Labour Voters Decide – Labour Party in Scotland is Finished – Get the Message Jackie Baillie

 

 

Message for the Unionist parties – Labour – Tory – Lib/Dem and UKIP

The Labour Party in Scotland is a busted flush unworthy of any support from the Scottish electorate. The other Westminster controlled parties are just as guilty of electoral abuse. 100 days from now Scotland should send all of the Unionist parties (each of varying degrees of blue) an unambiguous message that their dictatorial rule is at an end.

 

 

Kezia Dugdale: First Ministers Questions: Her lamentable, laboured, scripted one-liners and prepared insults, demonstrates why Labour is unfit to govern Scotland, and indeed has been for a very long time. She has learned nothing from the disastrous mistakes of her predecessors, and is locked into the same style and script. Very sad.

 


Jackie Baillie: A Director of the “Better Together” campaign gets her erse roasted in a barking-mad own-goal strewn performance during which she accuses Alex Salmond of “standing shoulder to shoulder with David Cameron” – not the most sensible accusation to pursue. The First Minister’s responses overwhelm the defenceless Ms Baillie… completely helpless and exposed, she’s outed as a Tory. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BYrOfrmJAUk

 

 
Johann Lamont: Reveals Labour Party Dogma – “Scot’s are not genetically programmed to make political decisions.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nBH55ZeZU4w Johann Lamont

 

 

 

 

29 November 2012: The public in Clydebank were provided with an opportunity to question Labour and SNP politicians. They didn’t mess around. Jackie Ballie attended and was “put to the sword” by a mainly Labour supporting audience. The anger displayed towards the Labour party was intense and is entirely relevant to the 2016 Scottish elections since the mood of Scotland is unchanged.

 

 

 
Trades Union Council – Public Meeting Clydebank – Free Tuition, Free Bus Passes, Free Prescriptions – Can We Afford Them?

Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont’s ‘something for nothing’ speech has been described as being like ‘a train wreck’ and the ‘longest suicide note in history’.

The problem for Lamont and her supporters is that the universalism of free bus passes for the elderly, free prescription charges and free tuition are very popular and people know they’re not free. They voted to pay for them through their taxes!

It is argued that there are lots of reasons why universal services are preferable to means testing such as better take-up, less admin costs, more equality and social solidarity.

Therefore shouldn’t progressive taxation – the rich pay more – be the way to fund decent public services and shouldn’t these be central to Labour’s policy rather than ditching universal benefits in favour of the hated means test?

 

 

 

The Speakers

Tom Morrison, Chair – Secretary of Clydebank TUC.

Jackie Baillie MSP – Labour

Gil Paterson MSP – SNP

Stephen Boyd – STUC

Cathy Leach – Scottish Pensioners Forum

 

 

 

 

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NFaLQT9wEBM 27 minutes: The speakers address the audience

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UKBN7mF1vx8 1 hour 36 minutes: Question & Answer session. Brilliant expose of the Labour Party in Scotland

 

 

 
Comments:

* Jackie Baillie is a disgrace. She is terrified of the SNP because they have helped people in a way the Labour Party never have. Our local hospital MRSA capital of Europe under her watch.

* It does make me laugh when Jackie Baillie wants to be honest about the NHS.

* Sooner Jackie Baillie is voted oot the better!

* All Union members in Scotland need to, must, realise that there is no Labour Party. The Labour Party of Scotland, Keir Hardie, is gone a long time ago…you have a New Labour Tony Blair creation that is aligned to Tory Policies.

* The only option is to vote for Independence and return a true Labour movement into Government in Scotland. Any other notion is just fanciful and the STUC need to get a grip and wake up to the fact that the UK Union is not serving you.

* The Labour Party are a disgrace to the name, they are just a bunch of tory infiltrators, withdraw all support to them now

* Blue tories, red tories. Scotland should be governed fully from Edinburgh. End London Rule, vote YES. The only way is up for Scotland if we remove the dead hand of Westminster.

* Who are the panel? Whit a fine Clydeside accent Jackie the Hutt has … sounds like she’s never been outside the home counties!! She is totally false!!

* Jackie Baillie probably regrettin she turned up. Great to see the good people of Clydebank telling it like it is

* When are the good people of Scotland going to see sense? We get the Government England votes for every time. It doesn`t matter how Scots vote in Westminster. We would be aswell not voting at all. This is not democracy. If Scotland votes NO in the referendum we are voting to remain a region of greater England and will be forever labelled subsidy junkies by the English even though we receive no extra money from what we contribute, we actually get less back.

* How can anyone in Scotland vote Labour? How can anyone be that stupid? Really, I mean, really get a grip…Labour are a sack of lying, anti-Scottish careerists, who couldn`t give a flying fart for anything other than their tickets out of Scotland on their way to a job in Westminster.

* Am trying figure out what Baillie and the chairperson were laughing at. They held the meeting in disregard (this can be seen @ 7mins.) Totally shocking. But the locals are pissed aff and they have my respect for tellin as it is outside the labour bubble.

 

 

 

Francesca Osowska OBE, Director, Scotland Office -A Masterclass in Evasion for the Scottish Affairs Committee

 

 

 

Francesca Osowska OBE, Director, Scotland Office

Francesca was educated in Cumbria and at Cambridge University where she obtained an MA in economics. She also received an MA in European Economics from the College of Europe in Bruges.

Having joined the civil service as an economist in 1993, her first posting was in the Employment Department in Sheffield. After brief stints in London and Brussels, Francesca moved to Edinburgh in 1997 as a government economist with the then Scottish Office.

In 1998 Francesca joined the Scottish Office education department before going on to hold posts in the education and justice departments of the Scottish Executive and was appointed Head of Sport at the Scottish Executive / Government.

Between 2007 and 2009, Francesca was Principal Private Secretary to the First Minister before being appointed, in December 2009, as Director for Culture, External Affairs and Tourism.

In January 2010, she was appointed Director for Housing, Regeneration and the Commonwealth Games in the Scottish Government and subsequently moved to the post of Director for the Commonwealth Games and Sport in January 2013.

Francesca took up her post as Director for the Scotland Office in the UK Government in January 2015.

Francesca was awarded an OBE for services to Government and the Commonwealth Games in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours in January 2015.

She has links to 33Fifty, which formed part of the Legacy 2014 National Programmes of the Glasgow Commonwealth Games The programme was delivered by the secretive  Common Purpose networking organisation in partnership with the Royal Commonwealth Society.

 

 

 

Scottish Affairs Committee Meeting 2015 – Chairman Pete Wishart – Appearance of Francesca Osowska OBE, Director, Scotland Office – Financial matters
Mr Chope: The plans for 2015-16 and we are talking today about the work of the Scottish Office, not just looking at what was happening before and there it says that there is a figure of £8 million for the 2015-16 plan, as against the out-turn for last year of £7.7 million. That is an increase of £1 million despite the fact that obviously there is no longer a referendum. What is explanation for that?

Francesca Osowska: Again, thank you for the question, because I think it does bear explanation. No, we don’t have a referendum in 2015-16, but what we do have is the continuing work of the Scotland Office to deliver on some of the events after the referendum.

You will be aware that the Smith Commission report was delivered in November 2014. There was an agreement that a draft Bill would be brought forward as soon as possible. That draft Bill was introduced into Westminster the day after the Queen’s Speech, and that legislative process, which commenced effectively on 19 September 2014, has had a great bearing on the work of the Scotland Office.

