Gordon Brown’s Devo Timetable unconstitutional according to House Of Lords.
In an act of desperation the NO campaign pushed Gordon Brown to the fore to announce a timetable for what they call “more powers” in the event of a NO vote. This supposedly iron clad timetable does not include at any point a second referendum that allows for the people in the rest of the UK to vote on whether Scotland should be granted more powers.
However research from Business for Scotland has identified that according to the House of Lords Select Committee on the Constitution, 24th Report of Session 2010–12, Gordon Brown’s cobbled together timetable would be unconstitutional.
Let’s be clear, the House of Lords’ report states categorically that any further powers for Scotland should be subject to a UK -wide constitutional process, including the possibility of a UK-wide referendum. This means that the massive pool of MPs representing London and the South East, who benefit most from the union, effectively get a veto on whether or not to reform it.
Ironically, just as honest attempts to reform the Westminster voting system and second chamber descended into dissatisfying fudge, so would further devolution for Scotland and Gordon Brown’s panicked announcement of an iron clad timetable disintegrate within days – much like most of the scare stories of the NO Camp.
Excerpt from the House of Lords’ report:
44. The different constitutional outcome of “devolution max” requires a distinct constitutional process for its achievement. As illustrated by the potential for competing tax regimes within the United Kingdom, such an arrangement for one member of the Union would necessarily have real, deep and immediate consequences for the other members and for the Union as a whole. Properly to secure the legitimate interests of each and all, proposals as to “devolution max” would first have to be developed through intergovernmental negotiations conducted, not just bilaterally with the UK Government, but on an inclusive, multilateral basis across the Union state.
45. Whereas both the UK Government and the Scottish Government have recognised that independence is a Scottish question, “devolution max” is not. Proper constitutional process requires that negotiations involving all parts of the United Kingdom precede any referendum on an agreed scheme of “devolution max.”
This was reported at the time that further devolution would require a UK wide referendum. The media seem to have largely forgotten this rather large constitutional barrier to more powers.
The media have labelled Gordon Brown’s timetable as a Devo Max offer but that is not an accurate description, it is more like Devo Lite but it still must be put to the Westminster Parliament and House of Lords, and to the people of the rest of the UK, before it is offered to the people of Scotland.
We can reasonably conclude that there can be no guarantee of more powers or any trust in the promises of the NO camp when the rest of the UK get to veto any offer. The timetable is not iron clad; it is shrouded in uncertainty. It is this very problem – “that Devo Max cannot be delivered at all” that the Westminster parties fought tooth and nail to keep it off the ballot paper.
This problem is growing by the day but it is going largely unreported by the Metropolitan press. William Hague standing in for the PM at Prime Minister’s Question Time said “Fast tracking devolution for Scotland was not Government policy”. They say one thing to the people of Scotland and quite another at Westminster – how can anyone believe a word they say?
Reported in The Herald today:
Mark Field, Tory MP for the City of London:
“We don’t know quite what exactly devo-max type powers have now been offered as a last-gasp attempt to ensure the UK stays together. It really is an appeasement to a large extent to the SNP but this short-termist thinking is no way to conduct what is fundamental constitutional change within the UK,”
Questions must be asked of the No Campaign:
Where in the timetable is the referendum on more powers for Scotland that gives the rest of the UK a veto?
If there is not to be one then are they aware that the House of Lords’ report states that it would be unconstitutional?
If what is on offer is not Devo Max and requires no UK veto, is it just the fudged offer of uncertain and non-guaranteed more powers offered and rejected by the Scottish people earlier on in the year?
The people of Scotland deserve the truth – the No campaign must be asked to state clearly to the people of Scotland that this offer is nothing new – it is not Devo Max and there are no powers guaranteed; it is just a cynical spin doctoring exercise on a failed policy from a failed campaign.
A quick examination of the powers on offer demonstrates that even if you added up all the powers from all the Westminster parties that’s absolutely no more than 30% of the powers Scotland needs to grow our economy to protect our NHS, to create jobs for the young and unemployed, to invest in Scotland’s future and avoid the damaging impact of austerity. Whereas independence grants the people of Scotland 100% sovereignty and the power required to begin the journey to creating a more prosperous, sustainable, fairer and more confident Scotland.
The No Campaign’s last ditch attempt to dress up mutton as lamb has failed spectacularly and the Scottish people have no choice but to doubt anything and everything the say right up to the yes vote on Thursday 18th.
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