DCSIMG

Anti-independence parties pledge more devolution

Johann Lamont, Ruth Davidson and Willie Rennie have guaranteed more powers for the Scottish Parliament after a No vote. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

Johann Lamont, Ruth Davidson and Willie Rennie have guaranteed more powers for the Scottish Parliament after a No vote. Picture: Lisa Ferguson


  • by SCOTT MACNAB
 

SCOTTISH INDEPENDENCE: Scots can be assured “beyond all doubt” that Holyrood will get more powers if they vote No, Prime Minister David Cameron has said after a joint pledge by the pro-Union parties.

Labour, the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats came together yesterday with a “guarantee to deliver” further devolution.

But they were quickly facing claims that it does not go far enough and calls to devise a “united case” before the referendum.

Mr Cameron said: “I welcome the joint statement by the three Scottish party leaders.

“This demonstrates beyond any doubt that the people of Scotland can be assured that the powers of the Scottish Parliament will be enhanced whilst retaining the strength, stability and security of the United Kingdom.”

Labour’s Johann Lamont and her Tory and Liberal Democrat counterparts, Ruth Davidson and Willie Rennie, issued a joint guarantee that if Scots vote to stay in the UK, the next Westminster government will “strengthen further the powers of the Scottish Parliament, in particular in fiscal responsibility and social security”.

When asked if a Labour victory in next year’s UK general election would simply mean its own proposals are introduced, at the expense of the Lib Dem and Tory plans, Ms Lamont appeared to reject this.

“If you’re doing your job properly you consult with, you engage with and you’re open to the ideas of other people. That’s my idea.”

Labour leader Ed Miliband has already pledged a future Labour government will have its plans for fresh devolution in the first Queen’s Speech if it wins next year’s election, saying: “That is a firm promise to the people of Scotland.”

Ms Lamont added: “On the tax powers I think we are very clear there needs to be more fiscal accountability, I think across the parties we agree. For too long a Scottish Parliament has been in place that spends money rather than having to give thought to how money is raised.”

Meanwhile, Ms Davidson said: “We’re all saying we want to improve devolution, to further it on its journey and make sure we can make the parliament and the UK even better than it is.”

And Mr Rennie stated: “Our proposals are the most popular constitutional change on the agenda, it’s more popular than independence, this is what people in Scotland want because they know we can get the best of both worlds.”

However, Blair Jenkins, chief executive of the pro-independence Yes Scotland campaign, last night claimed the pro-UK parties “know they are losing the argument and that is the only reason they are now talking about more powers for Holyrood”.

‘Power lies with the Scottish people’

The joint statement on more devolution from the three leaders says “power lies with the Scottish people and we believe it is for the Scottish people to decide how we are governed”.

It adds: “We believe that the pooling and sharing of resources across the United Kingdom is to Scotland’s benefit in a partnership of four nations in which distinct national identities can flourish and be celebrated.

“We believe that Scotland and the United Kingdom have been strengthened since the advent of devolution.

“We support a strong Scottish Parliament in a strong United Kingdom and we support the further strengthening of the Parliament’s powers.

“The three parties delivered more powers for Holyrood through the Calman Commission which resulted in the Scotland Act 2012.

“We now pledge to strengthen further the powers of the Scottish Parliament, in particular in the areas of fiscal responsibility and social security. We believe that Scotland should have a stronger Scottish Parliament while retaining full representation for Scotland at Westminster. Our common agenda can bring people together from all of Scotland, from civic society and every community.”

The statement goes on: “All three parties guarantee to start delivering more powers for the Scottish Parliament as swiftly as possible in 2015. Our common endeavour will deliver a stronger Scottish Parliament in a stronger United Kingdom.”

UK Labour leader Ed Miliband - who has already pledged to include legislation on more devolution in his first Queen’s speech if he is elected prime minister next year, said: “Johann Lamont is right to highlight the broad support across Scotland to give more powers to Holyrood.

“I am committed to implementing the strong recommendations of Scottish Labour’s devolution commission to make the Scottish Parliament stronger within a strong United Kingdom.

“If elected prime minister, in less than a year’s time my government will include a Scotland Bill in its first Queen’s speech, guaranteeing more powers for the Scottish Parliament. That is a firm promise to the people of Scotland.”

But Mr Jenkins claimed the pro-UK parties “know they are losing the argument and that is the only reason they are now talking about more powers for Holyrood”.

He added: “New figures show that only a third of people in Scotland trust them to deliver - and in any event what is being proposed falls far short of what Scotland needs. What we need are powers over job creation, welfare and defence so that we can build a more prosperous, fairer country which is free of nuclear weapons.

“And there are a number of other factors to bear in mind. First, the people who have put their names to this statement on more powers are based at Holyrood, but it wouldn’t be the Scottish Parliament that makes a decision on any enhanced devolution for Scotland, it would be the Westminster Parliament and how likely is that?

“The lessons of the past demonstrate quite clearly that Westminster cannot be trusted to deliver on the promises they have made on extending Scotland’s democracy. All three main Westminster parties have form on this.

“I believe that as people focus more and more on this debate, they understand that all the decisions about Scotland need to be made here because we are the best people to make them.

“These vague and confusing promises of more powers for Scotland from the No parties are inadequate and unconvincing.”

SNP MSP Stewart Maxwell MSP, a member of Holyrood’s Referendum Bill Committee, said: “The No parties now all agree on one thing - the status quo is not good enough. And with the most recent polls showing a Yes vote within touching distance, it is clear the No camp’s offerings on further powers are nothing more than a panicked attempt to placate people to get their vote. But past experience has shown that promises on powers are quickly forgotten about - the people of Scotland will not be fooled again.

“The problem for the anti-independence parties is that nothing they can offer can trump the full economic, social and other key powers guaranteed by a Yes vote - the offerings from each of the three Westminster parties fall far short of what Scotland needs.”

Prime Minister David Cameron said: “I welcome the joint statement by the three Scottish Party leaders.

“This demonstrates beyond any doubt that the people of Scotland can be assured that the powers of the Scottish Parliament will be enhanced whilst retaining the strength, stability and security of the United Kingdom.”

SEE ALSO

Get the latest referendum news, opinion and analysis from across Scotland and beyond on our new Scottish Independence website

Leaders: Declarations don’t answer basic questions

Peter Jones: Independence promises don’t add up

 

Comments

 
 

Back to the top of the page

 

EDINBURGH
FESTIVALS
2014

#WOWFEST

In partnership with

Complete coverage of the festivals. Guides. Reviews. Listings. Offers

Let's Go!

No Thanks