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Scottish independence: Unionist parties will beat SNP with devo message, says Tory

David Mundell says pro-Union parties ahead of Government. Picture: PA

David Mundell says pro-Union parties ahead of Government. Picture: PA

  • by DAVID MADDOX
 

THE pro-UK parties will all have put forward a vision of more powers for the Scottish Parliament before the Scottish Government produces its white paper on independence in the autumn this year, Tory Scotland Office minister David Mundell has claimed.

Mr Mundell’s comment came as the Institute of Public Policy for the Regions (IPPR) put forward proposals for extending devolution, calling for more tax powers which would allow MSPs to raise another £22 billion for Scottish priorities.

The think-tank’s report, produced by the academic Alan Trench, is being considered by the Scottish Labour Party’s commission on more powers and could prove to be the basis of the party’s policy.

Mr Trench, an expert on devolution, said the original devolution settlement is “clearly no longer sustainable”, limiting the accountability of MSPs, and tying Scotland’s public services to the same deal as those in England.

He argues that to correct that problem, about 60 per cent of the money that Scottish ministers spend on schools, hospitals and transport should come directly from Scottish tax revenue – around £22bn.

Mr Trench said: “Devolution is about making the UK work better as a whole. It’s clear that fiscal devolution needs to go a lot further than the Scotland Act 2012 does if it is to meet the aspirations of the people of Scotland, or put the Scottish Government in a position to make its own policy choices.

“This model is intended to do that, in a way that is workable in practical terms and that minimises the adverse effects on other parts of the United Kingdom.”

A Labour Party spokesman said: “We look forward to the proposals from the IPPR and we hope to meet with them in the coming weeks.”

The Lib Dems have already outlined their vision for devolution with the report produced by its commission headed by former party leader, Sir Menzies Campbell.

Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson is also looking at how her party sees devolution progressing with an internal review in her party.

Mr Mundell, who has recently helped get the Section 30 order to allow Holyrood to hold an independence referendum through Westminster, said: “By the time the Scottish Government has published its white paper on independence, I am confident that all three Unionist parties will have published their proposals on more powers for Holyrood.”

The SNP argues that devolution was only the beginning of a process towards independence which, it believes, should be completed next year with a yes vote for independence in the referendum.

SNP Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “An independent Scotland is the positive way forward to build a strong economy and fair society. A no vote would be a vote for years more Westminster austerity and unfair benefit cuts for families and vulnerable people.”

 

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