NICOLA Sturgeon has appealed to Prime Minister David Cameron to break the impasse on more Holyrood powers as it emerged that the deadline originally set for achieving a deal is to be missed.
he First Minister has written to Mr Cameron emphasising her commitment to securing an agreement before May’s Scottish election.
Ahead of Friday’s deadline, Ms Sturgeon indicated negotiators would get more time to thrash out a deal, which would honour the pre-referendum vow for more powers to be transferred to the Scottish Parliament.
At a time when the UK is heading to the polls on the EU, she said Mr Cameron had to demonstrate that UK government commitments made during referendum campaigns could be trusted.
The Scottish and UK governments have been struggling to reach an agreement, with Finance Secretary John Swinney complaining the package offered by the Treasury would see Scotland lose out on at least £3 billion over the next decade.
In her letter, Ms Sturgeon urged Mr Cameron to abide by the “no detriment” principle of the Smith Commission, the cross-party body set up to deliver the more powers package. The “no detriment” principle is the idea that neither the
Scottish nor UK government should suffer financially as a result of decisions taken by the other. The principle has been at the heart of the discussions to come up with a “fiscal framework”, which would determine how much of its block grant Scotland will lose as a result of gaining income tax powers.
Ms Sturgeon believes the Treasury’s position does not take account of the reduced tax-take Scotland would suffer from if its rate of population growth were less than the rest of the UK. She claimed there would be a “systematic reduction” in the Scottish budget.
But she added she “firmly” believed a deal could be done by May if there were a “shared” understanding of “no detriment”.
Ms Sturgeon said the Scottish Government had modified its position to address UK government concerns that Scotland would gain extra cash if income tax was raised south of the Border.
Of Friday’s deadline, she said that it had been set by the Scottish Parliament’s devolution committee, adding that Mr Swinney had contacted its convener, Bruce Crawford, to ask if there could be “flexibilities” on it. Mr Crawford responded by admitting the deadline had slipped.