Tories would review impact of Scots devolution each year

20 Apr 15

David Cameron has today pledged that a Conservative government elected next month would conduct an annual review of Scottish Government policies to ensure no area of the UK loses out as a result of decisions taken at Holyrood.

In a speech delivered in Cheshire today, Cameron said this measure was needed to ensure fairness and economic growth across the country.

Policies such as the commitment by the Scottish Government to eventually abolish Air Passenger Duty, once the tax is devolved to Holyrood under the Smith Commission plans, needed to considered for their impact on places in the North of England.

The new ‘Carlisle Principle’ – named to reflect an area of England that could be affected by decisions taken in Edinburgh – will not prevent the Holyrood government from taking decisions it wants.

However, it would require the chancellor to report to Parliament each year on the impact that devolved polices – which could also include changes to tax rates and welfare under the devolution plans – could have elsewhere. The Treasury would also be required to set out any action that would be needed to ensure there is no detriment to the rest of the country.

Cameron said that after the No vote in the Scottish independence referendum last September, the unionist side had kept its promise to boost Holyrood’s powers. 
‘We did that because as Conservatives we believe in decentralisation and decisions being taken as close to the people they affect,’ he said.

‘But as we go further in devolving powers to Scotland, we need to make sure devolution works for all the other all parts of this country too.’

The example of the proposed cut and eventual abolition of Air Passenger Duty for flights from Scottish airport showed that policies decided in Edinburgh could have an impact elsewhere, as it would make Scottish airports more competitive.

A Conservative government would commit to ensuring there are ‘no unforeseen detrimental consequences to the rest of the country from Scottish devolution for either England, Wales or Northern Ireland’, he added.

‘Under a Conservative government, the Cabinet Office and Treasury will conduct an annual review of the impact of all devolved policies on the rest of the country,’ he said.

‘It will look at what effect Scottish government policies are having: whether it’s changes to tax rates, business rates, or university tuition fees – or Scotland’s powers over energy, agriculture, transport, and public services.

‘This is about making sure we understand the impact that devolution is having, and make sure that rest of the country never unwittingly loses out.’

In his speech, Cameron also set a target for three out of five new jobs to be created outside London and the Southeast of England in the next parliament.

The Conservatives have already claimed their economic policies would help create two million new posts by 2020, and the prime minister said he wanted to ensure 60% were created outside the Southeast.

‘We will back business to create 2 million new jobs,’ he said. ‘And this is my goal – that more than 60% of these will be outside London and the Southeast. That is what we’ve done in the last Parliament.’


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