English tax rates for English voters?

There have been varying interpretations of what the Smith Report says on fixing Income Tax for Scotland and for the rest of the UK.

Labour and the Lib Dems quote the part which says “Income Tax will remain a shared tax and both the UK and Scottish Parliaments will share control of Income Tax. MPs representing constituencies across the whole of the UK will continue to decide the UK’s budget, including Income Tax”.

They wish this to mean that Scottish SMPs in Edinburgh can decide Scotland’s Income Tax rates and thresholds with no advice or votes from the rest of the UK, whilst Scottish MPs can come to Westminster to vote on the tax rates and thresholds for the rest of us.

However, Smith goes on to say “Within this framework the Scottish Parliament will have the power to set the rates of Income Tax and the thresholds at which these will be paid for the non savings and non dividend income of Scottish taxpayers. As part of this there will be restrictions on the thresholds and rates the Scottish Parliament can set. All other aspects of Income tax will remain reserved to the UK Parliament.”

Conservatives take this to mean that English votes for English issues would obviously apply to Income tax rates and thresholds, as these are no longer a UK reserved matter under the Smith settlement.

The decision to let Scotland settle her own Income tax rates and thresholds intensifies the pressure and the need for English votes for English issues, including these crucial tax powers. Some Labour MPs in private see the justice of England’s cause. Smith does not rule out justice for England, which must be getting much closer as we contemplate these large powers going to Scotland.


  1. Lifelogic
    November 28, 2014

    Smith does not rule out justice for England but he certainly does not say it in this wording he says:

    “All other aspects of Income tax will remain reserved to the UK Parliament.” The UK Parliament clearly included Scottish MPs. Some conservatives may take this to mean that English votes for English issues would obviously apply to Income tax rates and thresholds – but it does not say this so why has Cameron agreed to it? Why do the English get no say in the panic measures the party leaders foolishly offered to Scotland in the dying days of the referendum?

    I see Cameron has finally proposed to restrict in work benefits for migrants for 3 years. Why was this not done four and half years ago? Can he actually do it anyway under EU law I suspect not?

    Cameron only ever does anything sensible when his is dragged, kicking and screaming to do it. It is many years too late.

    1. Lifelogic
      November 28, 2014

      4 years it seems not three.

  2. Gina Dean
    November 28, 2014

    Why is it that different interpretation can be read into these communications, it’s time to write in PLAIN English so there is no loop hole. No other but English MPs can set income tax rates for England, the Scots will try, but we must stand firm.

    1. Bert Young
      November 28, 2014

      Quite agree ! Plain English ought to be used in the drafting of all legal documents ; ordinary people have to vote and therefore understand what they are voting for ; legalistic gobbledygook is confusing and wastes time .
      Yesterday every response was supportive of England taking hold of its affairs ; today I expect attitudes will be the same . Scotland has been given ( without prior consultation and consent ) powers of control they should not have – why should they expect more than an even share of our Unions’ resources ?.
      The Scottish referendum should never have been allowed in the first place – I blame the weak leadership of Cameron for that . The devolution of controls to Scotland , Wales and Northern Ireland has proved to be a severe crack in the unity of this country ; it spells ” break – up “within the near future .

    2. Denis Cooper
      November 28, 2014

      But we’ve long had a system of national, once English but since 1707 British, taxes to provide the national government with money for national purposes, which are decided by all the members of the national Parliament, and local taxes used for local purposes which are decided by the members of local councils.

      There have been chronic points of friction between the national and local levels, relating to how much of the revenue of local councils should come from block grants from the national level – and also whether there should be supplementary grants if unexpected special circumstances arise which impose additional costs on local councils – and what limits there should be on how much additional revenue the local councils can raise through local taxes, and whether the latter can borrow on their own accounts to balance their budgets.

      And given that since 1707 MPs from Scotland have always been able to vote to help settle such matters in the UK Parliament the Wokingham Question is not entirely new, there has always been the potential for the votes of those MPs from Scotland to directly or indirectly determine or influence both the national and local taxes paid by the good people of Wokingham, but without the associated chronic disputes posing any serious threat to the integrity of the country.

      So I don’t see why treating the devolved Scottish Parliament and government as no more than a tier of local government within the UK – for many eurocrats and others, often referred to as the “regional” level, but for the specific purposes of the franchise for elections under the Maastricht Treaty a “municipal” level – should necessarily pose an existential threat to the UK.

    3. stred
      November 28, 2014

      “All other aspects of income tax will remain reserved to the UK Parliament” seems pretty clear. The UK Parliament includes all MPs from Scotland. Cameron has signed up without any discussion or vote from English MPs. Why can’t they believe the words? Their votes will also apply to other matters apart from tax.

      His great speech in the JCB factory was amusing, especially as they were so interested that they started making JCBs in the middle and he had to stop. Can that boy talk! Anyone could forget that he has had 5 years to bring in measures which other EU countries already enforce. And other measures such as 4 years in work before getting a council house will be challenged. The usual Romanian paper seller was outside the supermarket yesterday making a start and will be able to claim housing benefit, tax credits, child benefit and unemployment benefit before the election.

      Shame he isn’t so brilliant at anything other than talking.

      1. Mitchel
        November 28, 2014

        “He is a most formidible politician” opines Peter Oborne in the DT this morning……..I hope none of you had a mouthful of cornflakes when you read that!

        1. Lifelogic
          November 29, 2014

          “Formidable” in that he is prepared to say the complete opposite of what he actually does and with a straight face and often of the truth. As in “we are repaying the debt”.