We have put resource into that to deliver in a very compressed timescale from concept to delivery of a Bill, so the resources for 2015-16 support that work; it is a key priority of the Scotland Office to deliver that Bill.

In addition, earlier in the year, the UK Treasury did have a review of the Scotland Office provision and agreed that the original trajectory of budget provision set for the office in 2010 needed to be adjusted for this fact.

Finally, in terms of the Scotland Bill specifically, as well as the staff resources that are needed to deliver it, which I have mentioned, in addition there are some costs in relation to the drafting of the Bill that add into our costs.

That is the explanation. It is also worth saying that obviously these are plans. As you will know, there is a spending review process going on at the moment. The Treasury have yet to announce departmental provision and so we don’t know whether that will be fulfilled.

 

 

 

Margaret Ferrier: The Annual Report and Accounts show that the grant payable to Scotland was increased by small increment 2014/15 over 2013/14. Excluding the impact of devolution, is the next spending review settlement likely to mean any cuts for Scotland?

Francesca Osowska: In terms of this coming spending review?

Margaret Ferrier: Yes.

Francesca Osowska: I am afraid I cannot answer that. Obviously, the Treasury are considering the spending review at the moment and they will make their announcement on the spending review in due course, and we will see what that means for the Scotland Office.

Margaret Ferrier: The Scotland Office is going to play no part, then, in the spending review process?

Francesca Osowska: No. We have had discussions with the Treasury; sorry, I should have explained that. The Treasury have discussions with all Departments in advance of them finalising their decisions.

We have obviously had these discussions with the Treasury in terms of what the Scotland Office will be doing and the Treasury will then take decisions on the most appropriate budget for the Scotland Office, and I await those decisions eagerly.

 

Mr Chope: This is about the cash reserves. Who administers the Scottish cash reserves that are created to mitigate potential volatility in tax receipts?

Francesca Osowska: Is this the mechanism by which funds are paid to the Scottish Government?

Mr Chope: Yes, £135 million in a year or something.

Francesca Osowska: Yes, the Scotland Office administers that, and that is a consequence of the 1998 Scotland Act.

Mr Chope: Do you think the Scottish Government should have more discretion over when to draw upon that Scottish cash reserve to go alongside its power to make discretionary payments into the cash reserve?

Francesca Osowska: It would not be appropriate for me to comment on whether the Scottish Government should have a more discretionary role in the procedure. However, what I can say is that, as a process, this has been in place since devolution.

All payments relating to both the block grant and changes to the grant are made to the Scottish Consolidated Fund and administered through the Scotland Office. As I said, that is a consequence of the 1998 Act.

Each month, the Scottish Government calculates the amount required to fund its various bodies covered by the grant, and the Scotland Office requests the funding from the Treasury and it is transferred to the Scottish Consolidated Fund.

Treasury is responsible for a cash management programme, which means that funding cannot be drawn down in advance of need, and I think that system has worked very well up to now.

Mr Chope: Do you think it is easily understood by the people in the United Kingdom, collectively?

Francesca Osowska: Again, I am not sure I could comment on that. I understand it, but then perhaps I am slightly more steeped in it than the average person on the street. I think the point is that it works and it works well, and if the average person on the street if there is such a thing does not understand that, does it matter? The Scottish Government receives the funding that it needs on time.

 

 

Chair: Just on this issue, there is always a fight and a fuss about perceived underspends; we have had that in the Scottish Parliament in the course of the past few weeks.

Are there any plans or provisions where this money could be carried forward if there is an underspend that has been identified within the Scottish Government budget?

It is 0.6% that needs to be taken forward. Is there any flexibility in that that would allow the Scottish Government to spend much more if there is an underspend at the end of a parliamentary session?

Francesca Osowska: In terms of any underspend by the Scottish Government and carryover, that is really a matter for discussion between the Scottish Government and the Treasury.

 
Chris Law: I want to ask some questions surrounding the future of income tax collection in Scotland, which is due to start next year. I want to know: is HMRC ready for its implementation and has it identified Scottish taxpayers, and all of them?

Francesca Osowska: My view on that and you will appreciate that I don’t want to speak overly for HMRC would be yes. We know that HMRC will be writing to those that they have identified as Scottish taxpayers, based on postcode data.

There is very good working between HMRC, the Scottish Government and Revenue Scotland. We have seen already this year the devolution of two taxes as a consequence of the 2012 Act (stamp duty land tax and landfill tax) and I think close working between the Governments allowed that to be delivered.

Indeed, on the day that the new taxes commenced, the chair of Revenue Scotland, Dr Keith Nicholson, wrote to Edward Troup, who is the Tax Assurance Commissioner for HMRC, and said, “On what is a historic occasion for Scotland, I wanted to take the time to pass on my gratitude to you and the staff of HMRC for the incredible effort and collaborative working that has been instrumental in seeing a smooth transition from the UK taxes to the devolved taxes today”.

Chris Law: Thank you. Can I ask you, what efforts have been made to ensure that Scottish businesses are ready and that Scottish businesses are fully on board?

Francesca Osowska: I can point to two strands of activity. One of the roles of the Scotland Office, as I mentioned earlier, is obviously to lead some of the engagement on behalf of the UK Government overall in Scotland.

As an organisation, we do engage regularly with the business community and we are able to by this means—through seminars, through emails, through our ongoing contacts provide this information to them. I also know that HMRC are undertaking their own stakeholder engagement and business community engagement to ensure that businesses are prepared for the change.

Chris Law: Let us suppose HMRC costs increase for example, diverging tax rates increasing through customer contact or possibly prompting people to attempt to gain the system. Which Government is going to be liable for these additional costs?

Francesca Osowska: I would need to have a discussion with HMRC and get back to you on that.

Chris Law: What preparatory work have you done for the new devolution of income tax? Is there anything that you have in place already, or have you just learned from the experience of the small devolution of the tax powers just now? What are you doing to ensure that we are going to be in a position to pick up the new income tax powers in the next few years?

Francesca Osowska: As I have set out, I think we did learn a lot, and Revenue Scotland and HMRC learned a lot, from the devolution of the previous taxes. Work continues on that basis and the Scotland Office has a continued dialogue with HMRC, who are leading on this issue for the UK Government.

We have a dialogue and asked for assurance on this work and that assurance is given. Again, if the Committee requires further information on that, we can provide it.

 

 
Kirsty Blackman: In terms of the Scottish rate of income tax coming in and the mechanism for adjusting the block grant going forward, how is that going? Has a decision been taken or an agreement been taken on the mechanism for adjusting the block grant, going forward?

Francesca Osowska: Again, I don’t want to appear evasive, but you will be aware that there are discussions being conducted between the Scottish Government and the Treasury at the moment in terms of the fiscal framework.

Those discussions are ongoing and I cannot comment any further. We know, for example, from the devolution of stamp duty land tax and landfill tax, that block grant adjustment mechanisms can be agreed and are used, and the same will be true for the Scottish rate of income tax.

 

 

Chair: How many of your staff are going to be allocated to working on the fiscal framework? What type of resource is the Scotland Office going to be putting into this whole major piece of work that we are going to have to undertake in order to ensure this is going to be done properly?

