The Strathclyde Commission report

The Scottish Conservatives have today published the report of the Strathclyde Commission, their review of how Scottish devolution should change if there is a No vote in the September referendum. I’ve been an adviser to the commission since it was set up, and it has been a great pleasure to advise Lord Strathclyde and his fellow commissioners, and the party more generally, and to help them consider what can (and what cannot, or cannot sensibly) be done by way of enhancing devolution.

The report recommends the devolution of income tax, including the power to set the rates and thresholds between bands, as well as some smaller taxes, and to look at assigning a proportion of the proceeds of VAT.  It also proposes devolution of attendance allowance, housing benefit if that is possible given the Universal Credit, and a general devolved power to supplement UK-level welfare.

The report is available from the Scottish Conservatives’ website here. Their press statement about the report is here, and Ruth Davidson’s article for Scotland on Sunday on the plans is here.  Sunday’s Telegraph trail for it (pretty well informed) is here.

The impact of the work I’ve been doing with Guy Lodge in the IPPR’s Devo More project is palpable in the Strathclyde proposals. This is clearly a model for enhanced devolution and – as I argued in my chapter for the IPPR’s book Democracy in Britain – works from the point of view of all three major political traditions, with some variations.

Those interested in the effect of the Strathclyde proposals may find it useful to look at two tables I’ve prepared.  These can be downloaded HERE. Table 1 shows how much of the Scottish Government’s budget would come from devolving the various taxes considered in the report, without any change to its current functions. Table 2 shows the proportion of its budget it would generate from tax revenues if the measures of welfare devolution that it contemplates also took place. In the case of tax revenues, it assumes that Scottish tax levels of devolved taxes would remain the same as those set by the UK Government, so in that sense it should be regarded as an assessment of fiscal capacity rather than a straightforward amount of money. The assumption that 10 points of VAT (rather than some other figure) is mine, and made mainly as that is the figure used in Funding Devo More which involved some complicated arithmetic given changing rates of VAT between 2007 and 2010.

UPDATE: There’s news coverage from BBC News here, and a Guardian liveblog (quoting this post!) here.  The Guardian news story is here, a blog post by Severin Carrell here, the FT‘s are here and here (note: registration/paywall), and the Telegraph’s (emphasising David Cameron’s support) here.




Filed under Conservatives, Publications and projects, Scotland

5 responses to “The Strathclyde Commission report

  1. I am still perplexed by the fact that this movement for more Scots devolution seems to be done without any reference to the wider implications for the rest of the UK, England particularly. Moves down the route toward full fiscal and welfare devolution, will mean Scotland being virtually ‘independent’ in domestic policy matters, and give it a potential competitive advantage over England and its regions. Inevitably full ‘domestic policy’ devolution is not far down the road. Surely the issue of England needs addressing & some kind of constitutional framework UK wide needs to be put in place, in what is becoming an unbalanced, asymmetric quasi-federal state.

    • Richard Carter

      Agree wi some of old nats comments… Yorkshire First will fight for full devo of powers for our region. The uk system has always had inconsistencies. could argue that is a strength. .. Yorkshire has a population the same size as Scotland, an economy twice the size of Wales but wi the powers of neither. It is time for the national parties to stop offering crumbs off the table and 2nd rate devolution. When will the Tories start talking positively about more powers for our region?

  2. oldnat

    In a four party system in Scotland, referring to it working “from the point of view of all three major political traditions, with some variations” simply ignores the major political tradition in Scotland that Westminster is not the place to determine the best strategy for Scottish governance. Naturally, you and they, wish any change in arrangements to be those which they determine are in their interests.

    I note that you refer to any change in Universal Credit as “if that is possible”. The idea that Lab/Con would introduce such a variation in what you all wish to be a unitary state, looks like the lowest form of politicking. No one (including yourself, I would think) has any belief that such a change would be introduced.

  3. Pingback: Can Scotland trust Westminster to transfer enough powers to seal it for a No result? | Constitution Unit Blog

  4. Pingback: A brand new UK is on offer if we vote No » Open Unionism

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