Scotland politics

Clegg 'guarantor' for new Scottish powers

Nick Clegg Image copyright PA
Image caption Nick Clegg said new powers would be delivered, despite Conservative "noises"

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has declared himself the "guarantor" in government over delivering more powers for Scotland.

At the same time, he has expressed irritation with Prime Minister David Cameron in linking the issue with English votes for English laws.

Meanwhile UK Chancellor George Osborne said Westminster ministers would soon publish a paper on new Scots powers.

SNP ministers have warned of a "backlash" if they are not delivered.

In the wake of the independence referendum "No" vote, Mr Cameron said the UK government would deliver the new devolved powers promised to Scotland, but argued that the question of the voting rights of Scottish MPs at Westminster had to be addressed at the same time.

Devolution ideas

Ahead of the UK Liberal Democrat conference in Glasgow, Mr Clegg told BBC Scotland: "David Cameron did not mention it to me when we discussed across parties about how we would join forces to make that commitment to Scotland.

"As the guarantor, if you like, in government, as the party which has the only Scottish people around the cabinet table, I can guarantee you that those powers will be delivered.

"Whatever the noises from the Conservative party and others - it will be delivered in full on time, as promised."

Meanwhile, Mr Osborne said the "command paper" on devolving further tax and spending powers, which the Westminster government had committed to releasing before the end of October, would be published within the next fortnight.

Addressing business leaders at the Institute of Directors' annual convention in London, Mr Osborne said: "There is the argument across the political parties that Scotland should have more devolution coming out of the Scottish referendum.

"I can tell you in just over a week's time, we will publish a command paper which will set out some of the ideas for further devolution for tax and spending to Scotland."

Draft legislation on new powers for Scotland is due to be unveiled by 25 January.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Lord Smith said he wanted to her the views of members of the public

However, the SNP seized on a report in The Herald newspaper, quoting an unnamed UK government minister who said Scotland would have to wait until 2017 for the full implementation of enhanced powers to Holyrood.

SNP Westminster leader Angus Robertson, said: "The vow the Westminster leaders made to the people of Scotland in the run-up to the referendum promised to deliver substantial and 'faster' new powers.

"In the event of a 'Yes' vote, independence would have been delivered in 18 months. Three years for further powers is simply not good enough.

"It is time for the Scottish Parliament to have the powers we need to make Scotland a fairer, more equal country and address the causes of inequality."

Elsewhere, the Smith Commission, which is responsible for agreeing new powers for the Scottish Parliament, will hold its first full meeting later in the month.

Public input

Representatives of Holyrood's five political parties will gather in Edinburgh on 14 October, ahead of aiming to get agreement on the way ahead by the end of November.

Lord Smith has also asked members of the public to contribute their views on strengthening Holyrood's powers before the deadline of 31 October, using the e-mail address haveyoursay@smith-commission.scot.

"The referendum showed Scotland to be one of the most politically engaged countries in the world," he said.

"The campaign transcended normal politics with passionate debate happening online, over dinner tables and in the workplace.

"Although the referendum is over the discussion has not finished; it has moved on to how the powers of the Scottish Parliament should be strengthened within the UK.

"It is vital that the political process now under way properly engages the Scottish public so that their voice is heard as agreement is sought on new powers."