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.