Francesca Osowska: I think it might be helpful, in terms of understanding responsibilities, to say that the Scotland Office is responsible for the overall passage of the Scotland Bill that is now going through Parliament.

We also have oversight and are interested in how all of the recommendations from the Smith Commission report are delivered. You will be aware that there were recommendations that were non-legislative recommendations in terms of inter-governmental working, for example and one of the other aspects of the Smith Commission report was to put in place a new fiscal framework to reflect the new arrangements.

Treasury leads on that piece of work. The Scotland Office’s role is to make sure that we connect the fiscal framework conversation, discussions and agreements with the legislative process.

Chair: When it comes to the fiscal framework, then, your role is to be the conduit between the legislation and work with the Treasury, and the Treasury will take the lead in putting together the fiscal framework, in partnership with the Scottish Government? Is that a rough way to look at this?

Francesca Osowska: Yes.

Scottish Office – Works For Westminster But Against Scotland

 

 

Sir David Steel

 

 

21 November 2001: Scotland Act Not Fit For Purpose and Needs to be Changed Says Lib/Dem Lord Steel

Lord Steel, the Scottish Parliament’s Presiding Officer, yesterday criticised the devolution settlement, claiming that Scotland’s institutions should have more power to act without seeking Westminster approval.

Lord Steel, who was giving evidence to a parliamentary committee for the first time, indicated that Holyrood was fettered by the Scotland Act.

He told the parliament’s procedures committee that the Act should be altered to allow Scottish institutions to be changed without the permission of Westminster.

His objection to the current position became clear when his attention was drawn to the provisions of the Scotland Act, which state that the number of MSPs at Holyrood should be reduced from the current level of 129.

Lord Steel has always disagreed with plans to cut the number of MSPs to keep the Scottish parliament in line with proposed changes in the number of Scottish MPs in the House of Commons.

He said: “There’s one problem with the position of the parliament and that’s that it is still set up under the Scotland Act and we have to go back to that if we want to introduce changes in our structure.

I don’t think in the long run that’s a sensible way to proceed. Even if we are all agreed on a sensible change here it means we have to persuade both Houses at Westminster that they have got to give up time.

I think the real answer lies in that if and when the Scotland Act is reviewed, one of the changes that should be made is that the constitution of our own proceedings should be transferred to us, full stop.”

Fiona Hyslop, the Scottish National Party spokesman for parliament, said: “Lord Steel has raised very real concerns over the shackles that are being imposed on the Scottish Parliament by Westminster.

It is absolutely essential that we reclaim control of the parts of the Scotland Act that affect the running of the Scottish Parliament.”

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1363006/Change-Scotland-Act-says-Lord-Steel.html

 

 

 

Lord Wallace

 

 

 
11 February 2002: Scotland’s Deputy First Minister Lib/Dem Jim Wallace Calls for Abolition of the Scottish Office

The Deputy First Minister, Jim Wallace, said last week that there was no longer any need for the post of Secretary of State for Scotland.

The leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats said Scottish ministers were already working closely with their counterparts in London, bypassing the need for a Scottish Secretary.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1384476/Scotland-Office-role-defended.htm

 

 

 

 

 
George Foulkes attempts to justify retention of the Scottish office

“There was a great deal of work to do in representing Scotland’s interests at Westminster despite devolution, the Scotland Office minister George Foulkes said yesterday.”

Foulkes, who acts as deputy to the Scottish Secretary, Helen Liddell, was replying to critics who said his job had been made redundant.

Foulkes said: “The Scottish Secretary is a very strong voice in the Cabinet and we are on about 20 cabinet committees and sub-committees which are determining what happens not just in Scotland, but in the whole of the UK.

We have huge amounts of Government papers to go through to make sure that the Scottish Executive is consulted as appropriate.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Role of the Scottish Office (defined by David Mundell, Sir Andrew Dunlop (Mundell’s minder, unelected peer and personal friend of David Cameron) and the Tory party: 2015)

Ensure the smooth working of the devolution settlement in Scotland. Representing Scottish interests within the UK Government and representing the UK Government in Scotland and ensure that when it comes to reserved matters (the issues that the UK Government deals with in Scotland), the people of Scotland’s voice is heard at the highest level in UK Government.

Objectives:

To strengthen and sustain the union.
To act as a custodian of the devolution settlement.
To be Scotland’s voice in Whitehall.
To represent Scottish interests within Government and support the rest of Government on UK matters.
To champion the UK Government in Scotland
To represent and advocate for the UK Government’s policies and achievements in Scotland.

 

 

 

 

 

Report by the Scottish Affairs Committee (2009) – Scotland and the UK: Cooperation and Communication Between Governments

There is a striking disparity in the size of the Scotland and Wales Offices since in many ways the roles they play are similar.

Apart from the Scotland Office incorporating the Office of the Solicitor to the Advocate-General (OSAG), which has no parallel for Wales since Westminster remains the sole legislature for Wales we would expect the staffing of the two offices to be similar. They are not.

The latest annual reports for the two show that, (excluding the OSAG) the Scotland Office has 85 staff and the Wales Office an average of 41.

The Scotland Office therefore has more than twice as many officials as the Wales Office, even though the devolution settlement for Scotland is rather more straight forward from a UK Government point of view than the Wales one. We were offered no cogent explanation for this staffing discrepancy and do not understand how it has arisen.

It is recommended that the UK Government consider with care how to deal with devolution matters at an early date, so that the machinery of government relating to devolution can cope not just with inter-governmental relations as they stand but as they are likely to become in the medium term.

 

 

 

 

 
Scottish Affairs Committee Meeting – 2015 – Scottish Office – Financial matters – Francesca Osowska OBE, Director, Scotland Office, and Michael Chalmers, Director and Solicitor to the Advocate General were in attendance

Chair: Welcome to the Scottish Affairs Committee; we are very grateful for you both coming along today. If you would like to introduce yourselves and say what you do, and if there are any initial statements that you want to make to the Committee, please feel free to use that time.

Francesca Osowska: Thank you very much. I am Francesca Osowska. I am Director for the Scotland Office and I am also Principal Accounting Officer for the Scotland Office and the Office of the Advocate General. I have no opening statement, other than that I am very pleased to appear before the Committee to answer questions on the Scotland Office and the Office of the Advocate General Annual Report and Accounts for 2014-15.

Michael Chalmers: Thank you. My name is Michael Chalmers. I am the Director of the Office of the Advocate General and the Solicitor to the Advocate General. Similarly, I have no opening statement to make but am happy to answer any questions the Committee may have.

Chair: Thank you very much. Obviously, we are here to talk about the Annual Report, which we have all digested and know inside out and back to forward, and so on. We are grateful that we are able to ask you a few questions about what is included in the Annual Report.

One of the things that struck me, perhaps you could explain to me how this works is that there are 100 staff currently employed within the Scotland Office. Is that correct, roughly 100 staff?

Francesca Osowska: Across the Scotland Office and the Office of the Advocate General, yes.

Chair: Across the estate that is operating the Scotland Office. None of them are permanent. Does that create any difficulties or problems or issues for you? I would imagine it must, and why has the decision been taken that they have no permanent staff in the Scotland Office?

Francesca Osowska: Maybe I will kick off on that and I will ask Michael to comment and give a perspective from the Office of the Advocate General. Since devolution and since the creation of the Scotland Office this has been the case: that the Scotland Office does not itself directly employ staff, but we second or take staff on loan from other Departments.

