Scotland politics

Ex-leader Campbell to head Lib Dems' home rule group

Sir Menzies Campbell
Image caption Sir Menzies Campbell said home rule would bring certainty

The former leader of the Liberal Democrats has been appointed to chair his party's Home Rule Commission.

Sir Menzies Campbell's role will see him set out a long-term vision "for a strong Scotland within the UK".

Last month's Scottish conference of the Liberal Democrats established the commission.

It comes in the wake of the SNP's Holyrood election victory and the promise of an independence referendum later on in the five-year parliament.

North East Fife MP Sir Menzies said: "The Scottish Liberal Democrats have an important role to play in the debate about the future of Scotland.

"Home Rule has the same significance today as it had historically and, as opinion poll after opinion poll shows, best represents the views of the majority of people in Scotland.

"Continuing partnership within the UK, and consistent with that relationship, increased responsibility for our own domestic affairs is the clearest way forward.

"Home Rule meets aspirations and brings certainty where the status quo is inadequate and independence brings uncertainty."

One aim of the commission was to examine the case for "the next step after Calman".

Sir Kenneth Calman was asked to look at how devolution was working and to make recommendations on possible new powers.

SNP 'obsession'

He produced his report in 2009 and that led to Westminster's Scotland Bill which is planning to deliver new financial controls to Scotland.

One of Sir Kenneth's main recommendations was for a new Scottish-set tax, which would still be collected by HMRC.

It is understood the Lib Dem's new commission could recommend even greater fiscal powers with the possibility of Holyrood being allowed to raise all the money that it spends.

SNP Treasury spokesman Stewart Hosie said the Lib Dems should be working with the SNP to deliver more powers for the Scottish Parliament.

"Home rule for Scotland has been the Liberal Democrats policy for over a hundred years so it is a little odd that Willie Rennie needs a commission to work out what that means," he said.

"After reneging on opposing accelerated cuts, higher VAT and increased tuition fees, people have learnt to judge the Lib Dems by their actions not their words.

"Their only contribution to constitutional change is to obsess about the SNP and block every proposal put on the table - even the ones they claim to agree with."

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