Friday, 28 November 2014

Lord Smith reports 4 - Financial responsibility

Now a consideration of the third section of the Smith Commission report, which covers strengthening the financial responsibility of the Scottish Parliament.

Not really much new to say on this that hasn't been covered extensively by the mainstreeam media and many of the pro-indy media as well.  Basically the Scottish Parliament gets to control income tax rates and bands, but only for earned income.  The actual money will still be collected by HMRC and will be remitted to the Scottish Government, concomitant with a reduction in the block grant for that amount.

We will also get part of the VAT receipts from Scotland returned to us.  Why part I wonder?  It would be better to assign all of the Scottish VAT receipts to Scotland surely? Most other taxes remain reserved to Westminster, meaning that most of Scotland's income from its resources will still be swallowed up by Westminster.

Throughout the document it is stated that the Scottish Government will be expected to pay any additional costs caused by the devolution of powers.  There is also this lovely little sting in the tail:
The UK Parliament would continue to have a reserved power to levy an addtional UK-wide tax if it felt it was in the UK national interest.
There's no mention, however, of the Scottish Parliament being consulted if this was the case.  So, hypothetically, if Westminster decided on another military adventure and needed cash for this, they can impose a UK-wide tax to pay for it and as far as I can see, we don't get a say in it.  Nice.

So, to sum up, this report is woefully short of the Devo-Max/home rule that voters were promised at the end of the referendum campaign, and does not represent any meaningful transfer of power.  Neverthless, it's still regarded as a step too far by some of the UK political parties, who are already raising questions about some aspects.

Summing up in one sentence?  All fur coat and nae knickers.

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