Home rule for Scotland?

 

Yesterday the government kept its first promise to Scotland by publishing a Command paper setting out the various political party views on further devolution to Scotland. All 3 main parties tabled proposals before the referendum and have resubmitted them for this document. The Green party and the SNP have also decided they wish now to be part of this debate, and have submitted their own proposals. The SNP of course did not table  devolution proposals before the referendum vote as they preferred simply to leave the union.    No other parties have written in.

The SNP want most powers now to be granted to the Scottish Parliament. The three main parties of the Union propose a wide range of new powers for Scotland. Over the important issue of Scotland’s role in setting and raising taxes, there is some disagreement. The Conservatives propose that  Scotland be given the power to set the rates and bands of personal income tax. The Lib Dems also wish Income tax to be “almost entirely the responsibility of the Scottish Parliament.” Labour  proposes allowing the Scottish Parliament to control three quarters of basic income tax and its rate. Labour would also allow Scotland to increase the higher rates.  Conservatives and Lib Dems are happy to devolve Air passenger duty, but Labour is not. Conservatives and Labour agree about devolving certain welfare benefits like Attendance Allowance and Housing Benefit.

The parties now have to get on with hammering out an agreement about the exact range of additional powers and duties that will pass to the Scottish Parliament. I asked Mr Hague yesterday for a further assurance that he will soon know whether or not the Liberal Democrats will allow a government motion to give us English votes for English issues, or whether we need to find another non government route to put it to the Commons and have a vote. He assured me he had set a deadline of the end of November for agreement  – or lack of it – on resolving the unfairness to England, and confirmed that if there was no agreement Parliament should still be asked to vote on this crucial matter.

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66 Comments

  1. Mark B
    Posted October 14, 2014 at 5:35 am | Permalink

    Good morning.

    I do not want EVEL, I want a referendum, just like the other Home Nations have had, on whether or not we would like our own Parliament.

    I do not ask for more, I ask for the same.

    • Caterpillar
      Posted October 14, 2014 at 9:41 am | Permalink

      Totally agree. A referendum, which could be done on the same day as the GE if not before, giving the English the choice to have an English parliament with a more proportional electoral system as the other 3 nations have, seems a very reasonable request. Why have an EVEL bodge, rather than treat England equally to the other nations?

    • Know-Dice
      Posted October 14, 2014 at 9:53 am | Permalink

      On the other hand…

      I would be happy with EVEL and keep bureaucracy in check… 🙂

    • DaveM
      Posted October 14, 2014 at 11:06 am | Permalink

      Hear hear.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted October 14, 2014 at 11:32 am | Permalink

      Apparently asking for the same is asking for too much.

      The argument boiling down to there being many more UK citizens in England than in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, so they must each have less.

    • Hope
      Posted October 14, 2014 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

      Well said. I want one as well. I want one for the governance and sovereignty of my country against EU rule as well. It is not a lot to ask for really with the amount of tax I pay. I did not vote for any EU commisioner or any other unelected bureaucrat influencing how we live our lives and I no longer want to pay for it because a Europhile like Cameron says so. I do not believe a word he says and I do not trust him. Ditto for Miliband and the other irrelevance.

  2. Lifelogic
    Posted October 14, 2014 at 5:37 am | Permalink

    We will thus get yet more tax complexity and yet more government, more laws, more lawyers, more accountant and tax advisors – the complete opposite of what is needed namely real people doing real and productive jobs.

    Clearly any moves, without even asking the English and rest of the UK, or providing a fair deal for the English/rest of the UK would be an outrage. Indeed the idea that the English have to accept the back of the envelope/last minute panic/vague promises of Gordon Brown, Nick Clegg and David Cameron without any direct say or reciprocation is absurd.

    It should not happen at all without a fair settlement for the English, the Tories must fight to the death on this issue. Cameron has as usual been too slow and too vague, too little & too late so far.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted October 14, 2014 at 11:37 am | Permalink

      But the complexity would be orders of magnitude worse for all the citizens of the present UK, including those resident in England, if the present UK broke up.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted October 14, 2014 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

        Indeed, I do not want the UK to break up either. But the part devolution and the over riding existence of the EU are perhaps the main pressures here.

        Why, long term, would Scotland & Wales want to have both London and Brussels bossing them around.

