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THE PRICE OF OUR FREEDOM; We'll lose 10 MPs after Devolution.

Scotland could lose up to TEN MPs at Westminster as a result of devolution.

The White Paper outlining Labour's vision for a Scottish Parliament will also contain plans to cut the number of members sitting in London.

As many as 10 MPs could go - bringing the number of representatives sitting in Westminster from north of the border to just over 60.

The move will provoke howls of anger from anti- devolution campaigners, who have always said the change would make Scotland's voice weaker in Westminster.

But it is not likely to happen until the election after next, probably in 2007.

The trade-off goes some way to answering the demands of English MPs, who want to know why so many Scottish MPs could have a say in their affairs when they could have little say in ours.

And it suggests that anti-devolution campaigners within the Cabinet have won at least one fight with Scottish Secretary Donald Dewar.

They wanted to see the number of Scottish MPs cut and have got their way, although some wanted far more seats to be culled.

The argument for the reduction is that Scotland actually does not need as many members in Westminster because very few Scottish laws will be passed there if devolution happens.

As a result, the number of MPs from Scottish constituencies can be cut without harming Scots' rights.

Tony Blair knows the move will be unpopular and Labour are now bracing themselves for the backlash.

But party sources say they accept they will have to bite the bullet.

One said: "It is a price we have to pay -almost like a punishment for having a Parliament."

The full details of the White Paper will be unveiled by Donald Dewar this afternoon.
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jul 24, 1997
Words:289
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