Devolution

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The Smith commission’s report is due for publication on Thursday morning. Its proposals are likely to act as a hinge in Scotland’s devolutionary process, dividing discussions into pre- and post-Smith eras. In this new e-book, fellows of the ESRC Centre on Constitutional Change consider some of the issues that policy makers will need to tackle in the post-Smith era and comment on whether they are likely to have the tools to do so.

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Much of the debate since the referendum has focussed on which additional powers are likely to be devolved from Westminster to Holyrood. Rather less attention has been paid to the likely impact on the Scottish economy of devolving any of the powers that have been suggested. At the time of writing, the details of the Smith proposals are not known but we can safely assume that he is unlikely to support either the most modest or the most-far-reaching of those put forward by the participating parties.

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The critical choice for the Smith Commission and any subsequent political negotiations over devolution in Scotland and beyond, is between:

  • A Union based on a rationale of separation, where ‘sharing’ of power across the UK at Westminster will require to be justified on an on-going basis in terms of effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy

or

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Many people have interpreted Gordon Brown’s comments prior to the referendum, as well as the so called “Vow” made in the Daily Record, as some commitment so “Devo Max”. My submission to The Smith Commission on further devolution for Scotland assumes that we are indeed aiming for the maximum level of devolution possible, and asks where this must fall short of the common understanding of Devo Max.

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