Scottish independence: Gordon Brown outlines 'power-sharing' UK


Gordon Brown: "We've got to find a way of working together again. We cannot have this permanent stand-off"

Former prime minister Gordon Brown said Holyrood should be given more control over tax as part of a power sharing plan between London and Edinburgh.

He called for a move away from the current system in favour of a constitutional partnership of nations.

Senior Lib Dem Sir Menzies Campbell said there was a consensus to devolving more financial powers to Holyrood.

The Scottish government said only independence would give Scotland the powers it needed to flourish.

Speaking in Glasgow ahead of the 18 September independence referendum, Mr Brown argued for a move away from a centralised British system to one where nations shared power, risk and resources.

Nicola Sturgeon: "The only way we can secure new powers is to vote yes in the referendum"

He told the audience: "We need to build the future of the relationship between Scotland, England and the rest of the United Kingdom.

"I believe there are six constitutional changes we have got to make for a better relationship between Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom, to turn what I would call a unitary and centralised state of the past into a partnership of equals and one where there is power-sharing across the United Kingdom."

Scotland is already due to receive new powers over income tax from April 2016, when the UK Treasury will deduct 10p from standard and upper rates of income tax in Scotland, giving MSPs the power to decide how to raise cash.

But Mr Brown suggested letting the UK government decide the first 5p of income tax and giving responsibility over the next 15p to Scotland was a "fair way" of raising 40% of the revenue of the Scottish Parliament in Scotland.

The Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath MP and former chancellor's six changes would involve:

  • A new UK constitutional law to set out the purpose of the UK as pooling and sharing resources for the defence, security and well-being of the citizens of all four nations
  • A constitutional guarantee of the permanence of the Scottish Parliament
  • A new division of powers between Scotland and Westminster that gives Holyrood more powers in employment, health, transport and economic regeneration
  • A new tax sharing agreement that balances the commitment of the UK to pool and share its resources with the need for accountability to the electors in all the places where money is spent
  • New power-sharing partnerships to address shared problems on poverty, unemployment, housing need and the environment
  • A "radical" transfer of powers downwards from Westminster and Edinburgh to local communities

Mr Brown's proposals are being submitted to the Labour Party's devolution commission, which is looking into strengthening the Scottish Parliament's powers.

Mr Brown delivered his speech in a church hall in Glasgow's East End, enabling him to recall a few gags from his days as a son of the Manse in the Dear Green Place.

But his approach was decidedly serious. The UK, he said, required to be effectively recalibrated, shedding the lingering image of solitary centralism.

That meant, ultimately, a written constitution which would set out the role of the UK in common defence, security and, importantly, welfare.

The Scottish Conservatives have also been examining the issue of increasing the powers of the Scottish Parliament.

Meanwhile, Sir Menzies, who has been tasked with finding a consensual cross-party alternative to independence, published the Campbell II report, drawing together the arguments of the other parties on devolution.

The former Liberal Democrat leader said there was growing consensus that the Scottish Parliament's financial powers should be expanded to make it responsible for raising the taxes to pay for most of the money it spends, and that the institution should be entrenched permanently.

Sir Menzies Campbell Sir Menzies Campbell has issued an update on his commission on devolving powers

Speaking in Edinburgh, the North East Fife MP said: "Today's report makes a series of rational, reasonable and indeed radical recommendations by which this reform could take place. Equipping Scotland with more powers, what I regard as an early step for a federal UK, can be done.

"2015 is the time when it should be done. To give a stable future for Scotland and the UK it must be done.

"The proposals in this report will bring people together after the referendum. It is a radical programme for change."

The Campbell II report made seven recommendations:

  • The 2015 Queen's Speech should include provisions to strengthen Scotland's powers
  • Political parties should commit to this in their UK election manifestoes
  • The UK government should look at all options to make the plans a reality
  • The Scottish government should make available its referendum research to inform the Campbell II proposals
  • The Scottish Parliament should ensure Scotland's new fiscal body can cope with further devolved financial powers after a referendum "No" vote
  • The Secretary of State for Scotland should convene a meeting within 30 days of a "No" vote to secure consensus for the devolution of more powers
  • Further devolution of tax powers should be made through a further Scotland Act

The Democrat Home Rule Commission, chaired by Sir Menzies, previously backed a substantial transfer of financial and constitutional power to Holyrood in a report in October 2012.

Scottish Parliament All of Scotland's political parties have been considering how best to enhance the powers of the Scottish Parliament

Deputy Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said of the plans: "I don't think there looks to be any chance at all of that happening.

"And, unless people know what more powers we would be guaranteed to get, whichever of these parties wins the next UK election, then how on Earth can people be expected to take it seriously?"

Ms Sturgeon added: "There's a pattern here, where the Westminster parties, when they're in a position to deliver more powers, fail to do so.

"Then, with the threat of a referendum and a 'Yes' vote, they suddenly start to decide that they're in favour of all of this anyway."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 860.

    Go or don't. Please have the vote soon. This debate is melting my brain. Simple fact. There's no real evidence of any Economic impact either way on UK. Scotland will not automatically be in EU or NATO. No real evidence that oil revenue will be certain or sustained. No reason to think Scotland can not be independent. In fact it obviously can, any country can. Under control of ms Merkel or Legarde

  • rate this

    Comment number 602.

    As long as the Scots do not have any say in Westminster over English and Welsh affairs then I really do no care how things are run in a devolved scenario. Phil #4 is correct. We have focussed for far to long on appeasing the Scots. It is time the English and Welsh were equals in their own country.

  • rate this

    Comment number 597.

    There should be a referendum in rest of UK
    1. Allow Scotland to remain in Union
    2. Expel Scotland from Union

    Too much time is being wasted on this debate, which is a purely Scottish debate as rest of UK can't take part in any decision.

    The whole oil thing is a red herring. It's not Scottish firms exploiting oil etc, in what are international waters.

    How would rest of UK vote? Go if you want.

  • rate this

    Comment number 555.

    Why can't Scots living in England vote in this referendum?

    800,000 voters disenfranchised.

    That's the real story Mr Brown. The Union is already being dismantled.

  • rate this

    Comment number 547.

    As a Scot I believe England should have its own parliament that could sit within the Houses of Parliament or a "radical idea" have it in the midlands or the North of England. All 4 countries should have the same devolved powers and the respective MPs should all be paid the same. This could allow the UK to slim down parliament as it stands along with the house of lords (who should also be elected)


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