Part of that is pure economics, efficiency and practicality; to run a full scale HR system for such a small office would be inefficient. By tapping into the resources of other Government Departments for example, in the Scotland Office in London most of our staff are on loan, but we also benefit from arrangements with the Cabinet Office we can access external expertise and indeed access external HR expertise, which is effective and efficient for us.

Members of staff, once they are in post within the Scotland Office, I feel are fully part of the Scotland Office team, so if the question is about allegiance, there are no difficulties there. Michael, do you want to say something?

Chair: Just before Michael comes in, if you don’t mind, it is not about allegiance and I don’t think that is the issue. It is just being able to build up a staff capacity when none of them are permanent and most of them seem part-time.

Are they shared with other Ministry Departments or are they exclusive to the Scotland Office?

Francesca Osowska: They are exclusive to the Scotland Office.

Chair: Seconded from other Departments?

Francesca Osowska: They are seconded or on loan from other Departments. They have direct line management throughout the Scotland Office in the case of my staff, and for Michael in the case of OAG staff and they are answerable to Scotland Office Ministers, so that line of accountability is very direct.

Chair: Are there any plans to get permanent staff in place, given you have significant and substantial pieces of work to consider as we go forward in the session? Are you happy and relaxed about the current arrangements with the….

Francesca Osowska: Yes, I believe the current arrangements work very well, because we are able to bring in staff from other Departments and benefit from their expertise.

Michael Chalmers: Yes. It is similar for the Office of the Advocate General, in that what I require to run my office is staff that have public law expertise and Scots-qualified lawyers. It is a relatively small office. We have about 36 lawyers.

It helps the resilience of my office to able to draw from a larger pool. So, the Office of the Advocate General is part of an association of Government legal offices, together with the Scottish Government Legal Directorate, Scottish Parliament lawyers and Scottish Law Commission lawyers.

All of these offices together draw from the same pool of staff but, yes, as Francesca has outlined for the Scotland Office, we have staff fully dedicated to working in our office. They do not move between offices day to day; they are on a reasonably long-term secondment and that operates as quite a successful model for us because it helps the resilience of not just our office but the other legal offices I mentioned.

It also means that staff interchange and it helps their development of legal skills. In fact, adding the perspective of working for another administration is helpful as well.

Chair: How many staff does the Office of the Advocate General have then?

Michael Chalmers: We have 36 legal staff and I think it is 46 in total.

Chair: The last year, as I think we touched on, has been a particularly trying year, with lots of pieces of significant and substantial work, particularly the referendum and the Smith Commission. What do you see as the main issues and challenges and the main thrust of your work as you go forward over the next year or two years in the parliamentary term?

Francesca Osowska: Thank you for the question. Again, I will speak for the Scotland Office and allow Michael to speak for the Office of the Advocate General.

In terms of the Annual Report, obviously that sets out five objectives for 2014-15. For the Scotland Office, I think our work continues in that vein. We have a strong constitutional role, primarily in relation to the Scotland Bill, which, as you are aware, is passing through these Houses at the moment.

That is a key priority for the Scotland Office. In addition we continue to be the voice of Scotland in Whitehall, so our work with other Government Departments across Whitehall, in terms of ensuring that they appreciate the devolution settlement and that they are conscious of the Scottish context, will continue.

Similarly, we are the voice of the UK Government in Scotland and, again, we work co-operatively with other Government Departments who have reserved responsibilities in Scotland to ensure that the UK government can work effectively in Scotland.

Chair: Just before we go to Mr Chalmers, do you have any sense of the balance? I am quite intrigued by seeing that you are the voice of Scotland and Whitehall and the voice of the UK Government in Scotland.

How would you see that balancing out in terms of the commitment to either of those fine offices?

Francesca Osowska: In terms of numbers of staff?

Chair: No, not in terms of numbers of staff but about how much time or effort. Do you see yourself primarily as the voice of Scotland in Whitehall or do you see more of a role as being the voice of the UK Government in Scotland? How would you characterise the effort that is put on to each of those very laudable aims and objectives?

Francesca Osowska: I think we treat them equally. If I were to take those objectives along with our constitutional objectives which, as I mentioned, include the Scotland Bill, but also include responsibilities in terms of Scotland Act orders and LCMs—then I would say that we give those equal weight.

Chair: Mr Chalmers?

Michael Chalmers: Yes. The role of our office is to provide Scots law advice to the whole of the UK Government. Our objectives reflect that, so that includes litigation for UK Government Departments in Scotland.

It includes giving Scots legal advice to all UK Government Departments, particularly on Westminster Bills, for example but not restricted to that and also supporting the constitutional objectives that the Scotland Office shares.

Obviously that would include the Scotland Bill and legal work on the Scotland Bill but it also includes a lot of the stuff that goes on below the radar.

Francesca mentioned Scotland Act orders; so, lawyers from my office will work closely with lawyers in the Scottish Government to make sure those orders proceed smoothly through each of the Parliaments.

I suppose an example would be the section 30 order that we put through in the early part of this year to change the competence of the Scottish Parliament to allow legislation for 16 and 17 year olds to vote at next year’s Holyrood elections, so there is a lot of that sort of working below the radar that we continue to do and we see ourselves as part of the good operation of devolution and government for Scotland.

Chair: Thank you.

 

 
Financial matters – The Scottish referendum – Use of the Civil Service in support of the “Better Together” campaign

Margaret Ferrier: Looking at the 2015-16 budget for the Scotland Office it was set at £5.8 million in the 2013 spending round, but the most recent main estimate asked Parliament to approve an additional £3 million for capability enhancement. What are these additional funds for?

Francesca Osowska: In terms of the out turn for 2014-15 the total combined out turn for the Office of the Advocate General and the Scotland Office was £7.7 million. You will appreciate that that did include an uplift from the original budget setting process that occurred in 2010.

At that point, a referendum was not anticipated; a lot of the work in terms of 2014-15 has been the follow through or was related to the referendum, so the work in the run up to the referendum, contributing to the Scotland analysis papers for example, supporting Ministers as they gave public information to inform the debate about the referendum, and that explains the increase in that provision.

Margaret Ferrier: These public Ministers, are you meaning UK Ministers?

Francesca Osowska: Yes.

Margaret Ferrier: Not Scottish Government?

Francesca Osowska: No.

Margaret Ferrier: The Annual Report and Accounts show that general administration costs rose by about 8% from £7.2 million in 2013-14 to £7.7 million in 2014-15. Why do you feel the general administration costs are rising? Is there another reason, other than the referendum debate that was taking place?

Francesca Osowska: No. As I said earlier, the very initial budget was set in 2010 as part of that spending review. The referendum was not anticipated at that point and this increase represents the resources dedicated by the Scotland Office to supporting the work of the UK Government, overall, in informing the referendum debate.

Kirsty Blackman: The Scotland Office had allocated to it and spent an extra £3 million helping UK Government Ministers with information about the referendum, mainly?

Francesca Osowska: In terms of the increase, there are a number of different figures being talked about here. It might be helpful if I wrote to the Committee after this hearing to set out the sequence of events, because there were uplifts granted and changes in the Budget made from the original 2010 provision at different periods, including during the course of 2013-14, so I do not think it is entirely correct to say it was a single jump of £3 million.

