SNP to draw up Scottish policy on reserved matters
ALEX Salmond and his ministers are to draw up official Scottish Government foreign policy independently from the rest of Britain, Scotland on Sunday can reveal.
The First Minister has decreed that he and other SNP ministers are to declare Scottish Government positions on everything from the future of Nato to the conflict in Iraq, if asked by members of the public.
The move marks a huge change from previous Labour-led administrations who passed all such "reserved" matters over to the UK Government.
However, the SNP said that people are "entitled" to know the views of the SNP Government on such issues, claiming it represents Scots better on such matters than the UK Government.
But the move has now prompted a backlash from the UK Government, which pointed out that the SNP was not elected on an international affairs ticket last year, and therefore cannot claim to represent a Scottish Government position.
The major shift in policy is disclosed in an internal memo, leaked to Scotland on Sunday, which changes the way ministers deal with public correspondence.
Anyone writing to the Edinburgh administration asking for ministers' views on such "reserved" matters as foreign affairs will now get an official reply, representing the views of the Scottish Government.
On issues where the SNP disagrees with the UK Government on reserved matters, the memo states that ministers will henceforth issue an official Scottish Government verdict to any correspondence.
A senior Scottish Government source said the main effect of the changes would be to allow ministers to offer a Scottish Government view on international maters.
The source said: "This is new guidance for ministerial offices in responding to correspondence on reserved issues. Clearly, on a number of subjects reserved to Westminster – including international affairs and Trident nuclear weapons – the Scottish Government has a different position from the UK administration, and one more in tune with the majority of people in Scotland."
UK ministers said there was nothing wrong with SNP ministers offering personal views on "reserved matters" when asked by members of the public, but they warned that to issue an official Scottish Government policy statement broke the devolution settlement.
Scotland Office Minister David Cairns said: "Alex Salmond fundamentally has no respect for devolution. The devolution divide has been backed by the people of Scotland, who have voted for it. That means that the people of Scotland want Westminster to do some things and the Scottish Government to do other things. We respect that, but he has contempt for it."
A Whitehall source said: "I don't know on what basis they can produce a Scottish Government view on these areas."
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Wednesday 19 June 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 18 C
Wind Speed: 16 mph
Wind direction: West
Temperature: 12 C to 20 C
Wind Speed: 8 mph
Wind direction: East