  3. Richard1
    Posted October 14, 2014 at 6:18 am | Permalink

    Labour seem to be settling on balkanisation of England as their defence against the threat (to Labour) of Justice for England becoming reality. They say England is ‘too big’ to be a single unit! Conservatives really need to play this issue for all its worth, the Labour position is unworkable – will we have our own NHS and income tax rates in the East of England? – has no public support, and is profoundly anti-English.

    What I would like to know though with more devolution to Scotland, is what happens when Scotland implements policies that lead to lower revenues, such as high marginal tax rates? Who will plug the gap to support the premium public spending in Scotland? If its the English taxpayer the proposals must be blocked, until there is a nonrecourse solution.

    • Sir Graphus
      Posted October 14, 2014 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

      Wholeheartedly agree.

  4. bluedog
    Posted October 14, 2014 at 6:20 am | Permalink

    One of the key attributes of any polity is the ability to raise taxes to support the functioning of the executive. Raising taxes requires an enabling bureaucracy and a means of coercion on the part of the taxor; while the taxee grumbles but agrees that taxes are both unavoidable and a necessary evil.

    The Scots have persuaded themselves that paying taxes to the Westminster government is unnecessary and the Union was notionally secured by promises that validated the Scottish world view in the recent vote. Panic promises are no way to run a country. It follows that by quantifying and enacting the Scots’ powers to tax themselves the UK is in effect dissolving itself. The Scots are being allowed to stop financing the functioning of the UK.

    One can make a confident prediction regarding two possibilities. An SNP government in Scotland will never pay a groat of any surplus to the UK, and if the SNP government records a deficit, the first phone call will be to Westminster seeking a favour, meaning a loan on concessional terms.

    If the Scots get everything they want, the English, Northern Irish and Welsh will once again say, me too. There is a desperate need for clarity of thought and purpose in the governance of the UK, currently lacking. Expectations need to be managed on a platform of realism and a common level of devolved attributes needs to be drafted and applied across the four entities of the UK. The dangers inherent in the present round of competitive ad-hoccery cannot be over-stated.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted October 14, 2014 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

      The UK is not dissolving itself if its sovereign Parliament agrees that Kent County Council can set its own county rates of property tax, or even its own county rates of sales tax, or even its own county rates of income tax. That does not lead to Kent County Council having its own armed forces to defend its territory or launch military expeditions abroad, or controlling the entry into and exit from Kent of persons, or establishing its own embassies around the world to further its own foreign policy, or making its own treaties with other sovereign states. Of course some Scottish nationalists get very uppity about this analogy, forgetting that Kent was also once an independent sovereign kingdom – furthermore, long before Scotland came into existence as an independent sovereign kingdom – and not accepting that the present Scottish Parliament is constitutionally on the same level as Kent County Council, both one step below the UK Parliament which is the supreme legal authority for the whole of the UK. That is why elections to the Scottish Parliament are treated as “municipal” elections for the purposes of the EU treaties; and thanks to Major’s Maastricht Treaty this means that all the citizens of other EU member states who are resident in Scotland at the time must be allowed to participate not only as voters but as candidates, “under the same conditions as nationals of that State”; and because Cameron agreed that the same franchise would be used for the independence referendum, that led to the absurd situation whereby people who were not UK citizens could vote on whether the UK should be broken up, but the many Scots living in England could not.

    • Sir Graphus
      Posted October 14, 2014 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

      Wholeheartedly agree.

      Westminster cannot promise Scotland without asking England, Wales and NI whether we’re happy with the deal.

  5. Margaret Brandreth-J
    Posted October 14, 2014 at 6:33 am | Permalink

    I would like to know how, in the light of the new proposals, the SNP would react. The previous understanding that they would like all powers devolved is today not relevant.

    In the commons video you post, the question about an English parliament was mocked by the majority , as though it was a laughing matter. Whilst there is a lighter side to everything ,and thank goodness there can be jokes, important issues should not be mocked out of existence.

  6. Mike Stallard
    Posted October 14, 2014 at 6:39 am | Permalink

    So Scotland will be in control of income tax. National Insurance too?
    What is to stop them simply reducing the whole lot to nothing and then to come begging in their usual very angry and self righteous way for more welfare benefits?

    What happens when there is a defence crisis? Who pays for that?
    No doubt the university fees will remain the same and all the other little niggles deliberately put in to provoke.

    I used to like them. I am not at all sure I do now.

    Reply No, NI remains a Union matter. I assume they will cut the bloc grant to reflect the revenue Scotland is keeping for itself. We have yet to see the figures.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted October 14, 2014 at 9:58 am | Permalink

      The new arrangement does not sound like a very stable one to me. The absurd 12%(?) stamp duty they are introducing in Scotland does not bode well for their economy. Any problems will always be blamed on the English not giving them enough money/grant/freedom etc.

