I WOULD like to propose a way though the current thicket of debate regarding future devolution of powers due to be repatriated from Brussels to the UK following Brexit.
The most recent set of powers devolved to the Scottish Parliament were determined by the Smith Commission, which was all-party in its composition and reached its conclusions unanimously.
It would seem a good idea to reconvene the commission to decide on a practical and pragmatic basis which powers would be best retained at Westminster (for example to support the UK single market on farm and fisheries subsidies and other state aids) and others which might be better devolved. As Holyrood currently has a full legislative programme, it will surely be unable to cope with new powers following Brexit, so the Commission could also consider which current Scottish Parliament responsibilities should be passed on to (or back) to local authorities.
If Lord Smith feels his work is done, I am sure that an alternative chairman or chairwoman could be found – Lord (Jack) McConnell springs immediately to mind as a former First Minister and lifelong proponent of devolution. As a member of a party that is in neither of Scotland’s governments, he would also be an honest broker.
Above all, the lesson of the recent successful resolution of the SNP’s Police Scotland VAT mess was that to get the best of both worlds, compromise is sometimes required on both sides. A new Smith (or McConnell) Commission would be exactly the right forum to achieve the agreement that Scotland needs.
Peter A Russell
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YOUR correspondent Sandy Thomson (October 31) tells us “young people on the streets of Barcelona remind me so much of the equally young Scots who voted decisively for independence in 2014”. In which case, his memory is playing tricks with him.
In fact, the British Election Survey confirmed after the Scottish referendum that both the 16-19 and 20-24-year-old age groups rejected independence in roughly the same proportions as the rest of the population.