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It's just the start

Brian Taylor | 12:32 UK time, Tuesday, 25 May 2010

With a sentence in the Gracious Speech, the Calman process is reinvigorated.

Her Majesty's (new) government proposes to implement Sir Kenneth's plan.

I was struck by the sentence immediately preceding: in which it was stated that HMG would work with the devolved administrations.

In part, that was designed as a prelude to the three devolved offers: Calman for Scotland, a referendum on further powers for Wales and efforts to sustain and foster the devolved settlement in Northern Ireland.

But it was more. Ministers in the UK Government intend, if they can, to implement Calman in tandem with the Scottish government.

Could be a challenge. Alex Salmond and other SNP ministers have spoken out in the past against the Calman tax proposals which, they believe, could give Scotland the appearance of power but without the tools (such as control over allowances, starting rates and differentials) to effect real change.

Plus there is a definite limit to this offer of co-operation. The UK government does not intend to reopen Calman entirely in consort with the Scottish government.

Borrowing powers

With a Bill due in the autumn on the topic, the UK Government's starting point will be the final Calman Report.

Not, incidentally, the White Paper prepared by the previous UK administration.

I interpret that as meaning that elements of that White Paper may disappear.

For example, the suggestion that the use of borrowing powers for Holyrood should be linked to an automatic increase in Scottish taxation.

More to come. Much more.


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