Scottish independence: Sturgeon says devolution proposals 'fall short'

Nicola Sturgeon Nicola Sturgeon said the three main UK parties lacked "a common plan" on devolution

Proposals from the three main UK parties for more powers for Scotland "fall short" of what is needed, the deputy first minister has said.

In a speech in Glasgow, Nicola Sturgeon argued that only independence would give Scotland the powers it required.

She said devolution proposals were "at best inadequate and at worst damaging".

Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael said the Scottish government needed to provide answers on a post-independence currency and on EU membership.

The Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats have set up groups to look at the options for future devolution.

But Ms Sturgeon said the three parties lacked "a common plan" for further devolution and their individual proposals would leave Westminster in charge of the bulk of Scotland's finances.

"It is emphatically not the case that the focus will shift entirely away from the independence offer.

"But, equally, it is important that the alternative proposals for Scotland's future receive a fair deal of attention - and scrutiny.

"Nicola Sturgeon decided to retaliate first - by suggesting that her opponents' ideas, both extant and emerging, fall short of Scotland's requirements.

"Now Ms Sturgeon's opponents see this speech as a form of Trotskyite Impossibilism, the customary caricature of certain positions on the Left.

"That being - set out a series of demands you know your opponents/the establishment/the state cannot meet; wait for them to fail; blame them for failure. "

Addressing the Scottish Council for Development and Industry, she said: "Neither Labour nor the Liberals nor the Tories have yet come up with final proposals.

"But, certainly in the case of Labour and the Liberals, we have a clear idea of where they will end up in the shape of the Labour interim report on devolution and the report prepared for the Liberals by Sir Menzies Campbell."

The deputy first minister claimed Westminster would continue to control almost three quarters of Scottish tax revenues under Labour's plans and two thirds of revenues under the Liberal Democrats' proposals.

She added that the measures "fall short of what Scotland needs" on the grounds of "substance, the lack of a common plan, and the absence of any guarantee on delivery."

Ms Sturgeon also said the Lib Dems proposed to end the Barnett formula, which is used to determine how much funding goes to the UK's devolved administrations, and risked creating a £4bn hole in Scotland's finances.

"The emerging proposals of the 'No' parties are at best inadequate and at worst damaging," she said.

The UK government's Scottish Secretary, Alistair Carmichael, called the speech a "diversionary tactic".

'Basic answers'

He said: "No amount of talking about the plans for further devolution is going to turn the attention away from the Scottish government's assertions, bluster and failure to provide answers to questions on the EU, on the UK pound and on independence."

He added: "On the EU, on the UK pound, on independence, Nicola Sturgeon and rest of the Scottish government are without a plan.

"Scotland is doing well because we are part of the UK, our economy is growing, the number of people in work is rising and the number of people claiming Jobseekers Allowance is falling.

"Don't let them gamble what we've got when they can't even provide basic answers on independence."

Scottish Labour's devolution commission is due to follow up its interim report with a final report next month.

Last week, Labour's shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander urged his party to "act boldly" and offer Scotland further devolved tax powers.

The Liberal Democrats set up a commission under former party leader Sir Menzies Campbell to look at proposals for "a reformed, federal United Kingdom".

In a 2012 report it said that the Barnett formula "should be replaced by a genuine needs-based assessment".

Conservative peer Lord Strathclyde is looking at his party's plans on further devolution as part of a commission set up by Ruth Davidson, the leader of the Scottish Conservatives.

In a speech last month, Ms Davidson claimed there would not be a cross-party announcement on further devolution ahead of the referendum.

The Scotland Act 2012 has given new tax and borrowing powers to the Scottish Parliament, but Holyrood will not be able to use them until 2016.

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