Sturgeon brands further devolution plans ‘inadequate’

Nicola Sturgeon arrives to address the Scottish Council for Development and Industry in Glasgow. Picture: PA
Nicola Sturgeon arrives to address the Scottish Council for Development and Industry in Glasgow. Picture: PA
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SCOTTISH independence: Further proposals for further devolution from unionist parties are “at best inadequate and at worst damaging”, Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said.

Ms Sturgeon has argued that extended devolution is not the best option for Scotland, nor can Scots rely on it to be delivered.

The Deputy First Minister launched an attack on plans for more powers for Holyrood in the event of a No vote as she addressed a gathering of the Scottish Council for Development and Industry (SCDI) at an event in Glasgow.

Her speech came as Labour prepares to publish the findings of its devolution commission, and ahead of the publication of the Liberal Democrats’ follow-up to its home rule report.

Ms Sturgeon said: “The debate is no longer about the principle of taking decisions in Scotland, but simply about the extent of the power to be transferred and that is a positive development.

“Of course, neither Labour nor the Liberals nor the Tories have yet come up with final proposals.

“But, certainly in the case of Labour and the Liberals, we have a clear idea of where they will end up in the shape of the Labour Interim Report on Devolution and the report prepared for the Liberals by Sir Menzies Campbell.

“I would argue that they both fall short of what Scotland needs on the three grounds I have already mentioned - substance, the lack of a common plan, and the absence of any guarantee on delivery.”

Under Labour’s proposals Westminster would continue to control almost three quarters of Scottish tax revenues, Ms Sturgeon said, and two thirds of revenue in the case of the Liberal Democrats’ plan.

Liberal Democrat proposals to end the Barnett formula, which is used to calculate Scotland’s share of the budget, would risk creating a £4 billion hole in Scotland’s finances, Ms Sturgeon said.

“So my point is that the emerging proposals of the No parties are at best inadequate and at worst damaging,” she said.

Labour’s interim report on devolution set out proposals to devolve income tax, but not corporation tax, national insurance, oil and gas revenue or the welfare state.

Meanwhile, the Liberal Democrats also propose handing income tax powers to Holyrood, but the retention of welfare and oil and gas at Westminster.

In her analysis of these proposals, Ms Sturgeon said: “They would not equip us with the powers to boost the number of people working in Scotland through sensible immigration policies or transformative childcare.

“They fail the ‘childcare test’. I mentioned earlier that a transformation in childcare could raise an additional £700 million per year in revenues from enabling more women to work.

“That money would come from, for example, income tax, national insurance contributions, indirect taxes like VAT and corporation tax.

“These limited proposals for fiscal devolution mean that responsibility for the vast majority - around three quarters - of Scottish taxes would remain with Westminster. That hardly adds up to fiscal responsibility.”

With 200 days to go to the referendum, Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael has said it is time for people living in Scotland to turn their attention to how they will vote, urging them to consider the impact of independence on key issues such as welfare, income tax and currency.

Mr Carmichael said: “We cannot afford to gamble with our nation’s future - so that means making an informed choice and to do that we all need to get the facts.

“And nobody should think that this is not a decision that matters for them.

“Crucial decisions - like whether you keep the UK pound in your pocket and who will be a British citizen - rest on this vote.”