          Throwing the last election to the hapless, much hated & pension destroying Gordon Brown took some doing I suppose.

    4. Lifelogic
      November 28, 2014

      All nearly all the English used by politicians, bureaucrats and the EU is vague and misleading quite intentionally. It is often advert speak trying to lie and completely mislead you without actually quite lying. So both sides can say they won the battle.

      Cameron for example talked about “no if no buts” immigration in the tens of thousands. Twenty seven times the tens of thousands it seems. Then again on IHT, Cast Iron, the deficit, paying back the debt and being “a low tax Conservative at heart” he just lied blatantly.

      1. Jagman84
        November 28, 2014

        Maybe David Cameron meant 10,000 migrants from each of the other EU countries?

  3. Lifelogic
    November 28, 2014

    So “no ifs not buts” Cameron is finally to make his immigration speech today. He has had four and a half years in power and has only a few months left. What use is more hot air (perhaps full of new no ifs no buts and cast iron promises) at this point?

    The man has zero credibility no one trust a word he says and rightly so.

    1. JoeSoap
      November 28, 2014

      You are correct. It is totally pointless to vote Conservative with this man in charge. His fig leaf that he is in a Coalition just doesn’t stand up when he is making Vows of his own volition, and the only ones he keeps are those which go against the wishes of his core vote…..

      1. JoeSoap
        November 28, 2014

        Also it is often the case that those who speak loudest do least. The ones who make quiet promises keep them, whilst the ones who make these louder than loud, cast iron, table thumping, no ifs no buts promises are actually all hot air…..
        The one thing you can say about Brown was that his promises were quiet and subtle, benefits for all, screw the English, no Euro, laud the banks, cabinet full of Scots etc., but at least he kept them…

        1. Lifelogic
          November 28, 2014

          He did not keep to the “no return to boom of bust” promise, but he certainly destroyed millions of private pensions.

    2. Mark B
      November 28, 2014


      Don’t be so beastly. Its his final Swan-song, with the band of the Titanic playing in the background.

      1. Mitchel
        November 29, 2014

        Will his Angela Merkel drag act be good enough to get him into a lifeboat though?

    3. Bert Young
      November 28, 2014

      Once again , I fully agree !

    4. Bryan
      November 28, 2014

      He will make his immigration speech today but we read that he briefed Mrs Merkel yesterday re what he would say. Shouldn’t he have told us first? or did he need her approval?

      Shows who is really running the EU and therefore this country.

      And the Smith report – a Scottish Labour Lord with a panel of Scots etc but not an English MP on it?

      Words fail!

    5. Mike Wilson
      November 28, 2014

      The speech is a load of unmitigated twaddle. Big deal – no in work benefits for 4 years. I think most of us know that most immigrants work hard – many of them in industries where they get paid cash.

      As for the rest – nearly half a million people came here last year. More from outside the EU than from inside.

      1. Lifelogic
        November 28, 2014

        I just heard Yvette Cooper Balls on the World at One. She did not quite say “it is a question of numbers” nor “a points based system” but that is clearly what she was suggesting, being anti the large/low skilled current immigration.

        Surely a limited points based system without the current pro EU racist element, from all over the World is something everyone can accept. Except Lib/Lab/ Cameron’s conservatives and the EU it seems.

        Cameron is clearly not even going to try to negotiate our democracy and control of our borders back.

      2. Mondeo Man
        November 28, 2014

        “…many of them in industries where they get paid cash.”

        Which is, of course, illegal. Either way – in work benefits or cash-in-hand – the taxpayer is subsidising businesses unfairly.

        Anyway. The figures are so up in the air that we can’t possibly debate this sensibly. All we do know is that there is such demand for resources that virtually everything is in crisis and the country feels very different to what it did ten years ago.

        We don’t know how many immigrants work hard. And in non essentials such as coffee shops, hairdressers and sandwich factories what does it really add to our economy or do to pay down the debt ?

    6. Lifelogic
      November 28, 2014

      I have some sympathy with Andrew Mitchell today who it seems may be landed with an absurdly high £3M legal bill. Surely where such issues (one persons word against others) has to be decided a ceremonial toss of a coin (perhaps on Primrose Hill) might be just as accurate and certainly quicker and cheaper.

      The UK’s absurdly expensive, slow and often arbitrary legal system like the bloated state is a huge brake on the economy and the productive.

      1. Richard1
        November 28, 2014

        I agree, this Mitchell trial looks like a major miscarriage of justice. If the legal bill is really £3m it means someone somewhere is getting paid far too much.

    7. Lifelogic
      November 28, 2014

      Jeremy Paxman urged to run as a Tory London Mayor I read! He is surely well to the left, even of lefty Cameron. Still far better than most of the alternatives (who actually have a chance of winning that is) that I can think of. At least he can think on his feet unlike most BBC presenters.

    8. Lifelogic
      November 28, 2014

      A tiny. tiny step in the right direction from Cameron in his JCB speech this morning, after being in power for four and a half years – no where near enough.

      Classic Cameron as “the trapeze artist” was the BBC report. Which seems about right. Is he interested in winning the election, clearly not?

      Even non EU migrants is still at 272,000. Here where the government has some control it has still done nothing.

      1. Mondeo Man
        November 28, 2014

        I have given up all hope on immigration control.

        The Tory Party now needs to focus its efforts on wooing a different voter base and forgetting the previous one.

        It seems pointless to discuss any sort of strategy or planning as regards running the country as we have no idea as to how many people will be here, their attitudes or where they come from. It is a denial of all reality otherwise.

