Thank you for the opportunity to submit my thoughts on the way ahead for Scotland following the recent Scottish Independence Referendum. Can I first start by asking that any and all submissions made by members of the public be given equal weight to those submitted by civic Scotland and the Political Parties.
Principle 1 During the referendum campaign Better Together and members of the various political parties suggested that Scotland would receive substantial new powers; in particular the following statements were made:
Gordon Brown promised ‘enhanced devolution. ‘
David Cameron “extensive new powers” for the Scottish parliament.
Nick Clegg “We must now deliver on time and in full the radical package of newly devolved powers to Scotland.”
Ed Miliband “Labour will guarantee that change, with more powers coming to the Scottish Parliament on the timetable we agreed during the campaign.”
We also have ‘The Vow ‘ as reported on the front page of the Daily Record and signed by the three party leaders. No one from Better Together or the political parties at any point contradicted the proposition of devo-max or home rule.
Principle 2 It has been widely accepted since the Constitutional Convention and signed by David Steele and Donald Dewar that “We hereby acknowledge the sovereign right of the Scottish people to determine the form of government best suited to their needs”. There needs to be a clear acceptance that it is for the Scottish people to decide who governs them and there can in no terms be any legislation that attempts to disband the Scottish Parliament or to prevent any Scottish Government from holding a future referendum if that is the will of the Scottish people by means of electing a Scottish Government on that platform.
My suggestions for additional powers are as follows.
1. Control over all taxation, including Oil and Gas, be devolved to the Scottish Parliament and therefore the Scottish Parliament will be held responsible to the Scottish People.
2. That the Scottish Parliament be enshrined in law to ensure that no Westminster Government can ever dissolve the Scottish Parliament against the wishes of the Scottish people.
3. That responsibility for the BBC and wider broadcasting be devolved to the Scottish Parliament due to the obvious lack of balance during the referendum campaign, plus the lack of accountability to TV license payers in Scotland, as well as, a lack of dedicated Scottish content that accurately reflects Scottish culture.
4. That responsibility for representation within the EU on appropriate Scottish matters be the sole responsibility of Scottish Ministers.
5. That legal matters requiring appeal to ECHR be the responsibility of the Court of Judiciary in Edinburgh and not the Supreme Court in London.
6. Proper Scottish Government representation on the board of the Bank of England.
Overall, during the referendum campaign the implication from the No campaign, from the Prime Minster and others, was that Scotland would receive devo-max or home rule. This is the basis of the deal offered to the electorate and one that many voters voted for. Anything less than devo-max would be a breaking of the implied offer and therefore mean that the basis of any no vote was based on a lie. Should this be the case, then I would expect any devolution offer or settlement to be put to the Scottish people in a vote for their approval or rejection of any offer.
This is not a plea for neverendums but an acceptance that Scottish people have a right to decide their own futures. We were offered devo-max by implication, anything less than that should require the consent of the Scottish people.