Yesterday, the commission on Scottish Devolution published its final report.
The report has in it recommendations which undoubtedly will have ripple effects in relation to the future of Northern Ireland.
At the centre of the debate, to which the report alludes, is ‘how much and what fiscal autonomy should be given to devolved government?”
In an article written about the report the Times highlights the flaw that exists in the present system.
“Successive administrations had been more celebrated for the way they spent taxpayers’ money than for the efficiency with which they managed their budgets. Having the power to invest an annual block grant of £32 billion, without the responsibility for raising the tax, was always a one-sided bargain”
In other words, there is no democratic accountability. Unless an administration has the responsibility to raise all the money it spends, it can always blame central government for not providing enough revenue if services fall short. It can also hide behind central government if there is a problem with the economy generally since it is not responsible for fiscal or monetary policy of any kind.
The report recommends that Scotland should have more power to raise and reduce taxes but subject to some control mechanisms retained by central government. The Times summarises the recommendation as follows:
“A Scottish government would be free to follow the spending pattern laid down by the Chancellor of the Exchequer but if it chose to cut taxes, it would be forced to reduce public spending. If it raised taxes, it would have to explain why”
Does the proposal give away too much or too little power? Is this a stepping stone towards the breakup of the Union or will it create greater harmony in the Union? (Alan Cochrane writing in the Telegraph suggests the report goes in the right direction for the Nationalists). What are the implications of the proposals for Northern Ireland’s future? Should Northern Ireland be denied the power to raise taxes until sectarian politics is out of the system? Those are questions for a future post.
Filed under: Devolution, Scotland, sectarianism, Stormont, taxation | Tagged: Barnett formula, Conservative Party, Devolution, Northern ireland, Northern Ireland politics, Power Sharing, Scotland, sectarianism, Stormont, taxation, United Kingdom | Leave a Comment »