Labour letdown

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There was more than the faint chill of anti-climax as Labour’s Devolution Commission published its final report (your report, 19 March).

It is, of course, welcomed that there is now a recognition that all parties realise that the status quo is not enough and are committed to bringing more powers to the Scottish Parliament, even though it should be highlighted that there is no guarantee that any new powers will be delivered in the event of a No vote in the referendum.

However, the proposals are a huge watering down of what Labour had proposed in its interim report last April. This report is less about powers for Scotland, more about a power struggle within the Labour Party, and it is clear that Westminster Labour has won.

The expectation was that the report would recommend fully devolving income tax, and possibly air passenger duty, first recommended by the Calman Commission way back in 2009. However, these pledges have all been ditched.

And despite briefing heavily that Scotland is to become more responsible for welfare – one of the areas where Westminster is causing the most damage in Scotland – today’s proposals will leave Westminster in control of around 85 per cent of welfare spending north of the Border.

The limited tax powers in the 2012 Scotland Act will see 16 per cent of taxes raised in Scotland devolved by 2016.

Where their interim report proposal would have increased this figure to 29 per cent, these latest watered-down proposals reduce this to only 20 per cent – in other words, Labour is proposing to devolve only 4 per cent more than what Scotland is already getting.

These proposals are no more than minor tinkering and what is required is the radical surgery that can only come through independence, allowing us to realise our full potential as one of the richest nations in the world.

Alex Orr

Leamington Terrace

Edinburgh