Thursday, 10 March 2011

Let the people decide?

A BACKBENCH Conservative MSP has broken party ranks and called for a referendum before any extension of Holyrood’s tax powers.  

Margaret Mitchell, list MSP for Central Scotland, said the public had a “democratic right” to decide whether Westminster transfers extra fiscal powers, including those on income tax, to MSPs.
Her amendment will be debated today when MSPs consider their response to the Scotland Bill currently passing through Westminster, which will expand Holyrood’s income tax powers.
Mitchell’s call for a referendum is at odds with the position of Tory leader Annabel Goldie and Prime Minister David Cameron, who want new powers devolved without a plebiscite, as they flow from the cross-party Calman Commission.

The broad wording of Mitchell’s proposal means it could receive SNP support, as it leaves the door open to a referendum on full “fiscal powers” for Holyrood, not just those on income tax.  

Here's the Pro-Calman motion - note it's been endorsed by Annabel Goldie
*S3M-8114 Iain Gray: Scotland Bill - UK Legislation—That the Parliament agrees that, further to motion S3M-7550 passed on 9 December 2010 supporting the general principles of the Scotland Bill as introduced in the House of Commons on 30 November 2010, the Bill be considered by the UK Parliament; invites the UK Government and the UK Parliament to consider the amendments and proposals made in the report of the Scotland Bill Committee, and looks forward to considering any amendments made to the Bill with a view to debating them in a further legislative consent motion before the Bill is passed for Royal Assent.
Supported by: Annabel Goldie*, Tavish Scott*

And here's Margaret Mitchell's amendment:

S3M-8114.2 Margaret Mitchell: Scotland Bill - UK Legislation—As an amendment to motion (S3M-8114) in the name of Iain Gray, after “Committee” insert “together with the proposal that a nationwide referendum be held in Scotland on the fiscal powers of the Scottish Parliament on the grounds that the public has a democratic right to decide whether to transfer powers such as income tax from MPs to MSPs”.

Not exactly singing from the same hymn sheet.

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