Reform problems

In his review of the development of the welfare state, Allan Massie pays tribute to the contribution of former prime minister Gordon Brown to the independence debate (Perspective, 27 August).

In his book, My Scotland, Our Britain, Mr Brown certainly makes out a strong case for the Union in terms of protecting social services, and particularly pensions, for all. But I can’t agree with Mr Massie that all ten proposals put forward in the book are “eminently sensible”.

Although Mr Brown wants more fiscal powers for the Scottish Parliament, and wants the environment, some areas of social security, transport and job creation to be devolved, he spoils all this with an illogical proposal: to somehow enshrine Scottish devolution permanently in law, and to back this up with an elected House of Lords based on regional senates.

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I can understand his fears that the existing devolution settlement can, at present, be repealed by one line in a Westminster act of parliament. Making that settlement permanent, however, is hardly a realistic proposition in a country which does not have a written constitution.

Equally, it could be argued that House of Lords reform proved infernally difficult even when the governments in which Mr Brown served had three-­figure majorities.

An even more important point to consider is that nearly 70 years of macreoeconomic management by the Treasury has failed to provide the growth rates that could have helped pay for the much higher pensions, the more responsive health service, the improved child and ­disability benefits which I presume both Allan Massie and Gordon Brown crave.

Bob Taylor

Shiel Court