Scottish independence: Lib Dems vow more devolution

LIBERAL Democrat plans to give more powers to Scotland if it votes No to independence will be subjected to cross-party approval and a “stress test” by the UK Treasury, Scottish leader Willie Rennie has confirmed.

Willie Rennie MSP. Picture: Jane Barlow
Willie Rennie MSP. Picture: Jane Barlow

The party will release a “pre-manifesto” for the 2015 UK general election today.

With just over two weeks to go to the Scottish independence referendum, the Lib Dems have confirmed that the manifesto will include a commitment to implement the recommendations of the Campbell Commission on “fiscal federalism for Scotland”.

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Scotland would be given powers to raise the majority of the money it spends through control of the taxes on incomes and wealth, plus corporation tax receipts from Scottish businesses.

It states: “Ultimately, we recognise that transferring powers to Scotland has always been a consensual process involving supportive political parties and those from outside politics finding common agreement.

“That means the Secretary of State for Scotland inviting the political parties to a Conference on Scotland where they will discuss areas of agreement and how they can work together and with others; appointing an individual in government to engage with business, the voluntary sector and others to understand their plans for decentralisation and powers; the Treasury stress testing the options and ideas put forward by those who want more powers.”

Mr Rennie said: “Our UK plans include a strong commitment to transfer power away from Westminster. It means a stronger Scotland inside the UK.

“Our manifesto will include a commitment to implement our Campbell Commission’s proposals for fiscal federalism to give the Scottish Parliament control over the majority of the money it spends and real power to use the resources of Scotland to tackle poverty and inequality.

“And swiftly after a No vote the Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael will lead efforts to build momentum and agreement across Scotland on the way ahead. He will hold a Conference on the New Scotland to deliver that powerful objective.

“By saying No Thanks to the nationalists’ independence plans we can unlock the door to further change across the UK. That is change that the majority of people in Scotland want. This demonstrates the real momentum behind calls for a stronger Scotland in the UK.”