  4. Lifelogic
    November 28, 2014

    It seems David Cameron will finally say:- “I’m ready to lead Britain out of Europe if migrant reforms fail” according to the Telegraph today. It is just far too little and far too late only dragged out of him by UKIP. Why would anyone trust him this time he has ratted far too many times already? His heart is in the EU as everyone can see.

    Perhaps this, no ifs no buts (to tens of thousands), cast iron, low tax conservative at heart but not in practice, should start by telling us what he is going to do on the IHT thresholds that he & Osborne promised six(?) years ago and then ratted on. This in the highly unlikely event he actually gets an overall majority this time against the hapless sitting duck Miliband.

  5. bluedog
    November 28, 2014

    Dr JR says, ‘Some Labour MPs in private see the justice of England’s cause.’ By May 2015, full detail of the new Scottish settlement will be publicly available and subject to the undivided attention of the English electorate. The result promises to be explosive.

    Cameron is talking about a major announcement on the rights of England within two months, and it had better be good. Your friends in the Labour Party, Dr JR, will not just be aware of the justice of England’s cause, but in fear of their prospects in the Parliament. One can see Labour being reduced to a rump in both Scotland and England; hopefully Miliband will not be not sacked before the GE.

    This constitutional matter has always been a festering sore, waiting erupt. And yet Cameron wasted the first year or so of his government laying the ground for same-sex marriage, for which he had no mandate. It defies belief.

    1. alan jutson
      November 28, 2014


      Afraid Mr Cameron with his panic Vow/promise which has now come to fruition has screwed the Conservatives chances of holding power alone at the next election, and at the same time I fear has screwed the possibility of a simple English Parliament.

      We now have one gigantic complicated mess, where Scotland have gained much of what they wanted at the expense of English Taxpayers.
      The Labour Party will still in effect have an advantage not only on the Boundary changes fiasco (which did not happen in England) but also will have the backing of the SNP in Scotland at the next election, because they know they will get even more power as a result.

      Let us face facts, the Conservative party and its representatives under Camerons leadership have been a disaster at any sort of negotiation, with anyone, since 2010.

      As many of us said at the time of the Vow/Promise, Mr Salmond would win even if he lost.
      Turns out he has now got the best of both Worlds with the UK underwriting Scotlands borrowing now.

      Such a huge complicated mess you could not make it up if you tried.

      Now we move on to the immigration fiasco.!!!!

      1. Lifelogic
        November 28, 2014


    2. formula57
      November 28, 2014

      On the same-sex marriage point, would it be helpful it opponents knew (I) that it was apparently a step necessary to avoid legal challenges resting upon anti-discrimination provisions to tax breaks for families and (II) that it is not compulsory – i.e. the legislation imposes no obligation upon those not wishing to marry a person of the same sex so to do.

      1. bluedog
        November 28, 2014

        ‘…to avoid legal challenges resting upon anti-discrimination provisions to tax breaks for families’.

        In which event the government has followed specious logic in placing the principle of ‘anti-discrimination’ above the principle of supporting a man, woman and their children. The electorate will eventually reject that hierarchy.

  6. Christine Constable
    November 28, 2014

    John, we all admire you batting on England’s behalf, doesn’t it feel perverse that you are beginning to be a lone Voice in defence of England? Who exactly do the Tories imagine will vote for them if not the English and why are they committed to abusing the English by denying them a decent democracy when they also expect the English to vote for them.

    It is not rocket science for Cameron to understand that his Scottish Ancestry plays very badly in the perceived political fixes that are going on behind the scenes. We also find it unacceptable that “plans for English Devolution will be published shortly”

    The English have not even been granted a debate on the subject and now we are to be TOLD what the devolution will be!??!?!

    Has Cameron ever undertaken a course in “change management”? One of the golden rules (that has been ignored by Europe) is that if you want organisations (or countries) to change you have to consult with those affected about the changes you want to make before you impose them, otherwise those affected by the change (good or bad) will refuse to support the changes (whatever they are) because their views have not been sought or considered.

    Cameron rushing in to “regional” devolution is guaranteed to end in disaster. Firstly there are no regions. The Politicians and the EU may imagine there are regions but in the minds of the voters all that exist are COUNTIES and CONSTITUENCIES. Our COUNTIES go back 1,000 years and have the legitimacy and support of the people. They have the governmental structures and the democratic mandate and (importantly) the identity and the affection of the people that live there. Why is Cameron not allowing the English to discuss COUNTY devolution and instead starts talking about REGIONS – how does that work? The English made their views clear when Prescott tried to vote in the North East Assembly – PEOPLE DON’T WANT IT – nothing has changed.

    Cameron will lose votes simply because he is not listening, he is not understanding that what the English want is a PROPER consultation and a Vote in the same way Wales; Scotland and Northern Ireland had a vote. If we don’t get a vote then Cameron will have lost the people of England and the consequences for the Conservatives could well be fatal.

    John, I hope you are managing to get a coalition of English MP’s (from all parties) to defend the rights of England to have a voice – the current situation where 55 million people have their voice silenced because it is inconvenient to Cameron is completely unacceptable and demonstrates to every voter that none of the main three parties care about England, her history, her democracy and her right to self determination. The contempt we feel is being heaped on us is sickening.

    Please do what you can to make the deaf and blind at Westminster stop before they drive the Union and England over a cliff.

    The people of England MUST have a debate on the subject BEFORE change is enacted culminating in a proper English wide vote to decide our fate.

