A think-tank report said that a centralized state in England might no longer be fit for purpose in three respects: economically; in the delivery and improvement of public services; and politically. The report called for a phased programme of decentralization over ten years, built on cross-party support, with economic development and public service delivery passed to combined authorities, local authorities, and other public bodies as they were ready to assume them, and with fiscal devolution.
Source: Ed Cox, Graeme Henderson, and Luke Raikes, Decentralisation Decade: A plan for economic prosperity, public service transformation and democratic renewal in England, Institute for Public Policy Research North
A think-tank paper examined the prospects for regional devolution, taking the Greater Manchester area in the north of England as a case study, and arguing that a new Greater Manchester assembly should be given fiscal powers and complete financial devolution within five years.
Source: Phillip Blond and Mark Morrin, Devo Max – Devo Manc: Place-based public services, ResPublica
A new book examined sixteen questions that were considered to be central to the debates regarding Scottish independence from the United Kingdom.
Source: Charlie Jeffery and Ray Perman (eds), Scotland's Decision: 16 questions to think about for the referendum on 18 September, Birlinn
A report by a committee of MPs said that the forthcoming referendum on Scottish Independence would have an impact on all United Kingdom citizens and businesses, and concluded that the economic interests of Scotland would best be served by remaining part of the UK. The committee had taken evidence on issues within the business area of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and said: that there was no certainty that breaking up the UK single market would have economic benefits; that the United Kingdom and Scottish governments should publish their legal advice on the status of Scotland and the European Union; that there was uncertainty about the provisions for a Scottish currency and that, given the UK government's views on currency union, the Scottish government should now set out its plans for an alternative system; and that charging non-domiciled United Kingdom students attending Scottish universities would be incompatible with European Union membership. The report also discussed research funding, and raised a number of questions about proposals for Scottish postal services.
Source: The Implications of Scottish Independence on Business; Higher Education and Research; and Postal Services, Fourth Report (Session 2014ï¿½15), HC 504, House of Commons Business, Innovation and Skills Select Committee, TSO
The Wales Bill was given a third reading. The Bill was designed to make changes to the provisions for elections to, and membership of, the National Assembly for Wales; to provide for a referendum on whether the Assembly would assume control of an element of income tax and set a tax rate for Welsh taxpayers; to devolve stamp duty land tax and landfill tax to the Assembly and allow other taxes to be devolved by later mutual agreement; and to give borrowing powers to the Welsh Ministers to fund capital expenditure, and extend the provisions for short-term borrowing.
Source: Wales Bill, Wales Office, TSO | Debate 24 June 2014, columns 222-289, House of Commons Hansard, TSO
A think-tank paper said that the Scottish National Party's proposals for Scottish independence were 'unrealistic' in key areas of currency, fiscal and monetary policy, and European Union membership.
Source: Toby Fenwick, Scottish Independence: A political and economic appraisal, CentreForum
A report by a committee of MSPs examined issues relating to Scotland's membership of the European Union following independence. The report examined evidence on three themes: an independent Scotland in the European Union; the road to membership and Scotland's representation in the EU; and small states in the EU. The committee concluded that the balance of evidence supported the principle of post-independence membership, and the evidence on the value to small states had, overall, been positive. It said that, although the debate had been furthered by the report, the committee also recognized the concerns of some witnesses regarding the lack of certainty about the process for membership, the complexity of the process, and the demanding timescales, as well as the contrasting views of some regarding the use of Article 48 as a legal route to membership, and the idea that membership could be agreed within eighteen months.
Source: Report on the Scottish Government's Proposals for an Independent Scotland: Membership of the European Union, 2nd Report 2014, SP Paper 530, Scottish Parliament European and External Relations Committee
A report by a committee of MPs said that an independent Scotland was unlikely to have its application to join the European Union accepted within the timetable, or with the terms, that the Scottish Government was proposing. It said that Scotland would have an interim period outside the European Union, with uncertain interim arrangements. The committee said that the Scottish Government's view that Article 48 of the Treaty on European Union could be used to provide for Scottish membership was not supported by any other EU state, senior EU figures, or the United Kingdom Government (which would, under this process, have to initiate it). The report warned of possible consequences in policy areas such as student fees, criminal justice, and VAT, and the loss to Scotland of the UK's EU budget rebate. It said that the Scottish Government needed to provide Scottish voters with a more realistic alternative perspective of how joining the European Union would be achieved, and what its likely terms and timetable would be.
Source: The Referendum on Separation for Scotland: Scotland's membership of the EU, Twelfth Report (Session 201314), HC 1241, House of Commons Scottish Affairs Select Committee, TSO
A report examined economic, social, and political motivations in the Scottish referendum debate. Drawing on a survey of people in Scotland, it said that support for independence was related to a wide variety of economic beliefs and preferences, including beliefs that independence would bring better debt and inflation outcomes, but risk aversion shaped voting intentions. The report said that males had higher levels of support for independence than females, older age groups showed lower levels of support, and those born in Scotland were twice as likely to support independence than residents who were born elsewhere in the United Kingdom.
