The government has issued its commands to the Smith Commission today, and what a right riveting read it is too. The “Command Paper” was published to “set out the range of proposals that have been made on further devolution.” So what’s it all about?
In a nutshell it re-iterates the main Unionist parties’ preferred options for further devolution to the Scottish Parliament. Can you remember what went down before the referendum? Each of the main Unionist parties had a wee bit of a get together and , between the champers and caviar, came up with a range of proposals. They then published them:
Scottish Conservatives and Unionist Party: Commission on the Future Governance of Scotland
Scottish Liberal Democrats: Federalism: the best future for Scotland
Scottish Labour Party: Powers for a purpose – Strengthening Accountability and Empowering People
Now, as we all know, the word “Scottish” means nothing in those party names. We know that they take their orders from London. So whatever view is expressed in those papers is the settled view of the Westminster holding party. The commands are therefor issued directly from Westminster. If we think back to composition and remit of the Smith Commission, which was discussed in an earlier post, we can see that it is 60% Unionist – 40% Pro Independence and a consensus has to be reached (in a very short timeframe). Which means that whatever the Unionist parties agree to will be the consensus.
Having had a read of the document that means that Air Passenger Duty will be devolved. Ace, the only increase in tax raising powers will be the ability to vary the rate of tax on air passengers. There are various proposals for the devolution of spending money, but you can’t spend what you haven’t got. But we might be able to borrow a bit from the treasury, if they let us. Of course, the Barnett Formula will be adjusted to reflect the taxes raised in Scotland.
I’m looking forward to the Unionist crow fest tomorrow when the House of Commons will get to shove the referendum result down our throats again. That’ll be just dandy. Oh, don’t forget Gordie Broon’s wee debate on Thursday either. Then we will have to wait until the end of the month for the Smith Commission to report, but I wouldn’t expect anything of substance to come from it. So much for “Devo-Max” Gordie; you’ve been played for a fool and so have the people of Scotland.