In terms of what that money delivered and the outcomes that the Scotland Office delivered, I would refer the Committee to chapter 3 of the report. That sets out quite a detailed analysis of the outcomes and the outputs from the five objectives set by the Scotland Office, and certainly part of that work and a focus of that work in 2014-15 was in relation to the run-up and then the after-events—including the Smith Commission—of the referendum.

Chair: It would be helpful if you write to the Committee to explain properly what that £3.3 million did account for. What we are hearing is that this might have been the figure that was used for the referendum campaign, for the “No” campaign, and used by UK Ministers to take part in the referendum. Would that be roughly a correct characterisation of that spending?

Francesca Osowska: I don’t think it would be, if you don’t mind. What I am saying is that, if we look at page 54 of the Annual Report and Accounts, then you see the trajectory of the Scotland Office and Office of the Advocate General accounts.

You can see, in terms of general administration costs, that they have more or less been around the £7 million. That is why I feel it is important that I write and set out the explanation of the £3 million figure.

Chair: Please do.

Francesca Osowska: However, in answer to your question, Mr Chairman in relation to “Was this a way of the Government funding the ‘No’ campaign?” this was to fund the activities of UK Government civil servants, in line with the civil service code.

All activities undertaken by civil servants in my Department would meet a propriety test, yet I think you would agree that in the run-up to a referendum, obviously when Ministers want to be more visible, when we need to ensure that there is a good flow of public information for example, via the Scotland analysis papers that increases our activity and that is why there was an increase between the 2013-14 out turn and 2014-15 out turn.

 

 

Francesca Osowska OBE, Director, Scotland Office,

 

 

 

Damm, Damm and Double Damm – What a con – The civil service and their Janus-faced illegal political behaviour

Francesca Osowska in a number of her evasive statements to the Scottish Affairs Committee represented them misleadingly glossing over the expensive and extensive work of a large group of (supposedly politically neutral) Civil Servants who actively supported the objectives of the “Better Together” campaign. A gross misuse of public finances and Civil Servants presumably authorised by David Cameron and Sir Jeremy Heywood.

The matter of the Scottish Office staffing establishment drew comment but did not address the previously advised 50+ excess staffing of the Scottish Office over the Welsh Office.

So the Scottish Office has retained 50+ unjustified posts the costs of which are charged to Scotland’s block grant at a cost of around 2.5million each year.

The annual slush fund is a never reducing financial nest egg ( it is skimmed off Scotland’s block financial grant) and used, abused by the Scottish Office for purposes such as the UK government anti-devolution leaflet production, printing and distribution. Hiring of Special Advisors (SpAds), usually sons, daughters, other relations, friends of ministers or other MP’s. Temporary secondment of Civil Servants from other Government Departments.

Sir Jeremy Heywood and David Cameron

 

 

 

November 2014: Public Statement from the office of the head of the Civil Service Sir Jeremy Heywood (not long after the referendum)

The Cabinet Secretary and Head of the Civil Service Award 2014: Presented by Sir Jeremy Heywood to an individual or team who deserving of particular recognition for outstanding achievements in making a marked difference on an issue of national importance – Awarded to a group of impartial UK Civil Servants (The Scottish Referendum Dirty Tricks campaign).

http://www.civilserviceworld.com/articles/news/hm-treasury-team-wins-special-civil-service-award
Speaking for the 20+ strong Civil Service Team, Mario Pisani Deputy Director at HM Treasury said:

“In the Treasury, everyone hates you. We don’t get thanks for anything. This is one occasion where we’ve worked with the rest of Whitehall. We all had something in common, we’re trying to save the Union here, and it came so close. We just kept it by the skin of our teeth. I actually cried when the result came in.

After 10 years in the civil service, my proudest moment is tonight and receiving this award. As civil servants you don’t get involved in politics. For the first time in my life, suddenly we’re part of a political campaign. We were doing everything from the analysis, to the advertising, to the communications.

I just felt a massive sense of being part of the operation. This being recognised (at the Civil Service Awards), makes me feel just incredibly proud.”

Paul Doyle;

“This award is not just for the Treasury, it’s for all the hard work that was done by all government departments on the Scotland agenda.

The reality was in all my experience of the civil service, I have never seen the civil service pull together in the way they did behind supporting the UK government in maintaining the United Kingdom. It was a very special event for all of us.”

Shannon Cochrane;

“we’ve learned that it is possible for civil servants to work on things that are inherently political and quite difficult, and you’re very close to the line of what is appropriate, but it’s possible to find your way through and to make a difference.”

William MacFarlane, Deputy Director at HM Treasury, (Budget and Tax Strategy);

“As civil servants you don’t get involved in politics. For the first time in my life, suddenly we’re part of a political campaign.

We were doing everything from the analysis, to the advertising, to the communications.

I just felt a massive sense of being part of the operation. This being recognised (at the Civil Service Awards), makes me feel just incredibly proud.”

 

 

Labour Party in Government in Scotland – Incompetence or criminal deception

 

 

The Late Donald Dewar and the First lady of the UK

McLeish

McConnell with his pal Donald

 

 

 

 

Labour Party Accused of Cheating the Scottish Electorate

The Labour Party, assisted by the Lib/Dem’s formed the government in Scotland from the start of devolution until 2007. In that time Donald Dewar, Henry Mcleish then Jack McConnell held the office of First Minister. In this period the Labour Party in Scotland was found to be wanting in honesty and integrity. The right wing press attacked Labour questioning it’s fitness for government.

Mcleish resigned and handed over to McConnell who despite being nominated by no-one within the Party was elected to lead the Scottish government, ( a coronation). McConnell resigned in 2007, following electoral defeat by the SNP. From that time the party has been led by: Wendy Alexander, Ian Gray (twice), Johann Lamont, Anas Sarwar (twice), Jim Murphy and Kezia Dugdale.

 

 

Wendy Alexander

Johann Lamont

Ian Gray

Jim Murphy

Anas Sarwar

Kezia Dugdale

 

 

 

 

15 November 2001: The sorry saga of devolution under a Labour Government

Before we start talking about the hopes and dreams of new First Ministers, before we begin to talk about reshuffles, let us get one thing straight. And that is that some of us warned against taking the devolution road. Not once, not twice – but consistently.

That we are entitled to say “We told you so” is beyond peradventure. But I feel provoked into saying it now because everyone seems to be trying to get in on the act. By this I mean everyone who insisted that devolution would bring sunshine and light to the land. Instead, what it has brought is:

  • One First Minister’s (Mcleish) resignation because of irregularities – to say the least – about his office expenses, dating back 14 years.
  • That same First Minister, having served less than 12 no doubt arduous months, is in receipt of a pension for the rest of his life of £34,000 a year – courtesy of a grateful taxpayer.
  • His resignation unearthed a plethora of sweetheart deals between a constituency Labour Party and a melange of public authorities, charities, blue chip law firms and office equipment suppliers, all of whom appeared only too happy to make sizeable contributions towards the running of a Labour MP’s office.
  • The confession of the man who would be First Minister, (McConnell) that he had cheated (with a close working colleague) and lied to his wife.
  • The succession for the post of First Minister has been reduced to a coronation, with Labour failing dismally to arrange anything remotely resembling democracy for the nation’s pre-eminent political post.
  • Such is the strength of the lickspittle tendency within Scottish Labour that in spite of the fact that not a single Cabinet minister signed McConnell’s nomination papers, neither did even one of them have the guts to stand against him.

