Smith Commission overwhelmed by 6,000 visions for Scotland

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Individuals and organisations representing civil society have submitted 6,000 comments to Lord Smith of Kelvin, 10 days before their deadline

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22nd October 2014 by Susan Smith 2 Comments

Lord Smith of Kelvin

Lord Smith of Kelvin

The commission tasked with coming up with a plan for more powers for Holyrood has been overwhelmed with ideas from civil society more than a week before the official deadline for responses.

Nearly 6,000 submissions from individuals and organisations including voluntary groups, trade unions and faith communities have already been sent to Lord Smith of Kelvin, who is leading the commission.

However, as the commission met with the representatives of Scotland's five main political parties this week, many of the country's biggest civil society groups were still finalising their input.

It is vital that politicians don’t rule anything out until they’ve digested everything that has to be said - Martin Sime

Martin Sime, chief executive of the Scottish Council for voluntary Organisations, which has not yet sent its final response to Lord Smith, urged the commission and politicians not to make any decisions behind closed doors until they have heard everything civil society has to say

“It’s clear the strength of feeling within civil society is enormous,” said Sime. “With 6,000 individuals and organisations already submitting information to Lord Smith, it is vital that politicians don’t rule anything out until they’ve digested everything that has to be said.”

Last week the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC), Church of Scotland, National Union of Students and Electoral Reform Society Scotland all joined SCVO in calling for the commission’s report to be reviewed by a citizen led process before any final decision is made.

Bodies that haven’t yet submitted information to Lord Smith can do so at until 31 October.

23rd October 2014 by Lorna Cox

Dear Lord Smith In the referendum for Scottish Independence 45% Scots voted ‘YES’ for full autonomy. According to the Lord Ashcroft poll a further 25% of NO Voters voted for the so-called ‘Vow’ by 3 main Westminster Parties which promised Devo-Max which is widely understood to mean all decision making powers coming to the Scots government with the exception of defence and foreign affairs. The Scottish people should also have a constitution which legally protects the existence of the Scottish Parliament their powers and the rights of our citizens.We should have ‘powers for a purpose’. These powers should enable the Scottish Parliament to create jobs and tackle inequality, it needs more than control over one or two taxes. It needs control over the range of taxes, both personal and business. It needs control of key economic levers like employment policy. It needs control of welfare policy and the minimum wage. The package of powers that is agreed needs to reflect the fact that interactions between different powers matter as much as the individual powers themselves.Below is a list of all powers that could reasonably be devolved without adversely affecting the rest of the UK. I have put a tick against those which I think are cost effective to be devolved and allow the people of Scotland to have control over their particular social and economic needs and allow our Scottish Parliament to operate fully in the interests of the residents of Scotland.Representation in EU committees We need Scottish representation at the table on all committees and commissions in the European Union. Many EU landlocked countries have higher representation on Fisheries Commission than Scotland who has a large fishing industry.Control over welfare, benefits & pensions The Scottish Government are best placed to decide on welfare and benefits policy in line with specific needs of Scottish residents.The Scottish Parliament should be responsible for all domestic expenditure. The Scottish Government should be in control of all Scottish institutions and spend according to their particular needs in any particular time.Full control over the regulation, collection and spending of taxes. The Scottish government must be in control of setting, collecting and spending the revenues from the following taxes: Income Tax, National Insurance Corporation Tax, Capital Gains Tax, Air Passenger Duty, Betting & Gaming, Fuel, Alcohol, & Tobacco Duties , Excise Duties, Vehicle Excise Duty Climate Change Levy and Scottish Oil & Gas tax revenues. Personal taxation helps The Scottish Government address poverty via progressive tax system. Full control of tax raising and spending allows The Scottish Government to tailor economic policy to suit unique make up of Scots economy, provide incentives to grow and reduce burden on struggling businesses.Borrowing powers A Scottish government framework for public finances including the necessary borrowing powers. This will allow the Scottish government to manage any temporary deficit year on year so that there is minimal impact on public spendingRepresentation at the Bank of EnglandScots Legal System must deal the following areas which are currently reserved The Scots legal system is already in existence, so this would have no cost implications.The ability to devolve power further to local councils National debt The Scottish government should take its share of UK debt accrued up until the point at which it assumes fully devolved economic powers. After the implementation of devo max Scotland should only be responsible for the debt that Scotland alone incurs.Ability to determine the status of our essential services and suppliers The status and regulation of postal services, Electricity, Oil and gas, Coal, Nuclear energy, Renewable/green energy, Road transport, Rail transport, Marine transport, and Air transport should be the responsibility of the Scottish government, which can manage those institutions in accordance with the needs of the Scottish economy and peopleControl and regulation of the Crown Estates The Crown Estate has a fundamental misunderstanding of the needs and interests of local communities and indigenous industries on the Scottish coast. At worst, it behaves as absentee landlord or tax collector which does not re-invest to any significant extent in the sectors and communities from which it derives income.Elections and franchise Administration of all elections and determination of franchise terms and electoral systems. Our recent referendum allowed 16/17 year olds to vote and this was very successful and allowed a key section of society to become politically engaged and have a say in their future.Yours faithfullyLorna Cox

24th October 2014 by John Cassidy

Full Fiscal Autonomy and repeal of Scottish Parliaments dependence on Westminster , repeal of Scotland ACT 1998 ?