Magazine article Public Finance

Westminster 'Holding Back Devolution'

Magazine article Public Finance

Westminster 'Holding Back Devolution'

Article excerpt

The UK government has been accused of trying to stop the process of Scottish selfgovernment after refusing to make any commitment to increase the powers of the Holyrood Parliament

In a 126-page submission this week to the Caiman commission on devolution, Whitehall departments stressed that the current structure had been a 'success by any measure' and made no proposals for change.

The government also suggested there might be a case for ending the ability of MSPs to control the building of nuclear power stations.

However, ministers remain open to any proposals, in accordance with devolution principles, to adjust the Scotland Act settlement further to 'strengthen devolution', the submission said. The Scotland Offices contribution said: 'The devolved funding arrangements provide the Scottish Parliament with not only a rising budget but also continuity and a stable, transparent and predictable way of funding public services in Scotland.

"The government is keen to consider with the commission, in accordance with its terms of reference, how the financial accountability of the Parliament might be improved.'

The commission, chaired by Sir Kenneth Caiman, was set up with the support of Labour, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats. The submission said that while devolution was working well, there were areas of policy, such as planning powers, where the inevitable overlap between devolved and reserved matters 'has the potential to cause difficulty'. …

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