Source: David Bell, Liam Delaney, and Michael McGoldrick, Citizen Preferences for Constitutional Change in Scotland, University of Stirling
A report by a committee of peers said that in the event of a vote in favour of Scottish independence, the United Kingdom would retain its existing international status and institutions, and that an independent Scotland would be a new 'successor' state. The committee said that this would have significant implications for negotiations about independence following a 'yes' vote and would affect how assets and liabilities would be apportioned, with certain assets apportioned in accordance with legal principles and other assets and liabilities subject to political negotiations. The report discussed arrangements for the period between the vote and subsequent independence, and the need for United Kingdom legislation to end the United Kingdom's jurisdiction over Scotland. It said that there would be no constitutional or legal necessity to adhere to the Scottish Government's proposed timetable of independence in March 2016.
Source: Scottish Independence: Constitutional implications of the referendum, 8th Report (Session 201314), HL 188, House of Lords Constitution Select Committee, TSO
A survey of Scottish businesses examined views on the independence debate, including views on: the issues that firms found important; their perceptions of potential risks and opportunities; options regarding currency arrangements and European Union membership; and views on whether the Scottish Parliament should be given greater powers. The report said that the independence issue was important to businesses, but that the quality of the debate was considered poor. There was a strong preference to retain both sterling and European Union membership and, in the event of a 'no' vote, for the Scottish Government to be given greater powers.
Source: David Bell and Michael McGoldrick, Business Attitudes to Constitutional Change, Scottish Chambers of Commerce
An article examined the impact of devolution in the United Kingdom on social security, in the context of the powers retained by the UK government. The article also considered the implications of possible results in the forthcoming Scottish referendum.
Source: Derek Birrell and Ann Marie Gray, 'Welfare reform and devolution: issues of parity, discretion and divergence for the UK government and the devolved administrations', Public Money and Management, Volume 34 Issue 3
A new book examined the case for Scottish independence, arguing that a progressive referendum campaign in favour of independence could alter the political landscape, even if a 'no' vote ensued.
Source: Pete Ramand and James Foley, Yes: The radical case for Scottish independence, Pluto Press
A paper examined the implications of Scottish independence for the financial services industry in Scotland.
Source: Referendum on Scottish Independence ï¿½ A briefing paper for members of Scottish Financial Enterprise (SFE) on the implications for the Scottish financial services industry, Scottish Financial Enterprise
A report provided the findings from a review of the powers of the National Assembly for Wales. It said that the existing arrangements for the devolved assembly were overly complex; that there was a need for governments and institutions to work together better; and that there was broad support for further devolved powers. It recommended moving to a reserved powers model that established which powers remained with the United Kingdom central government, rather than those that were devolved. It also recommended the devolution of further powers, including: most aspects of policing; the youth justice system immediately, followed by a feasibility study for the devolution of prisons and probation; and changes in powers related to energy, water, transport, and television funding and governance. It also made recommendations to improve scrutiny and performance within the National Assembly, and to enhance the working relationship between the Assembly and the United Kingdom government.
Source: Empowerment and Responsibility: Legislative powers to strengthen Wales, Commission on Devolution in Wales
The Wales Bill was published. The Bill was designed to make changes to the provisions for elections to, and membership of, the National Assembly for Wales; to provide for a referendum on whether the Assembly would assume control of an element of income tax and set a tax rate for Welsh taxpayers; to devolve stamp duty land tax and landfill tax to the Assembly and allow other taxes to be devolved by later mutual agreement; and to give borrowing powers to the Welsh Ministers to fund capital expenditure, and extend the provisions for short-term borrowing.
Source: Wales Bill, Wales Office, TSO
A report provided the findings from the Scottish Labour Devolution Commission on how the present constitutional arrangements for Scottish devolution could be improved. The report argued that the United Kingdom was a union with interconnected economic, social, and political dimensions and said that a number of core matters should remain reserved to the United Kingdom parliament, including: financial and economic matters (monetary policy, the currency, regulation, debt management, and employment law); foreign affairs (including international development) and defence; pensions and the majority of cash benefits; the constitution; and immigration. Areas recommended for further devolution included: new rights to set variable rates of income tax (including setting a new higher rate); some benefits (such as housing benefit and disability benefits); some aspects relating to local government; and administrative control over its own electoral system.
Source: Scottish Labour Devolution Commission, Powers for a Purpose: Strengthening accountability and empowering people, Scottish Labour
A think-tank report examined whether there was a case for transferring further powers regarding welfare benefits to the devolved assemblies of the United Kingdom. It said that devolution of some aspects of welfare would require greater fiscal devolution, but could enable more joined-up policy approaches, reflect local circumstance, and improve social and economic outcomes in the devolved nations. The report suggested devolving housing benefit, the work programme, and responsibility for childcare, with levels of benefits set by the UK government as a minimum level, capable of supplement by the devolved governments.
Source: Guy Lodge and Alan Trench, Devo More and Welfare: Devolving benefits and policy for a stronger union, Institute for Public Policy Research
A report examined the Scottish Government's economic plan for independence. It said that the plan did not offer a coherent economic vision, and did not address issues of deficit reduction. It raised concerns about the uncertainty over Scotland's future relationship with the European Union, a range of potential impacts on Scottish business, and the lack of clarity over the continued use of sterling as currency. It concluded that Scotland would benefit from remaining part of the United Kingdom.
Source: The Scottish Government's Plans for Independence: An analysis from business, Confederation of British Industry