      There will be damaging border issues too for businesses close to or on both sides of the borders having different tax rules/laws/rates.

  7. Narrow Shoulders
    Posted October 14, 2014 at 7:22 am | Permalink

    We hear much about Scotland getting its own tax raising powers and much about its welfare plans. We hear less about the funding settlement.

    How will allocating taxes raised in Scotland affect the funding? Is Scotland protected from fluctuations in taxation income from its revenue raising attempts or is the UK taxpayer on the hook when it all goes pear shaped? I have no issue with Scotland raising tax and paying its own bills but do not expect it to be topped up using funds from the rest of us.

    On EVEL I can not wait to hear the debate and to listen to the justification that Scottish and Welsh MPs should vote on devolved issues. Obfuscation will abound. Red Ed needs to protect his potential majority in May so his contribution should be most enlightening.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted October 14, 2014 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

      As I have mentioned before, as far as Acts are concerned there are very few in any at all which only apply to England, and you cannot bar the MPs elected in Wales from voting on laws which apply to Wales as well as to England. So it could rarely be EVEL for primary legislation, it would normally have to be EWVEWL.

      • Narrow Shoulders
        Posted October 14, 2014 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

        Or less pithy “MPs whose constituents may be affected voting on issues that may affect their constituents”.

        A concept with which I have no issue.

      • David Price
        Posted October 14, 2014 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

        Have you counted up the number of bills passed by the Scottish Parliament ? 200 to-date according to http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/parliamentarybusiness/Bills.aspx which I suspect would be a more indicative number for English Parliamentary business.

        Besides, having just one bill that affects only England voted on by other country’s MPs is one too many.

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted October 15, 2014 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

          Yes, I had a look at that recently, here:

          http://www.legislation.gov.uk/asp

          223 Acts of the Scottish Parliament so far, average about 15 a year for the past 15 years; during which period the UK Parliament has passed 560 Acts.

          However there is the same problem here as with attempts to assess what proportion of our new laws are coming from the EU; one can just count up legislative measures but they do not all have the same significance; and there is no reason to suppose even that there is a one-to-one correspondence between the number of Acts passed by the Scottish and the additional number of Acts which would have been passed by the UK Parliament if there had been no Scottish Parliament; and besides the primary legislation of Acts there is also the secondary legislation, with 6331 Scottish Statutory Instruments having been passed by the Scottish Parliament, some based on Acts of the Scottish Parliament but some on Acts of the UK Parliament with/without amendment, while during the same period there have been 32808 UK Statutory Instruments.

          But does any of this really tell us anything useful, for example about the extent to which unwanted laws are being imposed on England through the votes of MPs elected in Scotland, or about the likely reduction in the workload of members of the UK Parliament if there was an English Parliament with the same devolved powers as the Scottish Parliament?

          I don’t think it does; a better indicator may be that during 2012 and 2013 combined the UK Parliament passed 56 Acts, of which just 11 did not apply to Scotland in any way; and presumably if there had already been the same level of devolution to England, Wales and Northern Ireland as there is to Scotland then the UK Parliament would not have passed any of those 11 Acts, which made up 20% of the total number actually passed.

  8. alan jutson
    Posted October 14, 2014 at 7:25 am | Permalink

    Seems like a lot of horse trading is going to happen in the next few weeks !

    I only hope that England is not forgotten in all of this.

    Why not simply have a sensible debate that allows all four Country’s to have similar independent/devolved power for themselves, and agree joint responsibility within a UK structure for what is left.
    This would seem rather more sensible and fair, and a better use of time.

    If Country’s have separate tax raising powers, who would collect such?

    What would be the situation if you lived in Scotland, but worked in England.

    Goodness knows HMRC find it difficult enough now to get it right, with one rate for all !.

  9. stred
    Posted October 14, 2014 at 7:29 am | Permalink

    Labour and the Libdems will do everything they can to avoid giving England separate voting, while diverting resources to Scotland, as ordered by Mr Brown. The BBC is also doing the EU’s work by running a series on R4 interviewing regional English socialists demanding more powers. The thought of my council having any more powers is enough to make me consider emigration. The majority of Scots, who clearly voted against Mr Salmond and his socialist demands, will may not be too pleased that he is to be given powers to raise taxes, and spend more of them.

