Kenny MacAskill calls for Barnett to be retained

Justice secretary MacAskill addressed the Law Society. Picture: Jane Barlow

Justice secretary MacAskill addressed the Law Society. Picture: Jane Barlow

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KENNY MacAskill has accused unionist parties of tinkering around the edges of a devolution settlement which poses a barrier to his efforts to tackle inequality and cut crime.

The justice secretary said Scotland must get “the high level of devo-max that was offered” in the weeks before voting, including full control over income tax, corporation tax and air passenger duty.

The Barnett formula must continue “until or unless Scotland has control over all of our own resources”, he told a Law Society of Scotland conference on the future of law in Scotland in the wake of its vote to remain in the UK.

“Scotland is currently a region of an unbalanced economy centred on London and we want to make sure that we can develop Scotland’s economy focusing on our strengths,” he said.

Mr MacAskill’s remarks gave an insight into the sort of devolved package that the SNP will argue for when it takes part in the more powers Commission currently being chaired by Lord Smith of Kelvin. He was speaking as the Chancellor George Osborne confirmed that the UK government is to publish its Command Paper setting out ideas on how further tax and spending powers could be devolved to Scotland within the next fortnight.

At the Institute of Directors’ annual convention, the Chancellor indicated that more devolution to city regions could be on the agenda soon.

The Command Paper was a milestones on the road to more devolution set out by former Prime Minister Gordon Brown when he made a dramatic intervention in the run-up to voting. The paper was promised when Mr Brown pledged a timetable for a stronger Holyrood following a No vote.

Today a petition organised by Mr Brown will be taken to street stalls so that it can be signed by No and Yes supporters.

The petition, which has more than 105,000 signatories, urges David Cameron to implement new powers in full, unaltered and on time. Yesterday Lord Smith urged members of the public and civic Scotland to get involved in the debate.

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