THE row over the Conservatives' plans to limit the voting rights of Scottish MPs at Westminster has intensified after Chancellor George Osborne insisted it was "fair and right".

The Chancellor defended his party's manifesto pledge to bar Scots MPs from voting on income tax rates in the rest of the UK during a campaign visit to Aberdeenshire.

Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy renewed his attack on the policy, accusing the Tories of

"re-writing the entire tax legislation of the UK" without warning or consultation.

In their manifesto, the Liberal Democrats have proposed an "English only" voting stage for legislation relating solely to England.

However, the party has linked the commitment to securing its long-held goal of proportional voting for Westminster.

The Conservatives pledged to introduce "English Votes for English Laws," barring Scots MPs from voting on matters that affect England only.

The plan sits alongside a promise to devolve further tax and welfare powers agreed through the Smith process, including handing Holyrood control over income tax rates and bands in Scotland.

The Conservative proposals would give a grand committee of English MPs the right to set income tax rates and bands south of the Border, though the whole House of Commons would come together to vote on the Budget, including aspects of reserved elements of income tax such as the personal allowance.

Campaigning in the Tory target seat of West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine, Mr Osborne said: "If you have a Scottish rate of income tax, a consequence of that is you have an English rate of income tax and I think it's only right and fair that English MPs would then have a decisive say over that.

"Of course the whole budget would be voted on by all the UK MPs, including Scottish MPs, and I think that's a fair arrangement.

"I think people in Scotland would see it as fair, I also think people in England, Wales and Northern Ireland would see it as fair."

He dismissed claims the move undermined the Union by creating a tier of "second class" MPs, insisting it would create a "stronger Scotland within a stronger UK".

In a letter in today's Herald, Professor Adam Tomkins, one of the Tories' representatives in the Smith Commission talks, insisted the policy was consistent with the devolution agreement.

Campaigning at a Glasgow cafe which supports homeless people, Mr Murphy said: "George Osborne is all over the place.

"He signed up to the Smith Agreement, which said explicitly that income tax is a UK tax system, but they have, with their manifesto, ripped up huge tracts of the Smith Agreement and rewritten the entire tax legislation of the United Kingdom.

"Now they are desperately trying to backtrack and justify a colossal mistake.

"They are just plain and downright wrong."

He claimed the move was designed to "chase down Ukip votes" in the south of England.

In their manifesto yesterday, the Liberal Democrats proposed an "England only" voting stage for legislation Mr Osborne's visit to Westhill, Aberdeenshire, fuelled a simmering row between the Tories and Lib Dems over tactical voting to defeat the SNP.

He said the seat, which was held by the Lib Dems before the election, was a two horse race between the Tories and SNP.

Lib Dem candidate Sir Robert Smith dismissed the claim.

"All the Conservatives can do with their campaign is split the No vote, letting the SNP in," he said.

Commenting on his party's chances, Mr Murphy said: "Of course we're still behind in the polls in Scotland but the main parties haven't published their manifestos yet, and when that happens the campaign proper gets under way.

"I am confident we will close the polls.

"I am confident we can win this election, we can win it north and south of the border.

"With a third of people in Scotland still undecided, there is all still to play for."

He said Labour was still focused on winning over former supporters who backed independence, despite campaigning strongly against the SNP's plans for full fiscal autonomy, which has been described as "independence lite".

He said Labour would continue to highlight the impact of full fiscal autonomy, which the IFS think tank has warned would leave a £7.6billion hole in Scotland's public finances.