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Westminster attempts to rein in devolution

11 November 2008

The UK Government has presented its submission to the Calman Commission, outlining what it sees as tensions between Holyrood and Westminster through the use of devolved powers to "undermine" policy on reserved matters.

The main bone of contention is the SNP's opposition to the building of nuclear energy plants north of the border, which goes against the UK-wide energy policy. UK ministers have complained about the SNP's willingness to use devolved planning laws to block their plans.

Set up to review the allocation of devolved and reserved powers with a membership including nominees from the three main unionist parties, the Calman Commission is due to report next year. It is not  considering independence as an option and the SNP is not involved in it.

Westminster's submission states that it was not the intention of Parliament in passing the Scotland Act that it should be used to undermine the delivery of reserved policies and suggests the Commission consider ways in which it could be improved. It does not advocate any significant extension of devolved powers and stops short of proposing its own solutions to the issues raised.

A spokesman for First Minister Alex Salmond said the document illustrated Prime Minister Gordon Brown's inclination to "claw powers back" from Holyrood.


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