Following the recommendations of the Smith Commission, in the wake of the ‘no’ vote last year, the Government today published it’s Scotland Bill – the plans to further devolev power to Scotland. It has landed squarely in the middle of disagreement, with Reuters news agency touting it as edging the UK closer to federalism whilst Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s First Minister says it does not go far enough.
“The Smith Commission recommended the Scottish Parliament be given the power to set income tax rates and bands, but not to alter the threshold above which tax is paid.” says the BBC article and what this new bill is promising is that Scotland “will be able to set income tax rates, have some influence over welfare spending, and be given the authority to decide how the Scottish parliament and other structures are elected and run.” (Reuters)
For those studying the UK Constitution this is an excellent story – it gives leave to talk about whether Parliament in the UK really is still politically sovereign when it is having to share sovereignty with Scotland in this way (of course, legally it is still sovereign). It also raises questions over the democratisation of the UK – continuing New Labour’s pledge to democratise and decentralise seems to be the accepted path forward but a good Level 3 would discuss whether this is really decentralisation given the ‘watered down’ plans, as Nicola Sturgeon has called them.
The full document can be read here – https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/397079/Scotland_EnduringSettlement_acc.pdf