Business for Scotland is today calling on all parties to seek a mandate for a new, stronger Scotland Bill in their Holyrood manifestos.
We welcome the news that the Scottish Government refused to accept the flawed and potentially highly damaging fiscal framework attached to the Scotland Bill until the deal guaranteed no detriment to Scotland. However, the Scotland Bill does not go far enough and we want to see all Scottish parties pull together to deliver a new Bill with the economic and social levers to deliver real growth and equality for Scotland.
It’s time to call Westminster’s watered down Smith Commission attempt at a Bill a failure to deliver on the devolution promises made during the 2014 referendum and to look once again at the real devolution that Scotland needs, real devolution that the Scottish people were promised and that the Scottish people want.
BfS CEO Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp said: “The fiscal arrangement stalemate was easy to foresee – in November 2014 BfS claimed ‘We are promised the best of both worlds but the Smith Commission is an unworkable constitutional fudge and the worst of both worlds’.
“We also predicted that ‘Westminster is going to try to sabotage the devolution of extra powers’ and ‘shoot down any new powers that don’t come with huge caveats’. The caveat, as it turned out, was a fiscal trap in the funding formula that could have ended up costing Scotland £3bn over a decade even after some Westminster concessions.
“Business for Scotland believes that Westminster was never serious about meeting the promises of more powers made to the Scottish people during the independence referendum and that this was obvious as early as the 19th of September 2014 when David Cameron announced his intention to introduce EVEL, and the Tories have clearly sought to attempt to cut Scotland’s budget by stealth through the Scotland Bill’s fiscal arrangements.
“We call on all parties to seek a mandate for a new far stronger Scotland Bill in their Holyrood manifestos – a Bill that meets the devolutionary needs and aspirations of the Scottish people.
“An SNP Scottish Government with a majority mandate should demand Westminster delivers the devolution to the max / near federalism / meaningful devolution we were promised by the No Campaign in 2014. If those mandated calls are rejected, then the people of Scotland may wish to re-evaluate Scotland’s continued membership of the UK.”
Ian McDougall BfS finance spokesperson and business owner added:
“At our AGM in January, Business for Scotland unanimously passed a resolution calling for the rejection of the Scotland Bill with the current fiscal agreement as it represented a major and highly damaging potential cut to Scotland’s budget over time.
“The fiscal framework was actually more important than the powers in the Scotland Bill, as the new powers are severely limited and inflexible and don’t constitute a full enough range of economic and social levers to deliver real growth and equality for Scotland.
“The limited nature of the proposed tax powers has been demonstrated by Labour’s well intentioned but entirely muddled and unworkable 1p tax rise, which provided a clear case study on how the proposed powers are unusable window dressing, and not what Scotland needs to grow our economy and address equality.”
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