    • Sir Graphus
      Posted October 14, 2014 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

      Completely agree.

      Worse than Mr Salmond, it is John “Nationalise BP” Swinney who is currently in charge of tax raising in Scotland, hence 12% stamp duty.

  10. Martin
    Posted October 14, 2014 at 7:32 am | Permalink

    The Command Paper was pretty pathetic – it more or less said “we don’t agree on anything”. Add this to your concerns about English votes (or a parliament for England that others have mentioned) and I can see long grass growing.

  11. eeyore
    Posted October 14, 2014 at 7:37 am | Permalink

    Mr Hague has just said that though proposals for England and Scotland are still “in tandem”, as the PM declared, they are also “not tied”. This sort of thing makes us peasants suspicious, Mr Redwood. Isn’t it a contradiction in terms? Mr Cameron’s metaphor is from carriage driving: horses harnessed in tandem (one before the other) but not “tied” together by their harness would make for an alarming ride, especially if the leader galloped ahead and the wheel horse turned back. Is HMG trying to have it both ways? If so, who’s going to be swindled, Scotland or England?

    • Lifelogic
      Posted October 14, 2014 at 9:59 am | Permalink

      Indeed if Treaties are no longer Treaties once ratified how can we trust anything they say in weasel words or very clear ones.

    • James Matthews
      Posted October 14, 2014 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

      Who is going to be swindled? England of course, unless the English really get off their backsides and assert themselves (I live in hope3 bur won’t hold my breath).

    • Anthony S
      Posted October 14, 2014 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

      Isn’t the upshot of the position that the Tories believe that further Scottish devolution and the English question should move in tandem. Lab and Lib may oppose that in which case the Tories are not in a position to deliver it. The Tories’ response is that Lab and Lib will have to answer for this choice at the doorstep come the GE.

  12. Oli
    Posted October 14, 2014 at 7:43 am | Permalink

    “[…] if there was no agreement Parliament should be asked to vote on this important matter.”

    Is that it then. Forgive my cynicism but it’s sounding a bit like the English issue is going to get either largely forgotten about or, more likely, become severely diluted as a parliamentary side-issue. Whilst at the same time, no doubt, the SNP will now be negotiated even stronger devolved powers for Scotland (which i have no beef with – just not at the expense of the rest of us).

    • JoolsB
      Posted October 14, 2014 at 9:19 am | Permalink

      Even if it’s put to parliament, Labour and the Lib Dums, not to mention the Nats, will outnumber the Conservatives on this and if you add into the mix the fact that there appears to be quite a few Conservatives who couldn’t give a stuff about England, justice for England in any form hasn’t got a chance.

      The English issue has already been watered down, it’s called EVEL. An English Parliament with an English First Minister and Secretary of State is the only fair solution, the same as the other nations of this so called union already enjoy, no more, no less.

      Reply Nationalists might well abstain on English votes. It then does not take many cross voters from Lab/Lib to win.

  13. boffin
    Posted October 14, 2014 at 7:58 am | Permalink

    What of debt issuance powers?

    The € experiment, common currency without common debt, does not seem to have produced good results, Is there not grave danger that Parliament is failing to learn from Europe’s mistakes, and is about to repeat them?

    Dr. Redwood’s expert view on this tricky matter would be very welcome.

  14. agricola
    Posted October 14, 2014 at 8:05 am | Permalink

    There was nothing but absolute support from Cameron, Clegg, and Milliband on devolving powers a few hours before the crucial independence vote. I would only suggest ring fencing what the Scottish Parliament can borrow in their pursuit of socialist utopia.
    The aim should be that their ambitions should be funded from a growing GNP within Scotland, rather than from an already grotesquely over borrowed British economy.

    The Cleggs and Millibands plus followers have probably already realised that the more Scotland gets the more the English will want on exclusive votes on English matters. Then watch the Lib/Dem/Lab duck and dive to avoid their eclipse in England.

  15. Andyvan
    Posted October 14, 2014 at 8:06 am | Permalink

    What a comfort. An assurance from William Haig that he has a deadline. Obviously he wouldn’t say how a vote in Parliament would resolve all the thousands of issues involved in Scotland having home rule whilst England doesn’t. Well I’m sure that our MP’s will stand up for us just like they have done in Europe. Look forward to England getting the shaft as usual.

