Lack of support

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John McTernan’s thesis on further devolution (Perspective, 7 February) was interesting, but there is no indication that either of the two main Westminster parties would support it, as he himself admits.

Furthermore, benefits are so interdependent and impinge on so many areas, such as the health service or employment policy, that splitting them between different governments would be difficult to manage and would be a recipe for continual wrangling over just which benefits should be devolved.

Mr McTernan singles out the state pension as one benefit that must be reserved to Westminster on the grounds that only it can guarantee the necessary funds by raising “taxes on London’s millionaires”.

However, said millionaires are adept at avoiding paying and both the main Westminster parties are reluctant to demand too much of them lest the geese that lay the golden eggs take flight to somewhere with a more benign fiscal climate.

In any case, as the Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont has, rather courageously, pointed out, it may well be that such universal benefits will soon be unaffordable even by the UK. If, as is claimed “localisation is the right route” for benefits, would it not be simpler to devolve them all and increase Scottish Government funds accordingly?

S Beck

Craigleith Drive

Edinburgh

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