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Last Updated: Monday, 21 April, 2003, 08:34 GMT 09:34 UK
Faith in devolution 'slumps'
The Holyrood chamber
The survey looked at attitudes to devolution
Confidence in the ability of devolution to make a difference in Scotland has dropped, according to a new survey.

The Scottish Social Attitudes survey found that few people think devolution has given the public a greater say in how Scotland is governed.

However, support for independence has only shown a small rise.

It now stands at 30%, compared to 28% who favoured that option in 1999, according to the survey the NatCen Scotland research institute.

Public confidence

At the time of the first elections to the Scottish Parliament in 1999, 70% of people thought devolution would give Scotland a stronger voice in the UK.

That figure fell to 52% at the half-way point of the first parliament, and has continued to plunge to 39%, according to statistics.

John Curtice, co-director of the survey, said: "Scotland's politicians might have hoped that with the rows about Clause 2A, the embarrassment of the Scottish Qualifications Authority fiasco and parliamentary rows well behind them, public confidence would have begun to be restored.

Saltire
Support for independence showed a small rise
"These results dash those hopes and show the scale of the task that faces all of Scotland's politicians as they try to persuade voters that the election on 1 May really matters."

There has also been a drop in the belief that having a Scottish Parliament would give ordinary people more say in how Scotland is governed.

In 1999, polls showed that 64% of people thought that would be the case, but two years later the figure went down to 38% and it has carried on falling, to 31%.

Similarly, 56% of Scots thought devolution would improve education in Scotland in 1999, but the figure halved to 27% at the time of the SQA exams fiasco in the summer of 2000.

Since then it has continued to fall further, to 25%.

However, while there may be a feeling that devolution has brought little improvement, very few believe it has made things worse.

Little change

Only 7% believe it has weakened Scotland's voice within the UK, while 6% think it has reduced the quality of Scottish education, and 4% believe that ordinary people have less say now in how they are governed.

And the disappointment with devolution has led to little change in the proportion of people who favour scrapping the parliament.

In 1999, 10% were of that view, but the figure has gone up to just 12% now.

The survey was conducted with a random sample of 1,665 adults over 18, interviewed face-to-face in their homes.


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