  16. oldtimer
    Posted October 14, 2014 at 8:46 am | Permalink

    This am the BBC Breakfast programme broadcast an item about the origins of the West Lothian question. It included a brief interveiw with the current Labour MP who represents the constituency. He displayed none of the doubts expressed by his predecessor, Tam Dalyell, about himself being able to vote on English only matters. Indeed he thought he could usefully contribute to and decide on such matters. Imagine the outcry if an English MP expressed such an opinion on now devolved Scottish matters. Such is the arrogance and humbug of many Scottish MPs. I, for one, have had enough of it. The sooner they are excluded from debating and voting on such issues the better.

  17. majorfrustrastion
    Posted October 14, 2014 at 8:54 am | Permalink

    If the Scots have tax raising power why not also devolve a notional amount of National Debt for them to service. Seems to me that its going to be tax and spend with the UK picking up any subsequent deficit – rather like the banks- privatise the profits but socialise the debt

  18. Iain Moore
    Posted October 14, 2014 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    Hague shouldn’t be waiting for the Libdems come up with their answer, he and the Conservatives should be out there in the media embarrassing the Libdems for their prevarication.

    The lack of passion, the lack of argument, the lack of outrage from the Conservatives has allowed Labour and the Libdems escape paying a price for their constitutional vandalism that has resulted in a discrimination anti English settlement. 16 years of prevarication is long enough, we shouldn’t be asked to wait another second let alone another month. Labour and the Libdems should be being hounded by the Conservatives, it shouyld be a political bare knuckle fight, instead what we get is Oh Jolly Hockey sticks.

  19. James Matthews
    Posted October 14, 2014 at 9:05 am | Permalink

    English votes on English Laws really is not enough, particularly if the Barnett Formula is to be retained and anything which involves changes in English domestic expenditure is consequently regarded, as now, as one of legitimate concern to the Scots. Retaining Barnett will then mean that almost nothing of any significance is defined as an “English Only” matter.

    However, at least an English dimension is being talked about which is a small step forward.

    Increasingly though, it seems to me that one of the options ought to be to tell the Scots to go whether they want to or not. Probably better in the long run than this never- ending faffing about with the Constitution and sensible administration of our country in what will almost certainly be a vain attempt to accommodate them.

  20. Bert Young
    Posted October 14, 2014 at 9:09 am | Permalink

    The English must not be taken to the cleaners by the foolish promises made to Scotland . Had the “promises” been made with the consent and approval by the electorate it would be a different matter . Putting our foot down at this stage by insisting that the English have the right to decide on what is fair and reasonable to them , is the only way forward . Subsidising the Scots in an unfair manner to the rest of the Union has to be corrected and the Barnett formula system kicked into the long grass . If , as the result , the Scots then want to declare independence , let them do so ; I suspect the majority of Scots would still want to be part of our family .

  21. JoolsB
    Posted October 14, 2014 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    It was disappointing to see so few MPs ‘representing’ English seats who could be bothered to turn up for the debate. Instead the House was dominated by MPs with non English seats deciding the bill WOULD go through without delay, that the Barnett Formula WOULD still continue in it’s present form and that EVEL WOULD NOT be a condition for this bill going through because all parties, (including them, the non-English MPs) would have to come to a ‘consensus’ on EVEL. In other words, the MPs with non-English seats have decided that justice for England should be kicked back into the long grass from whence it came and with the exception of the handful of MPs ‘representing’ English seats who could be bothered to show up, we can only assume that the rest of the MPs ‘representing’ English seats will be quite happy for that to happen.

    What a great day for democracy!!!!!

  22. Ex-expat Colin
    Posted October 14, 2014 at 9:38 am | Permalink

    If the SNP gang in Glasgow and surrounds believe that their taxes will come down…umm, pass me that pipe please.

    Who will be paying their Windmill subsidies? I know really.

    You know…man up and pay your bills.

  23. Peter
    Posted October 14, 2014 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    Another good piece of politics from Cameron.

    Cons offer Scots much, Lab do not because they want a larger/greater tax base.
    1 If Labour don’t back this the result will be more votes for SNP over broken promises in Scotland.
    2 Consequence: Less Lab seats in Scotland.
    3 The more powers Scotland gets the easier the argument for EVEL in England.

  24. JimS
    Posted October 14, 2014 at 10:23 am | Permalink

    It is arguable that in large part the reason that the call for Scottish independence was driven by the feeling that ‘Westminster’ just doesn’t listen to the people.

    So having taken us to the brink of breaking up the union ‘Westminster’ piles in with new proposals, none of which have come from the people.

    Clearly ‘Westminster’ has learned nothing. Let’s hope UKIP cleans out the stable.