    1. DaveM
      November 30, 2014

      Excellent post Christine and absolutely right. Seeing as how Greater London (and soon Greater Manchester – whether they like it or not) has an elected mayor, why not just have something similar for all the other English counties and metropolitan counties; local council areas and parliamentary constituencies are still based on county boundaries. Get all those mayors etc and put them into an English Parliament and elect a first minister and appoint a SoS for England. Job done.

      I just cannot conceive how the same govt which is going to throw billions at HS links to encourage and facilitate people working in different places from where they live, expects to be able to devolve taxation to different areas. Do you pay tax where you work or where you live? It’s nonsense.

    2. a-tracy
      December 4, 2014

      EXCELLENT post Christine, they aren’t listening apart from our host, they are being arrogant and controlling and it will backfire.

      Exactly Dave what if you lived part of the year in Scotland and part of the year in England and earn an income from each place where do you pay tax, two tax codes, two tax collection centres, two NI numbers?

  7. formula57
    November 28, 2014

    A difficulty arises does it not that when Lord Smith drafted his proposals there was no such thing (beyond the fond idea) of English votes for English issues in the Parliament of the UK. His words cannot be taken to mean that issue is addressed by him.

    Implementation (at speed) of the infamous Vow (itself a product of panic) represents further tinkering with our constitution which is not the way to proceed – as the New Labour tinkering of the recent past shows and that in good measure delivered many of the present problems.

    1. Lifelogic
      November 28, 2014

      It seems likely (thanks to Cameron) that the Smith agreement will alas be interpreted by a Labour party or a Labour coalition to continue to fleece the English.

  8. Richard1
    November 28, 2014

    We are getting near to the point where English voters are going to demand a referendum on this radical constitutional change. The Conservative leadership need to be very clear and very quickly so on this, irrespective of what this commission has said. English voters will not accept Scottish MPs speaking or voting in Parliament on devolved issues. If income tax is to be devolved, that means they can’t vote on the budget, or at least the part of it relating to devolved issues such as income tax. Its really important Mr Cameron doesn’t fudge this. Labour will fight tooth and nail to obfuscate this – trying to kick it into the long grass by saying we need a constitutional convention, let’s have devolution to cities etc. We aren’t going to have regional devolution in England which in any way compares with Scottish devolution. We must be resolute in demanding Justice for England – English votes for English issues.

    1. JoeSoap
      November 28, 2014

      Yes it is getting to the point where a foreign power is deciding our tax rates, which could be fought legally in the ECHR, I would have thought.

    2. JooksB
      November 28, 2014

      Sadly Richard1, English voters have accepted Scottish MPs speaking and voting in Parliament on devolved issues. Our kids now pay tuition fees which theirs don’t thanks to them. It is this apathy which has allowed politicians of all colours to get away with it for so long, not helped by their deliberate conflation of England and the UK and their deliberate avoidance of the word England at all costs.

      Fortunately England is now waking up to the rotten deal they continue to get, even under a Tory led Government, and it is the job of those of us who want to see justice for England, to make sure those who haven’t woken up yet are aware of the contempt out politicians have for England.

      It’s the only way to get justice for England because if we leave it to our self serving politicians, it will never happen.

    3. Mark B
      November 28, 2014

      We aren’t going to have regional devolution in England . . .

      I think you mate, Gideon has other ideas, despite the people of Manchester not wanting it.

    4. Denis Cooper
      November 28, 2014

      Of course the UK Parliament could decide to put the EVEL fudge on hold and instead bite on the bullet and give people in England a referendum on whether they would like the same as people in Scotland have had for the past fifteen years – a separate and separately elected devolved parliament and government.

    5. Bob
      November 28, 2014

      ” Its really important Mr Cameron doesn’t fudge this.”

      Prepare for disappointment Richard, Cameron’s track record is one of smoke, mirrors and fudge.

      BTW, did you see Lord Ashcroft’s report on his polling in Doncaster yesterday?

      1. Lifelogic
        November 28, 2014

        Indeed UKIP could unseat Miliband if the Tories vote tactically, they might as well do the Tories have no chance up there.

        The country and voters are crying out for UKIP/proper Tory government. Will Cameron catch on in time it is like turning an oil tanker round with the captain fighting at the wheel?

    6. BobE
      November 28, 2014

      Richard, Regional devolution in England will make it easier for us to be absorbed into the eussr superstate. We must oppose any hint of that tactic.

      1. Richard1
        November 28, 2014

        I agree, devolution within England is an obfuscation to avoid the main issue of Justice for England.

  9. Narrow Shoulders
    November 28, 2014

    Unless we are to move to a model where all tax collected become spending only in tbe region in which they are collected then regional income tax rates can only be unfair. Either Scottish people pay more or less tax with the balance topped up or reduced through the grant.

    One other solution would be (UK wide) to ringfence areas of expenditure that each tax covers. So income tax could be used for welfare, defence, law and order and education while NI was used for pensions and health. This would permit Scotland to raise its own money to spend in these areas without recourse to the rest of us. Further benefits would be to show taxpayers where the money is going. VED could go to transport. Energy duties only would go to generating subsidies, fuel duty and VAT for infrastructure, stamp duties for social housing etc.

    This negates the need to move to a federal model while giving regions the opportunity to raise and spend taxes raised locally.

  10. DaveM
    November 28, 2014

    “Smith does not rule out justice for England, which must be getting much closer as we contemplate these large powers going to Scotland.”

    There will only be justice for England, Wales & NI when all four countries have EXACTLY the same powers and political structure in every respect.

  11. Old Albion
    November 28, 2014

    It’s an unworkable fudge. Westminster will do anything to avoid the obvious answer.
    An English Parliament within a new UK federation.

