The announcement by the Smith Commission that Scotland should in future decide her own Income Tax is an important moment in the evolution of the United Kingdom.
The new West Lothian or Wokingham question must be who imposes Income tax on the English?
Instead of the Scottish referendum settling our united country for another generation, the generous offer of the Conservatives and Lib Dems of full Income tax powers, and the offer of substantial Income Tax powers by Labour means we are moving to new kind of looser federation. Time will tell whether this latest settlement is then stable as some of us hope, or whether it will embolden Scottish voters to ask for more once this round of devolution has been digested.
What should be clear to all politicians is the grant of these major powers to Scotland will require the grant of powers to England too. (I leave out Wales and Northern Ireland for simplicity, but the same principles should apply to them. Devolved issues to them will be settled in their parts of the UK. Anything not devolved to them will still be settled by the Union Parliament with all MPs voting on it who do not come from a part of the country where that matter is devolved. Some votes will be English, some will be English,Welsh and Irish, and some will be UK wide)
The new West Lothian or Wokingham question is simple. “Why should Scottish MPs come to Westminster to impose a higher rate of Income Tax on England than the Scottish Parliament is imposing on Scotland?”
You cannot answer this question by fobbing off England with limited devolution to some English cities or regions. England (maybe with Wales and Northern Ireland) will want a single Income Tax rate which we need to settle for ourselves. That requires English votes for English issues in the Westminster Parliament as the first step on the road to justice for England within a new looser federation.