 

In spite of acres of guff about recent events proving the worth of devolution and of the Scottish Parliament, the bald truth – accepted by everyone who thinks seriously about it – is that the whole project has been besmirched and undermined to an incredible degree. “We are taking on the appearance of a banana republic,” said one senior nationalist who fears that devolution, never mind independence, is holed below the waterline.

He is right. Scotland has become a laughing stock. If you don’t believe me, ask a friend or relative elsewhere in the United Kingdom who witnessed Henry McLeish’s Question Time performance, or his resignation saga, or who saw Mr McConnell’s “confessional”.  The rest of Britain thinks we’re nuts. And just in case anyone should be in any doubt about it there is no joy, only worry, here even for those of us who might have wished that devolution had never been born. After all, we live here. And outsiders hold us all – however we voted in the 1997 referendum – to be equally guilty for the farce that now engulfs us.

All of which makes it all the more galling, as I said at the start, that some of those who were the most vociferous in advocating devolution as a cure-all are now trying to claim that they had always opposed it and that they had warned that home rule would see us run by second-rate no-hopers. It fairly takes the breath away.  Still, this is a minor irritant when compared to the main job in hand, which must be to restore some of this country’s battered pride and dignity. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1362425/So-far-so-bad-in-this-sorry-saga-of-devolution.html

 

It’s not over!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mundell & the Scottish Office – The Millstone Dragging Scotland Down

 

 

 

 

 

Mundell Plea – Let’s all be civil to each other

David Mundell calls for a “reboot” of the relationship between Holyrood and Westminster, and said there should be an end to the “petty politicking and sniping” between the Scottish and UK governments after the Scottish elections in May.

He cited the “extensive and collegiate” inter-governmental work carried out on issues such as the Forth Road Bridge closure and the response to the falling oil price. All this goes to show that we can and do work well together, but why can’t this be the norm for all our interactions? The problem is this positive work behind the scenes is not what gets the coverage. What does are the spats and fall-outs.”

Comment: inter-governmental work. Forth Road Bridge and falling oil price? No response as yet from Westminster. He lives in a dream world.
The SNP said Mr Mundell should match his “warm words” with real action, and that it was looking for real evidence of the UK government’s willingness to cooperate.

Comment: Mealy mouthed Mundell plea for unity is a deceptive ploy and should be treated as such.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-35348750

 

 

 

 

 

 
Examples of Mundell’s Petty Politicking and Sniping (it’s all one way traffic)

Scottish Secretary is behaving like the Governor of a colonial outpost

Would it not be more honest for David Mundell now to delete the word “for” in his official title and replace it with “against”? Once again our Secretary of State for Scotland honours us with a flying one-day visit, this time to announce his refusal to endorse a perfectly sensible visa scheme for post-graduate overseas students, which is widely supported in academic circles and has already proved successful in bringing significant economic and financial benefits for Scotland (“Outcry as Tories block work visas for overseas students”, The Herald, January 12).

It seems he is happy for our universities to collect large tuition fees from international students from outside the EU, but when they qualify and some of them wish to remain in Scotland to undertake post-graduate studies and thus contribute to the Scottish economy, Mr Mundell blocks the re-introduction of the special visa scheme which worked well in Scotland for several years until recently. What a negative and short-sighted attitude.

A few months ago in the House of Commons Mr Mundell positively revelled in opposing every one of the 40-odd proposed amendments to the seriously-flawed Scotland Bill, based on the watered-down Smith Commission proposals for increased powers for the Scottish Government. He follows the same totally negative line at every monthly session of Scottish Questions, proving that he is quite clearly the lackey of this anti-Scotland UK Conservative Government.

I can remember the day when honourable Conservative Scottish Secretaries like George Younger, Malcolm Rifkind and Michael Forsyth stood up even to Margaret Thatcher in defence of Scotland’s specific interests. But the present incumbent behaves more like the British Governor of a colonial outpost than the defender of Scotland’s interests inside the Cabinet. Yet Mr Mundell is Scottish Secretary only because he is the only Tory MP elected in Scotland, scraping home last May by just a few hundred votes. He is hardly the popular choice of the Scottish people, and is certainly not increasing his popularity by his current behaviour.

http://www.heraldscotland.com/opinion/14199490.display/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SaMNdhrpxFw The infamous Frenchgate memo. Bluff and bluster. He was complicit in the Carmichael affair.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mundell Governing Scotland with no Shame

David Mundell has been accused of governing with “no shame”, after the welfare section of the Scotland Bill passed without any amendments from Labour or SNP being accepted by Scotland’s sole Tory MP.

North Ayrshire and Arran SNP MP Patricia Gibson said welfare cuts would have a devastating impact on Scotland, accusing Mundell of being a “colossal governor-general” who presided over the Scottish people with “no shame”.

She said: “The people of Scotland would consider it unreasonable that a party that has a far weaker mandate in Scotland than at any time during any of the years in which they last had a majority government, pontificates over what powers Scotland should have, while reneging on the all-party agreement arrived at in Smith.

“The Secretary of State clearly thinks that this situation is entirely reasonable, and presides over the dispatch box like a colossal governor-general, with no shame, and takes on the elected and legitimate representatives of the huge majority of the Scottish people.

https://www.commonspace.scot/articles/1768/scotland-bill-colossal-governor-general-david-mundell-rejects-all-amendments-on-welfare

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meeting of the (Westminster) Committee for Scottish Affairs ( Chairman Ian Davidson Labour)

Mr Salmond, Scotland’s First Minister was questioned about the Scotland Bill by Committee members at a meeting in Westminster. The extract provided provides example of the attitude of Mundell to Scotland and it’s first minister. His entire persona is one of blatant hatred of anything political that is not Unionist. His post and his cronies in the Scotland Office should be removed. Scotland does not need to carry the millstone of Unionist control.

 

 
David Mundell: I think it is a fundamental part of the relationship between Holyrood and Westminster that you appear before this Committee .

Some of your critics would suggest that you have a political advantage in ensuring that there is not a good relationship between Westminster and Holyrood. What positive evidence can you put forward to rebut that particular criticism?

Mr Salmond: I think probably the most positive evidence has been that I looked for the instigation of a process of dispute resolution, of communication, of joint working between ministers, which had been in abeyance for at least five years before the Government in Scotland took office.

Over that period of time there were many celebrated disputes, some of which got into the public domain between the then Scottish Executive and the administration, despite the fact they were of the same political party.

For example, Attendance Allowance and free personal care was a particularly famous example.

A long running dispute now in terms of the Barnett consequential’s or not of Olympic regeneration of spending would be another example.

The evidence I would cite, David, is the fact that I was so keen on having this process resumed after it being in abeyance for a substantial period of time.

I think like this: I think across a range of things, and I have cited some examples, it is the job of governments, of whatever political hue, just to get on with the job and cooperate to do that, and I have given you a range of examples.

I think it is perfectly valid to have political divergences either between political parties or indeed between governments. I think it is perfectly reasonable to have them ventilated in political debate.

Could I just say to you, there are enough of these legitimate political divergences in terms of aspiration for the future constitutional status of Scotland without having to invent disagreements over other things.

