Ben Thomson’s letter to the Herald


Several politicians and commentators, Andrew McKie being the latest (“A pick’n’mix referendum must not be on the menu”, The Herald, January 16), have put forward the false premise that a clearly defined third option as an alternative to independence or the status quo has yet to emerge.

In fact, Reform Scotland published last September Devolution Plus, a fully researched and detailed proposal that would give the Scottish Parliament control over sufficient tax and borrowing powers to meet its spending commitments, removing the need for the block grant.

Specifically, Devolution Plus would leave Westminster with responsibility for VAT and National Insurance and devolve most other taxes to Holyrood, where the majority of expenditure takes place. In addition, Devolution Plus sets out a proposal for transferring to Holyrood additional powers over social protection, including welfare benefits.

The fundamental defect of the current devolution settlement is the lack of financial responsibility it gives the Scottish Parliament. Of course, one way to remedy this would be independence.

However, Devolution Plus is a credible and fully thought through third option that seems to be in tune with what opinion polls suggest most people in Scotland want.

We believe it is the best way forward and that it should be a central part of the debate on Scotland’s constitutional future.

Ben Thomson,

Chairman, Reform Scotland,