  12. Ian wragg
    November 28, 2014

    How much longer until you declare being white Christian English to be illegal. I watched the debate yesterday and was disgusted at the way we were being marginalised. We are just here to finance the rest of the world with our taxes
    I bet another million went over to Ukip after that debacle and news that another half a million low skilled immigrants arrived and displaced a quarter of a million educated British souls. No doubt after CMD has made his speech that will be the end of it
    Jam tomorrow.

  13. Denis Cooper
    November 28, 2014

    As I understand it is being proposed that income tax should be a federal tax but with the devolved Scottish institutions having the power to make certain variations for Scotland; and more power to do that than they have at present, which I believe they have had since their inception fifteen years ago but have never actually exercised at any time?

    I don’t see it as a huge problem in principle that there could be differences between the taxation of income in Scotland and England, but the devil is in the detail and it needs to be an orderly and comprehensible system and from what I’ve read the Smith proposals have potential for confusion because they do not involve a clean separation between a uniform federal income tax system determined by the federal UK Parliament, with all its elected members being allowed to vote, and supplementary devolved income tax systems which may be different in the different components of the federation as determined by the elected members of the devolved assemblies within certain limits.

    1. bluedog
      November 28, 2014

      Dennis Cooper, you are right, as I recall the Scots have the right to levy a discrete income tax at the rate of 3%, but as you say have not done so.

      Smith seems to create a situation where Scotland can cut its Income Tax rate but remain fully supported through Barnett.

  14. Iain Moore
    November 28, 2014

    If our political class had had some vision they would have challenged the SNP on their parochial nationalism by insisting that all the nations of the UK are treated the same. So if the Scots wanted Scottish taxes spent in Scotland, insisted that this would be the case in all the countries. This would have impoverished Wales and NI, and very quickly shown up the nationalists as nasty and selfish, and destroyed any notion of Celtic brotherhood, and as such begun to unpick the Braveheart nationalism.

    Unfortunately our political classes are a pretty myopic lot, instead of challenging the SNP they have fed them with the Barentt formula.

  15. Nick
    November 28, 2014

    English voters to decide on English taxes.

    If only.

    You’ve no intention what so ever of giving English voters the vote on what tax they are prepared to pay.

    It’s just English MPs.

    1. Lifelogic
      November 28, 2014


  16. Brian Tomkinson
    November 28, 2014

    You are clutching at straws. Nowhere in the quotes you print is there any mention of ‘English votes for English issues’. In fact, Smith’s Report is saying that the only exception to the UK Parliament’s control over the budget and income tax is to allow the Scottish Parliament to set income tax rates and the thresholds at which they will be set within certain restrictions. This agreement was signed by your party and your leader praised it highly.
    He is increasingly like the ‘Grand Old Duke of York’ marching you and your colleagues to the top of the hill only to march you down again. We will hear more from him today about immigration but most people won’t believe a word of it – in our case there will be definitely no ifs,no buts! Still, you won’t hear a word of criticism about him which, sadly, shows just how blind you are to what is happening around you.

  17. Mark B
    November 28, 2014

    Good morning.

    First I would like to thank our kind host for his efforts. One is not always able to appreciate others when you are a little; to put it mildly, annoyed with what is being proposed.

    Let us not forget, that this is a report, and not a mandated government policy. The so called vow, made by the party leaders, does not bind me or should bind Parliament. They were neither consulted or consent sought, prior to it being made. It therefore, in my view, has no legal standing.

    What this article from our kind host tells me is, that all this is about two things, and they are not new to the history of these islands.

    1) Power. And who gets to exercise it.

    2) Money. Who gets to raise it, and who gets to spend it.

    What it is not, and never has been, is about coming to a just a equitable settlement for ALL the peoples of these islands. It is all about maintaining power, control, spending and relevancy of the political parties. The SNP does not want independence, or a just settlement for Scotland, they want to be able to raise taxes, borrow money, and spend on whatever they like. And from that, they will gather influence and more power.

    We should have just let them walk.

  18. agricola
    November 28, 2014

    It would appear to me that the Smith Committee has produced a dogs breakfast. If I find your explanation confusing it must be equally confusing to you. Such is the result produced by a committee, when you specify a horse you get a camel.

    Clarity to my mind requires that everything devolved to a Scottish Parliament cannot be subsequently voted on with regard to England, Wales or Northern Ireland in Westminster by Scottish members of the UK Parliament. It is not their business.

    It would be much more cost effective if Scottish MPs produced solely for Westminster ceased to exist. What is wrong with members of the Scottish Parliament visiting Westminster to vote on UK matters which are outside their remit in their own Parliament.

    Labours attitude is undemocratic and childish. I hope they get hammered for it in May next year. They need a reality check, they are no longer significant in Scotland, and they are under pressure in England from UKIP. Their thinking has reverted to that of the 30s and anyone with half a brain cannot forget what they did to the economy from 1997 to 2010. To cap it all their shadow education spokesperson has the gall to try to make independent and very successful education responsible for sorting out the totally underperforming state sector education. Labour are the party of mediocrity who fail in education and just about everything they touch. They are the archetypal dead parrot that should not be allowed a life support machine of socialism imported from Scotland.

    1. Iain Moore
      November 29, 2014

      “I hope they get hammered for it in May next year”

      They won’t for there is no British political party willing to show up their anti Englishness. The Cameron Conservatives won’t, and strangely, on an issue made for UKIP, Farrage has been silent on it as well. So with no political party putting Labour’s anti Englishness in stark relief, it won’t be spoken of, and so won’t be an issue in the election.

