs who represent Scottish constituencies currently have significant influence over English only matters.
Following the referendum in September, Prime Minister David Cameron promised to uphold the pledge for further powers for Scotland which was made in the last hectic few days of campaigning when a yes vote looked a distinct possibility.
The Smith Commission, appointed by Mr Cameron, made a series of recommendations at the end of November with the draft Scotland Bill set to be published tomorrow (Thursday).
Ms Sturgeon said she would be “watching closely” to make sure that the proposals by the Commission, which many think was a key deciding element for voters to remain part of the UK, was “delivered in full”.