PRIME Minister David Cameron signalled a constitutional referendum for the United Kingdom today as he promised to deliver on his pledge to give Scotland more powers in the wake of voters rejecting independence.
In a statement in Downing Street, Mr Cameron urged the UK to come together “for a brighter future” and announced that Lord Smith of Kelvin, who oversaw the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, will head a new commission which will work out the next stage of devolution to Holyrood.
Insiders said that this was likely to include control of all income tax north of the Border and welfare policy.
But Mr Cameron went much further insisting that reform needed to be for the whole of the UK and “fair” to Wales, England and Northern Ireland too.
He said that the commission will consider devolution for English cities and regions and also end the West Lothian question where Scots and Welsh MPs can vote on English only matters in areas like health and education.
The Prime Minister called for all parties to work together to come up with a solution in keeping with the timetable he set out with Labour leader Ed Miliband and Lib Dem Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.
Speaking to the international media outside Downing street, Mr Cameron said that the referendum had been “decided for a generation, or possibly , as Alex Salmond put it, a life time.”
He went on: “The people of Scotland have spoken and it is a clear result.
“They have kept our country of four nations together and like millions of other people I am delighted.
“As I said during the campaign it would have broken my heart to see our United Kingdom come to an end.
“And I know that sentiment was shared by people not just across our country but around the world because of what we have achieved together in the past and what we can do together in the future.”
“But signalling changes for the future he called on the United Kingdom to come together and to move forward.
He said “we hear” the concerns of those who voted Yes for independence.
But he said: “A vital part of that will be a balanced settlement, fair to people in Scotland and importantly to everyone in England, Wales and Northern Ireland as well.”
“The debate has been settled for a generation ... there can be no disputes, no re-runs, we have heard the settled will of the Scottish people,” Cameron told reporters in front of his
Downing Street office in central London.
“Just as Scotland will vote separately in the Scottish Parliament on their issues of tax, spending and welfare, so too England, as well as Wales and Northern Ireland should be able to vote on these issues.
“And all this must take place, in tandem with and at the same pace as the settlement for Scotland.”
Cameron, the leader of the Conservative party, has promised to grant Scotland, which already has its own parliament, powers over tax and spending. The leaders of Britain’s two other main political parties have made the same pledge.
The result was also welcomed by Mr Clegg, who was due to visit Scotland today and will hold his party conference in Glasgow next month.
Mr Clegg said: “I’m absolutely delighted the Scottish people have taken this momentous decision to safeguard our family of nations for future generations.
“In a dangerous and uncertain world I have no doubt we are stronger, safer, and more prosperous together than we ever could be apart.”
He went on: “But a vote against independence was clearly not a vote against change and we must now deliver on time and in full the radical package of newly devolved powers to Scotland.
“At the same time, this referendum north of the border has led to a demand for constitutional reform across the United Kingdom as people south of the border also want more control and freedom in their own hands rather than power being hoarded in Westminster.
“So this referendum marks not only a new chapter for Scotland within the UK but also a new chapter of constitutional renewal across the UK.”