  19. oldtimer
    November 28, 2014

    It is bordering on the absurd, is it not, that the Smith Report, written by a Scot, advised by a panel of other Scots – some MPs, some MSPs and some not holding elected office at all – should be placed in a position where he is determining how income tax rates should be set in the rest of the UK. This would a case of the tail wagging the dog. But this is exactly what Labour wants and would have us believe is “the right thing to do”. Do they think we are stupid?

    The Scot report is entirely self serving to the Scottish interest – that is its purpose. It has no role or part to play in serving the interests of the rest of the UK. As for the rest of us it is not too difficult to conclude that what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. Parliament had better get on with it PDQ.

    It is all, of course, a constitutional shambles. I do sometimes wonder if anyone who holds a PPE degree should be barred from elected office – such is the mess they have made of things.

  20. oldtimer
    November 28, 2014

    While on the subject of taxation. I read that HMRC is now overwhelmed in trying to keep up with the changes and that the Office of Tax Simplification lists 1,140 separate tax reliefs.

    On past form Mr Osborne can be expected to add even more. I also read that last year`s Finance Bill ran to 646 pages. There have, apparently been only five Finance Acts longer than 600 pages and the Coalition has been responsible for three of them.

    Changes in tax raising powers might offer the opportunity for the simplification the UK tax code needs. But I shall not be holding my breath. The reverse looks more likely to be true.

  21. NickW
    November 28, 2014

    If there is ambiguity in the Smith Report, why not ask for clarification?

    Why didn’t the Smith report discuss and rectify the democratic deficit implicit in Scottish MPs voting on matters which affect only England?

    What mechanisms will be put in place to ensure that Scotland lives within its means and cannot set rates of tax substantially lower than England and then rely on England to bale them out, either by transfers, or by borrowing, with England having to guarantee the debt?

    The problem is that Scotland is negotiating purely on behalf of Scottish interests and with no concern for protecting the Union, the English are trying to protect a “Union” which manifestly no longer exists, and selling the English down the river as usual.

    If the Scots won’t agree to a settlement which treats the constituent parts of the Union equally, we need to accept that the Union no longer exists and not only dissolve it, but dissolve it on terms fair to the English.

    The English need to be properly represented and Scotland needs to recognise the importance of English interests, just as we recognise the importance of Scottish interests.

    The impression at the moment, (yourself excluded), is that England is being represented by wet lettuce.

    1. alan jutson
      November 30, 2014


      Agree with the points you make.

      One person trying to bribe the other to remain as a united team, but on unequal terms.

      Has never worked in the past, never will.

  22. acorn
    November 28, 2014

    I an unsure of what needs an English vote; a Scottish vote or a UK vote! The report certainly doesn’t make it obvious. If we are going to have separate “fiscal” (tax and spending) policies, then there needs to be a totally separate “federal” (UK wide) tax system and four “state” tax systems.

    Somebody has to decide what is a Federal, that is, a UK wide public good or service that will (theoretically) be paid for with Federal personal and corporate taxes. Added to those, will be State supplied goods and services, paid for with State personal and corporate taxes.

    I assume that there will be one, federal, UK sovereign currency. Hence, one “monetary” policy operated by the BoE, that will remain the wholly owned subsidiary of the UK Federal Treasury.

    The Federal government will remain the currency issuer. The States will be currency users. That is, the States can’t spend new financial assets into existence, only tax or borrow them. There are a lot countries that run federal money systems. This UK proposal will undoubtedly turn into a total Horlicks, it’s got all the signs.

    I have never known a period when this country, was so at war with itself, as it is now. Or is it just me?

    Reply We already define what is a Scottish issue so it can be handled by the Scottish Parliament.

  23. M Davis
    November 28, 2014

    I hope you will stick with this like a dog to a bone, JR. If it does actually happen that there will be English votes for English issues, that would be one (and one only) reason, for me to contemplate voting Conservative again. For most of my voting life I have voted Conservative, having been brought up in a staunch Conservative voting family, but with Mr Camerons’, “Gay Marriage” plus his policies (or pretend ones such as on the EU), – Immigration, Energy, HS2 etc., it would be a miracle.

  24. Atlas
    November 28, 2014

    The phrase “out of the frying pan and into the fire” applies here. The Smith recommendations look to me to be a constitutional nightmare.

    As an Englishman I wish to have my say over this plan in a referendum. Cameron had no mandate to offer what he did.

  25. libertarian
    November 28, 2014

    What a complete and utter dog’s breakfast.

    You lot in Westminster just get worse and worse. Just when we think you can’t cock up any worse, you do.

    Basically what should have happened if this was the eventual plan is that Scotland should have gained independence. This new scheme is a shambles.

    So the best way forward now? Full English Independence.

  26. Stephen Berry
    November 28, 2014

    At first sight, the recommendations of the Smith report on income tax seem to be a complete dog’s dinner. To spread the responsibility for this tax across both the UK and the Scottish parliaments looks like a recipe for future dissension. But perhaps this fudge was deliberately conceived so that it could be claimed that Scottish MPs still have a legitimate vote on the finance bill?

    The joke is that if one part of the UK were to impose a higher income tax than the rest, there would be a powerful economic incentive for workers in that area to move. Note that the Scottish parliament already has the power to vary income tax but has wisely decided not to exercise this power.

    Why don’t the Tories offer the Scots full tax raising powers and have done with it? That way we get rid of the Barnet formula and the unnatural situation where the Scottish government can happily dispense the proceeds of tax and still complain about austerity from London.

