Reform Scotland

Former Scottish Secretary calls for another Scotland Act to give powers over welfare and employment to Holyrood

Michael Moore calls for “Devolution 3.0 with a quick start menu” in Visions of Scotland speech

The Liberal Democrat MP Michael Moore, who was the Secretary of State for Scotland responsible for delivering the Scotland Act 2012, has called for the pro-UK parties to unite around a new devolved package of welfare and employment powers quickly after the independence referendum, in the event of a No vote.

In a speech to the first Visions of Scotland event, organised jointly by independent think tank Reform Scotland and Glasgow University, Mr Moore said that a further Scotland Act in 2015 or 2016 would represent the third cycle of the devolution process, and would be the logical outcome of the consensus which has already been established by the three pro-UK parties.

Mr Moore said:

“Scotland is going to be a very different political place after the referendum than the one we have been used to for the last 15 years, and the debate about more powers is becoming just as important as the debate about independence.

“As a liberal I am part of a tradition of thinking which has had home rule in its DNA for generations. It is our signature issue, but home rule has never belonged to one party. It is bigger than any single party.

“There is no clearly defined end-point for home rule or devolution. We have to make the rules up as we go along. But there is a repeating cycle. We come forward with ideas, debate them, seek common ground and then form a consensus to enact those powers and conclude that phase of devolution’s development.

“A new Scotland Act in 2015 or 2016 will be the culmination of another cycle of which we’re already in the early stages. This time, the cycle will need to be much faster in order to meet Scotland’s raised expectations.

“1999 can now be seen as Devolution 1.0, with the Scotland Act 2012 representing Devolution 2.0. It’s already time for Devolution 3.0, and this time we need a quick start menu to reach the consensus.

“The Liberal Democrat Campbell Commission, the Conservative Strathclyde Commission and Labour’s Devolution Commission started from different world-views, but they have shown there is scope to establish common ground.

“There is a basic consensus around the devolution of more income tax, for instance. And it wouldn’t be a stretch to agree on the devolution of housing benefit.

“There is also real scope on the agenda of employability and whether employment support programmes and job centres should be devolved to Scotland. A package based on devolving more income tax, housing benefit and job centres is plausible an immediately achievable.

“What I’ve described doesn’t go far enough for me as a liberal. It is not home rule. But in the interests of speed, this package would represent a substantial further step on the devolution journey.

“Our challenge is to move fast and lead, or we will find the people of Scotland have left us behind.”