  25. Robert Taggart
    Posted October 14, 2014 at 10:44 am | Permalink

    BREAKING NEWS !…
    Liebore has announced it will not take part in ‘Billy Boys’ constitutional committee.
    Sounds good to Moi – from an English point of view !

  26. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted October 14, 2014 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    Sorry, Mr Redwood, but there is no democratic mandate for THE VOW whatsoever. You opine “The Conservatives propose this and the Conservatives propose that.” Which Conservatives? Are you sure it’s the plural that you want? David Cameron did not consult Conservative Party members or Parliamentary colleagues or Cabinet colleagues before signing up to the THE VOW. So you should stick to “David Cameron proposes …………………”

    Many of us are totally fed up with the Prime Minister making policy on the hoof and expecting us all to fall into line. Bring back the Nasty Party!!

    I make this prediction: DevoMore is going to produce a chaotic and poisonous muddle. Just for starters, no-one in England is going to accept substantial tax raising powers going to Scotland while retaining the Barnett formula. It’s one or the other, not both.

    Reply I f you read the vow you will see it restates the current position on the NHS and Barnett which is the view of all 3 parties, as stated in their manifestos and policy statements in recent years.

    • Terry
      Posted October 16, 2014 at 11:24 am | Permalink

      “The Vow” looks like it was cobbled together on a postcard and it means very little. It is ambiguous which is probably deliberate, so they can all duck it, if necessary.

      One important point is that it makes reference to the “Referendum” and all three signed it. As the actual referendum is not detailed, one can hope that this applies to the EU Referendum. One also lives in hope that there will be no objections to that. But why do we have to wait until 2017?

  27. APL
    Posted October 14, 2014 at 11:36 am | Permalink

    “Conservatives and Lib Dems are happy to devolve Air passenger duty,”

    Then abolish it in England and Wales

  28. Atlas
    Posted October 14, 2014 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

    To be brief John,

    “Home Rule for the English” – and not to be delayed either.

  29. Denis Cooper
    Posted October 14, 2014 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

    I imagine the UK government is well aware of SNP mutterings that if they win a majority at the Scottish Parliament elections in May 2016 then they may not bother with another referendum, instead they would just insist on starting negotiations on independence or maybe even just declare independence. Skip the illegal referendum and go straight to the illegal unilateral declaration of independence, an open act of rebellion which would of course immediately precipitate a massive constitutional crisis.

    Before they could take their posts all of the rebels in the Scottish Parliament and government would have been required to take the same Oath of Allegiance that Douglas Carswell took yesterday; however afterwards they would just say that they were still being faithful and bearing true allegiance to the Queen, but as their much loved Queen of Scots rather than as the Queen of the United Kingdom.

    So what would the UK government do then?

    Get the Queen to shut down the Scottish Parliament and government? There seems to be no provision in the present UK law allowing that, so presumably the UK Parliament would need to pass a new Act, but in any case it would doubtless lead to violence.

    Or send the police to arrest the rebels and charge them with treason? Once again, that would doubtless lead to street protests and violence even if the police force remained loyal and were prepared to attempt the arrests; would they try the army next?

    The UK authorities have less than nineteen months to sort this out.

    Reply Scotland has just voted to stay in so this is all irrelevant for the moment. Should in future the Scottish people make clear by their votes and voices that they have changed their minds and want to leave then of course in a democracy we will find a peaceful way to proceed to allow their exit if that is truly their settled wish. We do not wish to live in a UK where force is used to keep people in the country who want to live in another country.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted October 15, 2014 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

      Well, what course of action would you recommend if in May 2016 the SNP won a majority in the Scottish Parliament on a manifesto promise that they would insist on Scotland immediately breaking away from the UK, with or without another independence referendum sanctioned by the UK Parliament, and whether or not that secession was legal under UK law? Bear in mind that in 2011 the SNP got their present majority on the votes of only 22% of the registered electors, but if something similar happened again in 2016 they would still claim that they had a democratic mandate to put their manifesto pledge into operation; and also bear in mind that if the UK government supinely agreed with them and allowed it to happen or facilitated it then that would be a gross dereliction of its duty towards all of the UK citizens in Scotland who had not voted for the SNP and its policy of immediate separation of Scotland from the rest of the UK. I can only repeat that the UK authorities have less than nineteen months to sort this out.

