COALITION ministers are willing to risk making controversial plans for "English votes for English laws" – a major issue in next September's independence referendum.

The Tory-LibDem Government hopes to publish proposals to restrict the votes of Scottish MPs before voters go to the polls next year, Downing Street sources said. Ministers are understood to believe that the move is necessary to appease growing anger in England over the so-called "West Lothian Question", whereby Scottish MPs hold potentially casting votes on legislation that does not affect their constituents.

However, they will hold back from offering English MPs a "veto" on laws that apply only in England. Instead, they would be given a "consultative" vote only.

This could be part of a "fourth reading" of a Bill taken after all MPs have voted whether or not to make it law.

Labour MPs have accused the Coalition of wanting to make Scottish politicians "second class" MPs. Senior sources on both sides of the Coalition expressed hope that the proposals would be taken forward and not just included in party manifestoes at the next General Election. One told The Herald there was a "risk of rupture from the south of the Border" and added "we cannot pretend that this problem is not real".

While the proposals could be published before the referendum, implementation may not take place for a few years.

The West Lothian Question was coined by former Labour MP Tam Dalyell, who asked how it could be right that, following devolution, he could vote on education policies that would affect Blackburn, Lancashire and not Blackburn, West Lothian.

But by stopping short of a veto, the Coalition could run the risk of a backlash from English Tory backbenchers, many of whom believe the system is unfair.

The issue became extremely controversial during the last Labour Government, amid accusations a rise in university tuition fees in 2004 was pushed through by Scottish Labour MPs whose constituents would not have to pay the charges.

Last year, in a long-awaited report, the McKay Commission warned the current situation is "unsustainable" and called for change.

But it too stopped short of a veto and recommended MPs receive a consultative vote, with the outcome of how English MPs vote noted by ministers.

A spokesman for the commission said its recommendations were "transparency measures, rather than anything else".

Last night, a spokesman for the LibDems said: "This is a very important issue, which is why the Government asked the McKay Commission to look into it.

"No decision has yet been made on the commission's recommendations. We will give the report very serious consideration before we respond substantively in due course."