Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Moore launches new Scotland Bill on St Andrew's Day.

Scottish Secretary Michael Moore has appropriately enough chosen St Andrew's Day to launch the Government's Bill which will implement the recommendations of the Report of the Calman Commission.

To truly appreciate how big a Liberal Democrat win this is, you have to go back just over a year, to 25th November 2009, when the then Labour Government published it response to Calman.  They could have decided to bring in the legislation then - it would certainly have been a better use of Parliamentary time than trying to get dreadful measures like the Digital Economy Act through, and they certainly had the numbers to support them. I wrote at the time that the failure to legislate was an opportunity missed.

If you look at the full Debate as recorded in Hansard, you'll see that the Tories, who had participated willingly in the Calman process, were trying to wriggle out of it as fast as their wee legs could carry them. David Mundell their then shadow Scottish Secretary said:
Does he acknowledge that his Government's White Paper should not bind any incoming Conservative Government? Conservatives accept that the Scottish Parliament needs to be more financially accountable, that the devolution settlement needs to be tidied up and that Westminster and Holyrood need to start working constructively together for the good of Scotland and Britain, but we will ensure those things through our own White Paper, not this Government's proposals launched in the dying days of this Parliament. 
His Liberal Democrat opposite number Alistair Carmichael said of the Tories' position:
I listened to the hon. Member for Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale (David Mundell) speaking about producing another White Paper the other side of a general election, and I could almost hear the ghost of Sir Alec Douglas-Home speaking prior to the 1979 referendum. He promised that we would get something better from the Conservatives, but they betrayed us after the 1979 election, and they would betray us again tomorrow given half a chance which, fortunately, they are unlikely to get.
At the time the papers were full of the Tories wanting to sit on any further reforms and devolution of power until 2015.

The reason the Tories have not been allowed to betray Scotland again is because the Liberal Democrats made sure that full implementation of Calman made its way into the Coalition Agreement.

The other good thing is that we won't hear from Michael Moore's lips the sort of disgusting rhetoric that we heard from Jim Murphy. I really hate it when people's loyalty to their country is questioned and brought into the political arena:
The problem for the hon. Gentleman and the SNP is that he always behaves like a nationalist and never behaves like a patriot. A nationalist puts the SNP first, but a patriot puts Scotland first. That is the difference between my party and his, and why Scotland is increasingly turning its back on the SNP.
That sort of talk is just not on and shows up the person who uses it.

Sure, Calman doesn't deliver the greater measure of fiscal autonomy that we want, but it's a sizable step in the right direction. I'm pleased that it's a Liberal Democrat secretary of state who's introducing measures we would never have seen from the Tories governing alone. 


DougtheDug said...

Sure, Calman doesn't deliver the greater measure of fiscal autonomy that we want, but it's a sizable step in the right direction.

Caron, have you actually read the Calman financial recommendations? If the new bill is anywhere close to them Scotland's sizable step to fiscal autonomy is summed up by one little sentence.

The unused Scottish Variable Rate limit has been raised from 3p to 10p and it's now across all tax bands.

Calman will tie Scotland's funding to the economic performance of the Wesminster Government and it will always default back to the Barnett Forumla funding level at each review of the block grant element of Scotland's funding. Even if the Scottish Government could alter Scotland's economy significantly upwards then at each review of the block grant element of the funding the increased tax take would be cut out of the new block grant and if the economy went down then the block grant element would go up to take that loss into account.

It's a recipe for Scottish Governments to do nothing.

Please, Calman and Financial Autonomy in one sentence is hilarious.

cynicalHighlander said...

After M.Moore economically told only half the story over SVR which was mothballed by the Lab/Lib admin in 2000 one can only say "He speaks with forked tongue".

Calman is a stitch up to hold back Scotland as that was its remit.


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