      • Lindsay McDougall
        Posted October 16, 2014 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

        It’s easy enough, Denis. Recognise that the destruction of one nation and the creation of others is not to be done lightly. We should set the bar higher, much higher. Scotland shall have its independence if the SNP wins a majority of MPs in both Holyrood and Westminster in 5 successive elections. No more referendums; the UK Prime Minister is not obliged to submit legislation authorising one.

  30. Terry
    Posted October 14, 2014 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

    Just how would the Scots Assembly controlling their own Income Tax, work in practice?

    Theoretically, they could extend their tax exempt allowances to say, £20,000 and create a new 60% tax band. That would look after their client base for ever but scare away the more wealthy. Inevitably there would be a shortfall in tax receipts, so they would have to borrow more and more, to cover their expanding socialist programme, all with England as its Guarantor.
    In a worst case scenario, the SNP could become a “Nick Gleeson” and Scotland the equivalent of his Barings Bank. England would then have to bail them out only by borrowing more themselves and we could then become Barings Bank MkII. Scary.

    If the BoE is to remain their lender of last resort then OUR Government must hold control over their finances. To do otherwise will be disastrous for US.

    • Lindsay McDougall
      Posted October 16, 2014 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

      Just wait until someone who works in both Scotland and England gets two income tax demands; then the sparks will fly.

      On the other hand, such a person may be allowed to declare some of his income in England and some in Scotland – just think; if you earn £12,500 in England and £12,500 in Scotland, you will soon pay no income tax at all. (words left out ed)

      I anticipate a bonanza for wide boys, financial advisers, lawyers and bureaucrats, a very worried Chancellor of the Exchequer – and ordinary taxpayers picking up the tab as usual.

  31. Richard
    Posted October 14, 2014 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

    What about home rule for England ?

    I thank you again for your efforts to bat for England on this important matter.

    I cannot see how any of the proposals for financial devolution are going to work fairly and successfully.

    What will be the consequences of Scotland setting its own rates of taxation?

    Will they be able to lower their rates or only be allowed to increase them to provide additional funds for any increased spending plans ?

    What happens if Scotland runs out of money ? Will they be able to borrow as much as they want with England guaranteeing the debt and paying most of the interest?

    If Scotland is allowed to reduce its rates of taxation would this not lead to another tax competitor to England and enable large corporations and wealthy individuals to reduce their tax bill ?

    Alex Salmond’s plan may be to turn Scotland into another Luxembourg/Monaco/Channel Islands tax haven.

    Etc. etc..

    With insufficient financial controls we could end up in as much a mess as the Eurozone.

    Perhaps a separation will be the simplest and fairest solution for both Scotland and England in the long-run. It may be quicker to sort out than trying to find an acceptable and long-lasting devo-max solution to our differences.

  32. Anthony S
    Posted October 14, 2014 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

    I’m for an English parliament as well. EVEL does not address the question of who governs in England. Under EVEL, the Queen would invite the leader of the largest party in the UK in the commons to form the government as she always does. If that party is not the largest party in England, they will still form the government and control all the executive powers in England but not Scotland, though their legislative power would be curtailed.

    At least that is my understanding.

    The cleanest way to solve issue this is an English parliament. I would imagine the costs of such an institution would be in the order of tens of millions of pounds. In the context of a government that spends hundreds of billions of pounds, I don’t see that this should be a big factor.

    • ChrisS
      Posted October 15, 2014 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

      If EVEL is not acceptable to Labour, I’m coming to the conclusion that the only way to really answer most of the critics is for there to be either full, exact and equal devolution to all four nations or none whatsoever.

      As we can’t put Labour’s genie back in the bottle, it will have to be the former.
      The only remaining UK matters would then be Foreign Affairs and Defense.

      With members of the four national assemblies handling constituency work, there would not be enough work for a UK MP to be employed full time.

      As English MPs continue to be able to handle all the work without too much of a problem, the simple answer would be for each Nation to send a proportion of their assembly members to London for at most a couple of days a week to represent their Nation in dealing with UK business.

      If the members of the English Parliament use Westminster as their chamber, the costs would be, at worst, cost neutral. The extra admin costs could well be covered by the savings from doing away with separate Scottish and Welsh MPs

      There would be a First Minister for each Nation and when members from the four Nations meet at Westminster they would elect a Prime Minister from amongst their number. In most cases this would mean the English First Minister would be Prime Minister. This would not be unfair because it’s pretty well what happens already, these days.

