Page last updated at 17:16 GMT, Monday, 10 November 2008

Devolution 'threatens' UK policy

Scottish Parliament building
The Calman Commission is due to publish its final report next summer

The UK Government has claimed its policy on energy - including nuclear - risks being "undermined" by powers devolved to the Scottish Parliament.

The complaint was made in evidence submitted to the Calman Commission on the future of Scottish devolution.

The UK Government backs new nuclear power stations, but the Scottish Government could use planning laws to prevent any being built in Scotland.

The SNP accused Westminster of a "veiled threat" to claw back powers.

The submission was prepared by UK government departments - none of which recommend any significant new powers.

The Scotland Office provided comments on financial accountability and recalled the prime minister's speech to the Scottish CBI last year, when Gordon Brown called financial accountability a "problem".

The report said: "We do not seek here to provide detailed evidence on the options that might be available.

It is a blanket rejection of the clear consensus that exists in Scotland for more responsibilities for the Scottish Parliament
Alasdair Allan MSP
SNP

"The government stands ready to engage with the commission in improving the financial accountability of the Scottish Parliament."

Mr Brown's speech was taken as a sign that he favoured more taxation powers for Holyrood.

However, the same effect could be achieved by "assigned revenues" - giving Holyrood a set share of some taxes in Scotland without the power to vary these.

First Minister Alex Salmond told the BBC's The Politics Show that the UK Government seemed to be moving in the direction of assigned revenues and this would be worse than the present system.

He claimed Scotland would lose certainty and control over its revenue.

SNP MSP Alasdair Allan said the UK government's response to the commission "reeked of self-satisfied, top-down London centralism".

"It is a blanket rejection of the clear consensus that exists in Scotland for more responsibilities for the Scottish Parliament," he said.

"Indeed, in relation to planning consent for energy, there is a veiled threat to claw powers back to Westminster - potentially paving the way for unnecessary and unwanted new nuclear power stations being imposed on Scotland."

'Middle ground'

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Tavish Scott said Labour and the SNP represented the two extremes of Scottish politics, with Labour wanting no change and SNP wanting independence.

"The two extreme parties on this issue need to accept that strengthening Scotland's Parliament within the UK - a real home rule settlement - is the preferred choice of the majority of Scots," he said.

Commission chairman Sir Ken Calman said the UK government's evidence would be considered in detail alongside a wide range of other material submitted as evidence.

The Calman Commission is to publish an interim report in December, and its final report next summer.



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