PLANS to strengthen the powers of the Scottish Parliament and set out the future of the union if Scots reject independence in the 2014 referendum have been launched.
The Devo-plus organisation’s blueprint for change includes a “Statement of the New Union” and would see Holyrood raise the majority of its own spending.
A report launched in Edinburgh yesterday by the group, which is led by former Liberal Democrat MSP Jeremy Purvis, insists its plans could be implemented by 2020.
Leading MSPs from three main pro-union parties at Holyrood – Labour, the Tories and Liberal Democrats – were present for yesterday’s launch, although it remains unclear if the parties will all sign up to the proposals.
The report sets out what a “long-term settlement” for Scotland within the UK will mean, but Nationalists insist that only independence will give Scotland power to build on Parliament’s achievements.
Mr Purvis said yesterday: “We believe that it is necessary that the public can understand what the consequence of the vote will be.
“We believe the case has to be supplied by those that favour independence, and we take them at their word when the SNP say they will publish their proposals for what they mean by independence.
“Equally, the public should have a clear understanding, if they vote No in the referendum, what that means.”
His proposal calls for cross-party agreement on the blueprint, which would be reflected in party manifestos.
Devo-plus would give Holyrood and Westminster “accountability” for raising what they spend in Scotland.
Taxes transferred to Holyrood would include income tax and corporation tax.
The launch was supported by Labour MSP Duncan McNeil, Lib Dem MSP Tavish Scott and Conservative MSP Alex Fergusson. Mr McNeil said: “All the polls I see show that the middle ground is about making progress and modernising and updating our devolution settlement.
“Any political party that would say that simply winning a referendum is an end in itself, without seeking out that middle ground, or speaking to it and giving voice to it, would be pretty foolish.”
Former Lib Dem leader Mr Scott said “I would strongly argue that as part of creating a strong, positive and progressive movement for change in Scotland right now, in terms of how our parliament develops it is at the heart of what Devo-plus is.”