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More powers for Holyrood inevitable, says Rennie

Scottish Lib Deb leader Willie Rennie says more powers are inevitable.    Picture: Ian Rutherford

Scottish Lib Deb leader Willie Rennie says more powers are inevitable. Picture: Ian Rutherford

  • by CATRIONA WEBSTER
 

THE leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats has said more powers for Holyrood are “inevitable”, ahead of the publication of the party’s updated plans for further devolution.

Willie Rennie said there had been a “major shift of gravity” towards increasing the powers of the Scottish Parliament and argued that people who vote No in the independence referendum should take comfort from that.

Mr Rennie was speaking before the launch today of an updated report from Sir Menzies Campbell MP on what he described as the “growing consensus” on the issue.

The Campbell II Report will draw together the arguments of other parties and set out a timescale under which constitutional change could be delivered if independence is rejected.

Mr Rennie said: “There has been a major shift of gravity and I think now it is inevitable that we will get more powers.

“People like the Scottish Parliament but what they know is there’s something missing, and what is missing is the ability to raise and set our own taxes so that we not only decide how to cut up the cake but we also determine the size of the cake.”

Labour’s devolution commission is preparing to publish its final report on more powers for Holyrood at the party’s conference this month, while a working group is examining the issue for the Scottish Conservatives.

Mr Rennie said: “I think it’s clear that the change, the shift in the centre of gravity in this debate, now means that we are going to get more powers.”

Meanwhile, a parliamentary committee has said greater transparency is needed if Holyrood is to be able to scrutinise HM Revenue & Customs’ (HMRC) collection of the new Scottish rate of income tax.

The Public Audit Committee has set out what audit information the Scottish Parliament can expect, and what further data is required if Holyrood is to have proper oversight and scrutiny of £4.5 billion worth of income tax collected by HMRC from Scottish taxpayers.

Under the Scotland Act 2012, the basic, higher and additional rates of income tax levied by the UK government would be reduced by 10p in the pound for those defined as Scottish taxpayers.

The parliament would then determine and set one single rate of income tax (SRIT) across all tax bands.

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