It has never been my purpose to invent disagreements. On the contrary, I have been looking for resolution and cooperation, where cooperation and resolution can be found.

David Mundell: You have to concede, given your comments about parity of esteem, that some comments you have made in your capacity as First Minister of Scotland, have not been reflective of a parity of esteem from your perspective?

Whilst your memorandum indicates that UK Government has not accepted a change in relations over the period of devolution, leading to a lack of respect for Scotland’s status, surely there is plenty of evidence that you have not demonstrated a respect for Westminster and the UK Government?

Mr Salmond: If you are going to give me evidence, David, I think you had better cite it.

With parity of esteem the difficulty has been the assumptions which are still held in many areas of Whitehall that the Scottish Government, the Scottish Civil Service, the Scottish Parliament are actually another department still of the Westminster Government; but the same would apply, incidentally, to the Northern Irish and Welsh.

I suppose the concrete evidence I would put forward to say that the position is the one that we suggest, that we have been trying to find structures which would have that parity of esteem as the essence of the relationship (and the parity of esteem incidentally was implicit in the Memorandums of Understanding that were agreed at the outset of devolution; that is what they were about), is that on all of these occasions that I could cite, let us say the one I took on regeneration expenditure from the Olympic Games — not the Olympics itself but the question of the Barnett consequential’

s of the regeneration expenditure and whether the financial rules would mean that that expenditure should be Barnetted — the position of the Scottish Government is exactly the same as the Welsh administration and the Northern Irish administration, despite the different political complexions.

Basically in all of the key examples that I could cite where there is a divergence of opinion, then the divergence is not one between Scotland and Wales or Scotland and Northern Ireland, it is one that the devolved administrations normally have a divergence from the position of the Westminster Government or perhaps just the position of Westminster departments, forgetting that the political structures have changed very substantially and continue to change.

David Mundell: But those other administrations have taken a different approach to setting out their case. They have not used the media to the extent that you have. I think you would have to concede that.

Mr Salmond: Am I conceding that I use the media? Yes, occasionally I do! David, I think you use the media occasionally, do you not?

David Mundell: But not in the context of the conduct of the dialogue between the Scottish Government and the First Minister of Scotland, and the Prime Minister and the UK Government.

I think one thing that surprised many people, myself included, Mr Salmond, was that in the period of the recession nearly a year went by without you having any dialogue at all with Gordon Brown. What is the reason for that lack of dialogue?

Mr Salmond: If we take the Prime Minister’s predecessor first, the first prime minister I dealt with, the Prime Minister’s predecessor would not speak to me at all from day one of the SNP Government.

That was nothing to do with me; I was perfectly happy to speak to the Prime Minister, but I think that the then Prime Minister was upset with the Election result.

 

I am delighted to speak to the Prime Minister at any time and would love to do so on much more regular occasions.

I accept of course that the then Prime Minister has many, many competing demands, but the wish for communication from the Scottish administration and I suspect the Welsh and Northern Irish administration is very great.

That is why we have been so keen to re-establish structures which at least would set in train that process.

There have actually been two meetings about the recession with the Prime Minister and leaders of the devolved administrations. One took place last spring and the other was at the September JMC meeting where the issues of the economy and the recession were discussed in some detail.

Would it be my wish that there had been more? Yes, it would, although it should be pointed out that these are not the only inter governmental meetings.

For example, the financial take place on a fairly regular basis. I think meetings like that are extremely useful. Hence the meeting and summit on jobs that was held in Easterhouse yesterday with myself and the Secretary of State for Scotland, and crucially the people employed in Scotland, in delivering the various programmes either under the Scottish Government or the Department of Work and Pensions in terms of enabling us to accelerate recovery.

 

 

 

 

Devolution – A Diplomatic Gift From Westminster Or A Poisoned Chalice Concocted to Destroy Scotland – Part 2

 

 

1999 – Devolution – Establishment of the Scottish Assembly

Westminster politicians, across the party’s did not embrace devolution with any degree of enthusiasm. The proposal was cynically introduced by Tony Blair as an election propaganda tool designed to encourage Scottish voters to join the labour party cause, namely getting rid of the centralising Tory party in the process further strengthening the Labour Party’s political base in Scotland.

The concept of devolution was further sold by the labour party to the Scottish public as being a return to local democracy, reversing the damage to Scottish society of 13 years of Tory centralising misrule. “New Labour” would devolve control of public and economic policy to Scotland.

Voting arrangements, introducing a strange hybrid form of proportional representation were put in place by the Labour government and the Lib/Dem’s ensuring there would be a permanent coalition government in Scotland to the exclusion of the SNP and the Tory’s.

In 2003 a Commons Select Committee (see part 1) highlighted an urgent need for the UK government introduce organisational change at the centre of government, in Westminster reflecting new political relationships with the recently devolved Scottish Government.

Failure, on the part of the UK government, to identify the purposes of devolution and an agreed “terms of reference” for the newly devolved government might introduce difficulties arising resulting in a “war of wills” which could encourage the UK government to weaken or indeed set aside devolution.

In the period 2003-2006 despite ignoring advice to address issues formalising inter-governmental relationships, devolution appeared to be bedding in well, greatly assisted by the euphoria of a new parliament which ensured a massive measure of public support, even for what proved to be a succession of incompetent and corrupt coalition governments who were driven by an ever expanding increasing zeal of dogma driven right wing policies brought forward by Westminster but eagerly embraced and implemented without question by Scottish coalition governments. Without doubt due to the loyalty of Scottish government ministers to their parent government, of the same ilk, at Westminster.

 

 

 

 

The Westminster/Holyrood Experience – 1999-2006

In consequence of the foregoing “forelocking” the weakness of the devolution arrangement soon unravelled. The Scottish parliament was continually reminded of the pecking order within the UK. Scotland had no authority over macro economics (interest rates, taxation or banking) or micro matters (employment law, industrial relations, or large parts of the welfare state).

Block financial grants provided the Scottish government with authority to manage expenditure of devolved budgets but the management was controlled by UK government funding policy and the UK public financial systems. Reservation of the bulk of powers to Westminster, rendered the Scottish Parliament impotent and of little consequence.

Devolution had only transferred very limited powers to the Scottish Assembly but even these were not exclusive since they simply cemented Westminster’s sovereignty, and controlling influence over the politics of the entire UK. Westminster would still crack the whip insofar as the Scottish economy was concerned. Devolution had created 2 governments in Scotland. A recipe for failure.

Although problems routinely surfaced in the period 1999-2006, devolution had formed many overlapping and shared policies and party interests meant that politicians in both parliaments being on the same side difficulties were quietly resolved to the satisfaction of Westminster without undue publicity.

 

 

 

2007 – The Scottish National Party government

The election of a minority SNP government in May 2007 presented the Westminster Labour government with a set of major problems. The primary one being an abandonment of the Union to which the Labour, Conservative and Lib/Dem parties were committed. The stage was being set for a major confrontation between Westminster and Holyrood.