  27. FCA
    November 28, 2014

    Nobody appears to have asked HMRC how they will cope with more tax rates. Who will decide who is eligible for lower Scottish tax rates. Will they apply to Scots living in England; English and other immigrants living in Scotland; what will be the definition of an eligible Scot, New Zealander or South African with a Scottish Grandparent as per the Rugby team? If there are only higher Scottish rates the SNP will have shot itself in the foot.

  28. Mark W
    November 28, 2014

    I’m really on the fly today, but well done John for keeping up on this one. Top form on Daily Politics yesterday too.

    Thank you

  29. Max Dunbar
    November 28, 2014

    This chaotic and muddled farce is only going to get worse.
    What a mess Cameron has got us in to. Weak leadership, a hopelessly unrepresentative coalition and the Conservative Party held in contempt by those who used to support it and now drifting to oblivion.

    It’s not as if the correspondents on this site are a collection of Left-wing activists, but almost without exception they attack both your leader and the Party you stand for. They are not unreasonable people, quite the opposite but they and many like them have seen the way that our country has been gradually and then more rapidly destroyed.

    Most of the commenters here live in England. They are luckier than me. They do have hope as there is a party that they can vote for. Scotland faces a grim future but it is worth remembering that our future is inextricably tied to yours and always will be.

    The Union bound us together and moderated Scotland’s bellicose and warlike tendencies. It created stability and despite civil war in 1745/6 during which forces similar to those we see today were defeated, peace has prevailed ever since. Can we keep it that way or will we turn the clock back 300 years?
    Cochrane Street in Glasgow was named after our greatest Lord Provost. He saved the city from pillage and destruction in 1745. This very street was the scene for the stand-off between Unionists and Republican Marxists in September.

    1. Sandra Cox
      November 29, 2014

      Thanks for an interesting comment. I take your point about the bond between our nations – I think the palpable feeling of frustration caused by rapid changes to our way of life, by five-year fixed parliaments, and the age it takes to get sensible solutions through, has taken its toll.

      I’m afraid I can feel another “bash the politicians” moment coming on, but no matter what you feel about the SNP and its aims and methods, at least you have two very strong individuals, Salmond and Sturgeon, who will hit the ground running and, by fair means or foul, will get the best deal for Scotland.

      They have run rings round our lot who don’t even want to come out of the starting gate!

      Apart from John and a few others, we are “saddled” with a bunch of losers!

      1. William Gruff
        November 29, 2014

        They have run rings round our lot who don’t even want to come out of the starting gate!

        No they haven’t: we have no ‘lot’ to look after our interests; we are still dictated to by the British government. Had we an English Parliament to protect us this nonsense might have been prevented.

        Only an English parliament can properly represent the interests of the people of England.

  30. ChrisS
    November 28, 2014

    Labour are fighting a rearguard action against EVEL on all fronts to protect their ability to get a budget through the House in the unlikely event that the British people ever trust them to run the economy again.

    We simply can’t allow them to get away with depriving England of the same devolved powers as Scotland just to protect their own narrow political interests.

    Let’s hope that the LibDems see sense and support the Conservatives and help pass the necessary change to standing orders through the house.

  31. JimS
    November 28, 2014

    The rise of UKIP and the SNP is because Westminster doesn’t listen.

    Now Westminster has cobbled together a cosy little deal that no-one asked for. They still aren’t listening.

    We are the United Kingdom. Get rid of the NI, Scottish and Welsh assemblies. Stop turning us into a little Germany, ripe for EU domination.

  32. fedupsouthener
    November 28, 2014

    If Mr Cameron doesn’t come up with a satisfactory solution to this problem then the Tories are dead in the water. This one issue could be the turning point. Many people who are undecided about their vote in May will turn their backs on the 3 main parties who have completely forgotten about the English in their hurry to appease the Scots. Watching Mr Salmond on This Week with Andrew Neil last night was enough to make me want to throw a brick through the TV screen. If this is what politics is going to be like then the UK is doomed. Cameron MUST do something constructive and now.

  33. Eddie Hill
    November 28, 2014

    The truly scary thing about those two paragraphs is that, not only do they not mean what each side wants them to mean, neither of them really makes any sense to begin with.

    Even scarier is that one bunch of lawyers is drafting them with certain objectives in mind and another bunch is interpreting them and getting completely different meanings out of them, and as usual in my experience, as soon as you get lawyers involved, meaning goes out the window.

    We really are in a terrible mess at the moment and all we get is speeches.

    Sort it out!

    And the first thing Cameron needs to do is to renege on “The Vow” because he has no qualms about reneging on any of his other “no ifs, no buts, cast iron” pledges, so why can’t he renege on this one?

  34. ian
    November 28, 2014

    Hi john
    Scotland to keep the block grant of 9 billion a year and also to be able to borrow as much money as it likes under written by the bank of England for the tax slaves of England and wales to pay back. Nobody has saying any think about that in parliament or in the media. This will make the pound go down and inflation to go up by 3 to 4 per cent a year after the next election. When Scotland has had it fill it will vote to leave the union without a referendum if has over 60% SNP mps. You can forget about a English parliament but they will not tell you about all the bad news till after the next election. Scotland to borrow billions in your names and EU to charge uk billion more next year, have fun paying it all back.

  35. The PrangWizard
    November 28, 2014

    All this confusion just demonstrates the futility of going for a half-hearted solution to a fundamental question. There is little point in pretending that somehow the mess can be resolved by tinkering. Anyone who claims to speak for England, must put England first, not second to maintaining a failing and corrupt Union.

