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Devolution poll

Brian Taylor | 12:39 UK time, Monday, 29 June 2009

Some intriguing suggestions as to public attitudes from our poll, commissioned by BBC Scotland to mark a decade since devolution.

Looks like Scots want Holyrood to run the show when it comes to domestic issues - even those that are currently reserved to Westminster.

But there's an obvious exception: defence and foreign affairs.

Views flip over when it comes to that sector with people in Scotland seeming to favour Westminster control.

No surprise that folk fancy Holyrood control over the health service: it's already devolved.

At the very least, it would seem to confirm support for the settlement in that field.

But how about income tax and pensions? Tax is almost entirely controlled by Westminster at the moment - with the exception of the never-used 3p variation. Pensions are wholly reserved.

Yet by margins of around two to one in each case respondents to our poll indicated their preference for Holyrood control.

John Curtice, the wizard of the figures, says this is in line with previous comparable findings which suggest, among other things, that Scots might be inclined to go further than Calman when it comes to transferring new powers to Holyrood.

They may not want to make changes to, for example, pensions and social security provision. But they appear to want such matters run from Edinburgh.

However, that pattern goes into reverse when it comes to defence and foreign affairs.

By a clear margin, Scots favour those decisions remaining with the UK Government at Westminster.

And there's more. Asked to choose between independence, devolution with no tax powers and the Calman-style option of devolution with some tax control, Scots seem to go for "more powers".

But, if a devolved Parliament with more powers is to be put forward, respondents to our
poll reckon this should only happen after a referendum.

Aha, the SNP will undoubtedly say.

That adds to the case for putting Calman to the test in a referendum alongside the independence option.

Among earlier broadcast findings, confirmation that Scots mostly feel Scottish rather than British, a feeling that Holyrood has given Scotland more clout in the UK and continuing disquiet about Scottish spending levels.

More tomorrow.

NB: The poll was conducted for BBC Scotland by ICM. They interviewed 1010 people between 22 and 24 June.


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