      Labour would not be disadvantaged because Tony Blair, for example, would have been English First Minister and UK PM for all of his period in office. All Miliband would need to do would be to develop domestic policies that would be as attractive to English voters as Blair’s. That’s democracy.

      The difference would be that the Prme Minister would then be required to have a UK cabinet made up of representatives from all four nations in proportion to their population even if that meant members from other parties.

      It’s not perfect, but I can’t see any other way of making this work.

  33. ian
    Posted October 14, 2014 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

    France tells Brussels to sling their hook on budget, Aspect to see more of the same from other country. EU starting to fall apart. France said their sovereignty comes before Brussels and EU. If only are government had guts to say the same. I have always said it better sit back and watch Europe rip it self apart. Know wonder big business changing it mind.

  34. Bring back Maggie
    Posted October 14, 2014 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

    John. As a Scot in England (who didn’t get a vote in the referendum) I’d say you are on the right track but need to go a bit further. Don’t split out two categories of MP – that won’t work. How will you elect a government who can’t carry income tax but can carry foreign policy?

    Instead, reduce the number of Scottish MPs to 40% of its current total (the Scottish Parliament website suggests this is the % of public expenditure in Scotland decided by Westminster). That would leave about 24 Scots MPs who should be allowed to vote on everything. Not perfect but it would solve the problem in part and avoid a constitutional crisis if a PM had a majority on a confidence motion but not on supply matters.

    Good to see you’re still fighting after 20 dark years of socialism.

    Reply The English majority will settle England’s income tax, and the Union government will have to accept our verdict if they are a different party.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted October 15, 2014 at 11:35 am | Permalink

      “Instead, reduce the number of Scottish MPs to 40% of its current total”

      At present a UK citizen resident in Scotland has approximately the same say over all of the many matters reserved to the UK Parliament as a UK citizen resident in England. By law the same electoral quota is now used in Scotland and England, and its strict application would lead to 57 Westminster seats in Scotland; however to cope with geographical difficulties there are in fact 2 extra seats, making it a total of 59. So the average UK citizen resident in Scotland has just 3.5% more say over all matters reserved to the UK Parliament than his counterpart in England, which is easily close enough to equality as far as I am concerned.

      What you suggest would more than halve the say of a UK citizen who happens to be resident in Scotland over all the reserved matters, so on average he would then have just 42% of the say of his counterpart resident in England.

      There is no possible justification for such a massive disenfranchisement of our fellow UK citizens who happen to live in Scotland; the problem is not that Scots are over-represented on the many matters which are properly reserved to the UK Parliament, but that their representatives in that Parliament can continue to vote on matters which have been devolved to the Scottish Parliament and should be similarly devolved to an English Parliament.

      • Bring back Maggie
        Posted October 15, 2014 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

        Denis, I appreciate that this isn’t pure logic but the alternative is either a government which then has a structural majority on some issue but not on others (which would be a downright mess) or federalism and an English First Minister, and what ever the right answer is, the wrong answer is definitely “more government”.

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted October 16, 2014 at 10:32 am | Permalink

          Well, that “downright mess” is precisely what JR is proposing, with no constitutionally or even politically entrenched separate governmental institutions for the whole of England as needed but instead a purely notional English Parliament subsumed within the UK Parliament and a purely notional English government subsumed within the UK government, and with the future continuance of even that “downright mess” insult to England and the English entirely dependent on the UK House of Commons always agreeing to keep its internal Standing Orders in the amended form that he now wants.

          But the solution to that problem cannot be to tell every UK citizen in Scotland that henceforth on all the many matters that are still reserved to the UK Parliament he will have less than half the voting power he would have if he lived in England, not unless the purpose is to ensure the disintegration of the UK.

          Looking at it theoretically I don’t buy the Tory “more government” argument, as there need be no more government in total simply because part of it was coming from devolved English institutions rather than from UK institutions. I would agree that in practice the English would have to be careful who they elected to the English Parliament and avoid installing power hungry wastrels, but of course that also applies to the UK Parliament.

  35. Max Dunbar
    Posted October 14, 2014 at 9:07 pm | Permalink

    God help us if more powers are handed to the lunatics in Scotland. We voted NO here. Do politicians understand what NO means? We have not been consulted on further devolution, it has been the usual stitch up between politicians. So NO means YES obviously. And already the majority here have been ignored. No surprises there and no doubt there will be more referenda until the ‘correct’ result is achieved.

    • Dinero
      Posted October 15, 2014 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

      Good point. Also the final vote was not much different after the “promises” compared to some of the pre promise surveys.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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