It IS very interesting that the Scottish Government’s paper on regulation (your report, 1 March) contains a tacit admission that it won’t be possible to deliver a combined regulatory body for an independent Scotland ahead of the Scottish Government’s independence target date of March 2016, given that it acknowledges that the transition to a combined regulator in Scotland will take longer for some sectors, such as rail and telecommunications, compared with others, such as water regulation, which is already a devolved area.
There is also an acknowledgement that much will depend on close co-operation with the corresponding regulatory bodies in the rest of the UK, as opposed to the previously standard assumption that an independent Scotland will be given whatever it asks for.
In that regard, the more realistic the Scottish Government is about the process for building an economic and competition regulatory framework in Scotland and what’s required, including time scales, costs, resources and expertise, the more likely people are to take these proposals seriously.
I’m not convinced that a “one-stop-shop” regulator will benefit Scottish industry simply because there will be fewer regulators to deal with, or that consumers will benefit from having a regulator with stronger powers – which, incidentally, the paper doesn’t elaborate on.
However, it’s clear that a combined regulatory body will be more cost-effective, as it should cut down on middle management and have significant savings in support functions such as IT and facilities.
However, those savings aren’t likely to be evident in the short term as there will be significant start-up costs for the combined regulatory body.
Partner, banking & finance
Tods Murray Solicitors