I’m afraid I’ve only just managed to managed to catch up with the Scotland bill and accompanying ‘Command paper’ Strengthening Scotland’s Future published a week ago. The Command paper is available here, the bill itself and related documents are here, and the Scotland Office’s press release announcing its publication is here. The response of the Scottish Government – remarkably restrained, in the circumstances – is here.
The paper and bill pretty much live up to my billing of a few weeks ago, in very largely delivering the Calman Commission’s report as it stands. A few provisions of the report have been dropped, some relating to policies that have changed or are changing as a result of policies of the Coalition UK Government. A few changes have been added. One is formally to rename of the Scottish Executive as the Scottish Government – accepting that the new usage has become so established since 2007 that it needs to be recognised in law. My personal favourite is a new reservation relating to the Antarctic, the legal point of which escapes me in the light of section 29 (2) (a) of the Scotland Act 1998.
In many other respects, this paper is what the white paper of last November should have been – a careful analysis of how to deliver the Calman report, rather than cherry-picking the acceptable parts of it (see HERE and HERE for my discussions of that). A sceptic might wonder why so many of the recommendations that weren’t acceptable to the UK Government for technical or practical reasons a year ago, when it published Scotland’s Place in the United Kingdom, are now acceptable and workable. Elections have a funny effect that way.
I’ll be putting up several posts about this in the next couple of days, concerning the bill’s financial and fiscal provisions, and discussing what it says more generally in constitutional terms.