Labour

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This page relates to policy After a No Vote.

FOR THE UNION FOR INDEPENDENCE

Labour proposed in March 2014 further devolution after a No Vote as outlined in a report from its Devolution Commission[1].
In addition, on 8th September Shadow chancellor Ed Balls pledged that "as Chancellor in the next Labour Government, I’ll oversee a further and big transfer of financial powers from the Treasury to the Scottish Government[2]".

Gordon Brown's list of powers

In a restatement of Labour's proposals on 8 September[3] Gordon Brown, after outlining a timetable for action on further devolution which the other unionist parties agreed to support, he listed 12 powers which Labour would propose be devolved:
1. Job creation: full devolution of the Work Programme to Scottish local authorities to meet the needs of jobs market

2. Transport: devolution of railway powers to facilitate a “not for profit” option for the ScotRail franchise.

3. New borrowing powers for economic and social investment of £2.2 billion.
Gordon Brown.jpg
Reuters

4 Land use: full devolution to local councils of the Crown Estate’s responsibility for the seabed and foreshore

5. Social care: Attendance Allowance for severely disabled people or those aged 65 or over who need help to be devolved. Over 140,000 people receive Attendance Allowance in Scotland.

6. Housing benefits: Over 400,000 households in Scotland get Housing Benefit, 12.3% of DWP benefits expenditure in Scotland.

7. Employment: responsibility for administration of employment tribunals, including charging arrangements.

8. Health and safety: a Scottish Health & Safety Executive to set enforcement priorities, goals and objectives.

9. Equality: Enforcement of equalities legislation.

10. Constitution: confirming the Scottish Parliament as an irreversible part of our constitution.

11. Elections Administration and order-making. The UK Parliament would remain responsible for UK General Elections and European Elections.

12. Income tax. Further devolution of tax powers, particularly in the sphere of income tax. The biggest transfer of fiscal power in the history of the UK


References

  1. Powers for a purpose - Strengthening Accountability and Empowering People Scottish Labour Devolution Commission. Briefly, the report proposed:

    Constitution

    The Scottish Parliament should become permanently entrenched in the constitution and indissoluble. Responsibility for Scottish Parliamentary elections should be devolved to the Scottish Parliament. There should be statutory obligations on both administrations to cooperate.

    Tax

    Labour would give the Scottish Parliament the power to raise around £2 billion more in revenues beyond the recent Scotland Act, so that it raises about 40% of its budget. The Barnett formula grant would be reduced accordingly. Labour would widen the power to vary income tax from 10p to 15p. The Scottish Parliament would be able to increase the rates of tax in the higher and additional bands, but without the risk that a Scottish Government could force tax competition within the UK by cutting only the top rates.

    Benefits

    Housing Benefit and Attendance allowance should be devolved.

    Other devolution

    Among other matters, there should be a separate Scottish Health & Safety Executive and wider powers over the rail system.

    Local government and the Crown Estate

    Labour would embrace the principles of double devolution and subsidiarity. This means a willingness to devolve powers to local authorities, especially to Shetland, Orkney and the Western Isles . The Crown Estate should be accountable to the Scottish Parliament in respect the development and management of the seabed and foreshore.

  2. Shadow Chancellor blog: With a No vote Scotland can have the best of both worlds – my Daily Record article 8 September 2014 (retrieved same day)
  3. Daily Record: Gordon Brown's 12-point plan for Scotland by Torcuil Crichton 8 Sept 2014 (retrieved 9 Sept 2014)

Gordon Brown, when he spoke later the same day, made no mention of Ed Balls' proposals for "a further and big transfer of financial powers from the Treasury".

Gordon Brown's list of powers

Comments on an Independence-supporting website[1]included these:

3. New borrowing powers for economic and social investment are happening anyway.

4. New powers over land use: the Scottish Government asked for devolution of Crown Estates back in 2011. It was refused. So this would appear to depend on the election of a Labour UK government

6. New powers over housing benefits: there’s no realistic chance of housing benefit actually being extricated from Universal Credit in just one part of the UK.

7. New Employment rights: there is little/no difference between employment law in England and Wales and Scotland”.

8. New Health and safety powers: the devolution document stated that “full devolution of health & safety on the Northern Irish model would not be appropriate for Scotland” so the new “executive” would be a talking shop.

9. New equality powers: no explanation of why such powers would need to be devolved.

10. New Constitutional powers: no government can bind the hands of its successors.

11. New powers for elections: We don’t have that already?

12. More tax powers: the “increased devolution” will instead make the Scottish Government responsible for collecting its own income taxes. The Office of Budget Responsibility has explained how “the block grant from the UK government to Scotland will then be reduced to reflect the fiscal impact of the devolution of these tax-raising powers."

On the original Labour tax proposals, Reform Scotland said the new income tax and housing benefit powers equal only 26% of total spending, "only marginally more" than the 22.5% already in place for 2016 under the Scotland Act 2012[2]

References

  1. Wings Over Scotland: A list of nothing 9 Sept 2014 (retrieved the same day)
  2. Guardian Scottish Independence Blog: Scottish Labour's income tax confusion leaves relaunch dented 23 March 2014