    Only a true English parliament, followed by the establishment of an independent England will get us out of the mess that has been created by a politically corrupt and incompetent Unionist and British Establishment which does its utmost to suppress the aspirations of the English people.

    There will be no renaissance until England is free again to govern itself in its own way without interference from outside.

    1. William Gruff
      November 29, 2014

      Here, here.

  36. Javelin
    November 28, 2014

    I pay over £50k a year in tax I keep fit and probably cost the tax payer very little.

    As I am not in the process of eating myself to death like the rest of the UK population could I please have a rebate?

  37. nick
    November 28, 2014

    If the state is robbing you via taxation who cares what level of government local or national is doing it?! How about no taxation at all as it is theft by the State and however you cut it that is Wrong.We may not abolish it over night but over a 20 year period,reducing it by increments year by year.

  38. Freeborn John
    November 28, 2014

    Cameron added yet more evidence today that he would prefer to stay in the EU than win the general election. But why is the parliamentary party happy to have become serial election losers and head towards permanent replacement as a major party?

    1. libertarian
      November 29, 2014

      Freeborn John

      Have you heard the old aphorism that if you place a frog in a pan of water and slowly bring it to the boil, the frog won’t move as its only a little warmer ?

      That is the modern Conservative Party they’ve been sat in a pan of slowly boiling water for the last 30 years trying to convince themselves that this time next year things will change. They won’t. They’ve sold out to the EU. The Conservative Party is irrelevant now. They are all just hanging on to their jobs.

      There is a cartel in operation of the main political parties, the media and big corporates who have dispensed with democracy and listening to voters/customers and do whatever they want to the detriment of the people.

  39. Margaret Brandreth-J
    November 28, 2014

    Good speech today David Cameron

  40. DaveM
    November 28, 2014

    OT – BBC reaction to DC’s speech fairly typical:

    More attention paid to Farage’s typo than the content of his comments.
    Not one other anti-EU person quoted.

    So it starts…

    1. DaveM
      November 28, 2014

      PS – the point I was going to make!!

      Lots of attention being paid to the SNP’s reaction – to wit, “Scotland will be removed from the EU against its will.” Um, no – your people voted to stay in the UK therefore your people are content for decisions such as this to be taken by Westminster.

      John, someone needs to put the SNP back in their (preferably soundproof) box and remind them of the result of their little vote.

  41. ian
    November 28, 2014

    hi john
    D.Cameron will never do anything about immigration, it all hot air. 80% of immigrants on government and council hand outs along with 60% of the uk people. It all coming to a tiping piont with service. When next lots of cuts come in there will not be much left to fight over. Get out if you can or you will be redrum if you go into hospital, which been going on seen 2001 to make room for more immigration. With wet&mad who cannot even add up, he thinks the debt is going down, can someone wake him up because i can see the budget going up 15 billion a year with Scotland and the EU just to name two, All in all revry thing is out of control. Vote a for yourself and keep well away from politician for your own peace of mind. Think.

  42. petermartin2001
    November 29, 2014

    I wouldn’t disagree with that sentiment that those who decide levels of taxation, and levels of spending should be democratically elected by those who have to pay that taxation and benefit from that spending .

    The problem in the UK would seem relatively minor compared to what’s happening in the Eurozone though.

    Google {EU should be able to veto national budgets: Germany’s Schaeuble (Friday 28th November) }

    Of course what Wolfgang Schaeuble really means is that he or someone of like mind should be able to veto someone else’s budget. What about democracy? What about the right of everyone to elect their government and have them decide on the budget?

    Who do these people think they are? Everyone in the UK who supports the idea of English Tax Rates for English voters should equally support the idea of French tax rates for French voters, or similarly for Spanish, Italian voters etc.

    We may all have disagreed with the late Tony Benn on some issues but he had the courage to always speak out against the anti-democratic tendencies of the EU. The present day left are totally spineless. There won’t be a word of criticism from them about this.

    November 29, 2014

    So many interpretations. Goodness we’ll need even more Parliamentarians north and south of the border to sort this one out.
    It would have saved time and money if Braveheart had won outright though the volume of Scottish migration to England would no doubt have been economically and culturally debilitating.

  44. Lindsay McDougall
    November 29, 2014

    Has anyone even thought about how big a fiscal deficit Scotland will be allowed on its expenditure? Hopefully zero or an amount specified by the UK Chancellor.

    Isn’t there a correct order to take these decisions? :
    – Decide which areas of expenditure Scotland will be allowed to control
    – Decide how this will be financed

    A propos of which, I have a difficulty seeing how the granting of substantial tax raising powers to Scotland combined with retention of the Barnett formula can work to England’s advantage. It will enable the Holyrood Government to look good by spending more per head than England at the expense of English taxpayers (in other words, like now but more so).

    If we want to preserve the Union, we must ensure that the Holyrood Government is perceived as incompetent. Getting rid of the Barnett formula is essential.

  45. Kenneth R Moore
    November 29, 2014

    Dr Redwood,

    I watched your interview on the Daily Politics with interest- it seems the Conservative leadership signed the Smith agreement without assurances that it meant that Scottish Mp’s could be excluded from voting on English tax matters. The Scottish Labour leader’s view was that this is not the case. Can you shed any light on this ?.

    Why did Mr Cameron sign this document and without assurances that it gives a good deal for the English.

  46. William Long
    November 30, 2014

    It has been clear for a long time that the only way this whole issue might have been addressed properly, would have been if the Scots had voted ‘Yes’ and I greatly regret they did not.

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