Spurred by a need to do things differently, the SNP quietly introduced “divergence” to Scottish politics. The first policies introduced change, “at odds” with the NHS in England namely:

* Free long-term care for the elderly
* Removal of prescription charges
* Removal of car parking charges in hospitals
* Increased funding per head of the Scottish Health Service

Divergent measures needed to be introduced with care and full public support and within the limits of devolved divergence so that Westminster would not be alerted to block proposed devolved actions, justifying censure advising that proposed divergence exceeded devolved powers and would be contrary to wider UK interests. Such censure was not forthcoming so in the period 2007 – 2010 under the governance of the SNP Scotland’s social, domestic and some economic politics developed differently to that of the Westminster government.

But limitations, applied by Westminster, to the powers of the devolved Scottish government meant there were many things that the SNP government wished to introduce, but couldn’t due to the entrenched attitude of the UK Government who insisted that the needs of the UK took precedence over that of Scotland. This dependence of Scotland on Westminster is overwhelming mainly due to the allocation of annual finance enacted using the “Barnett Formulae.” which recognising spending on “comparable functions in England” creates a “block grant” for Scotland.

The primary weakness of the “Barnett Formulae” is exposure to the whims of Westminster politicians who might be inclined to increase privatisation across a range of services reducing the size and shape of the “Welfare State”. Any funding reduction transfers to the “Scottish Block Grant” making it impossible for the Scottish government to maintain services as they would wish forcing Scotland to adopt the policies of Westminster. So much for devolution.

 

 

 

Higher Education in Scotland

Westminster chose to introduce individual charges for higher education. Students would be provided with deferrable loans by universities, repayable over time. Financial allocations to higher education were reduced by Westminster.

The SNP Scottish government gave notice of a divergence from Westminster policy introducing higher education in Scotland free of University fees. Finance covering the measure would be allocated from the “reduced block grant for education” to appropriate places of learning annually. More Squeezing of finance by Westminster.

 

 

 

Council Tax – the 2008 proposals

The SNP government brought forward proposals which, if introduced would essentially change local taxation removing the much maligned “Council Tax” replacing it with a “local income tax”. There was an almighty row over “council tax benefit”, with Westminster, who had retained control of Welfare. The UK government would not confirm a transfer of benefit finance to Scotland which meant that any “local income tax” would not be underpinned by Westminster. Divergence had to be abandoned exposing the weakness of devolution where there is a crossover between devolved and non-devolved areas of policy

 

 
1999 -2007 – The demise of the Labour Party in Scotland

The 2007 Labour Lib/Dem party election campaigns in Scotland were disastrous. There was little policy promotion. In it’s place the parties of government were hell bent on stigmatising the SNP promoting it to be divisive and acting against the best interests of Scots. There was a refusal to accept the ruling parties could lose the election. The SNP, well organised and focused advanced a simple message to the Scottish electorate, “only the SNP will stand up for Scots against Westminster”. The SNP won the day.

Scottish Labour repeatedly failed to convince the electorate that it had the interests of Scots at it’s heart until November 2007, when Wendy Alexander (yet another leader) in her St Andrew’s Day lecture offered to introduce progressive unionism, fully recognising Scottish distinctiveness within the UK. Her speech was at odds with the policies of Gordon Brown and the labour Party in England and she was forced to resign her leadership not long after. Blairism was live and still in control of Scottish labour

Further adding to Labour’s problems was an increasing dissatisfaction with corrupt labour run local councils. This was revealed at the time of local council elections when the “single transferable vote” was introduced. Many former Labour run councils reverted to no overall control or to SNP stewardship.

Labour influence in Scotland from 2007 has, at best been marginal and at worst irrelevant. The authority and ability of the party to control the political agenda of Scotland has gone. The warnings of the “Select Committee” in 2003 had been ignored.

 

 
Where are we now?

Apart from honouring a manifesto pledge the purpose of devolution, as perceived by the labour party,  has never been clear. The most telling statement was made by the labour peer, Lord Robertson who in 1999, said ” Devolution has killed the Nationalist movement. It is stone dead”.

But the absence of any change in the role of the UK government exposes the lie of that arguement. Nothing has changed. “Devolution is a dead parrot” destroyed by Westminsters obsession with control. Delegation without authority is not devolution it is simply a tightening of the cold hand of Westminster around the neck of Scotland, in time destroying the will to live as a free nation.

 

 
What the Scottish public wanted in 2007

Scottish Social Attitudes, has completed academic surveys regularly since 1997. they show a strong preference for extensive self government (devomax) within the United Kingdom, preferences which have if anything become stronger since 1999:

Year    be independent      remain with UK(1)    remain with UK(2)     remain with UK(3)
1997            37                                     44                                   10                                    18
1998            30                                     32                                     9                                    17
1999            28                                     50                                     8                                    10
2000           30                                     47                                     8                                    12
2001            27                                     54                                     6                                     9
2002           30                                     44                                     8                                    12
2003           26                                     48                                     7                                    13
2004           32                                     40                                     5                                    17
2005           35                                      38                                     6                                    14
2006          30                                      47                                     7                                      9
2007          23                                      55                                      8                                    10

1. With own parlament and full taxation powers
2. Own parliament but no taxation powers
3. Direct rule from Westminster

 

 

 

Devolution has clearly not gone far enough for people in Scotland. One way this is clearly shown is another set of questions from the same surveys, which seek to relate which level of government people think should be most powerful with which they think actually is.

These results are shown below, and indicate a considerable disparity of about 40 percentage points, between the government they think should be most important, the devolved one and the one they think is most important, the UK one in each case.

Year       Holyrood               Westminster
UK                                      UK
2000      72     (15)                         14       (66)
2003       66     (17)                        20      (64)
2004      67     (19)                         12      (48)
2005      67    (23)                          13      (17)
2006      64    (24)                         11       (38)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Devolution – A Diplomatic Gift From Westminster Or A Poisoned Chalice Concocted to Destroy Scotland – Part 1

 

 

 

17 December 2002: Devolution (Scotland) Arrangements within the UK Government

A commons select committee was formed early in the year 2002 with a remit to review inter-government working arrangements insofar as they were applicable to devolution and to bring forward recommendations, if any, for change which would further enhance devolution legislation.

Within the UK Government, responsibility for intergovernmental relations is widely dispersed. Few parts of the UK Government are untouched by devolution. In a department such as the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) almost every part of the organisation has to interact with its counterparts in the devolved administrations with some degree of frequency. What follows addresses how the UK Government is organised at the centre to deal with intergovernmental relations as they affect Scotland.

 

David Mundell and his son (Future Secretary of State for Scotland) Nepotism !!

 

 

The Secretary of State For the UK Government in Scotland

The Scotland Office, in it’s present form, was established in 1999 to deal with UK Government functions which related to Scotland. The Secretary of State for Scotland is supported by a Parliamentary Under-Secretary.

  Under-Secretary of State for the UK Government in Scotland

 

The Secretary of State and office plays a number of roles. Different views have been expressed as to what these roles are and some of the claims made are contested. Not all of the roles are related to devolution. According to a senior official in the Scotland Office, the Secretary of State:

“is there to have particular regard to the impact of the UK government in Scotland and to Scottish concerns that need to be dealt with within the UK government”

The Secretary of State’s “two headed dog” role has been defended by UK interested parties who offer that:

“It is a false dichotomy to say that the Secretary of State is either Scotland’s man in government or the government’s man in Scotland. He tries to be both. To be the voice of Scotland within the Cabinet and also to promote the Government’s policies in Scotland”

This particular interpretation of the Secretary of State’s role implies that the minister assumes a broad political role in relation to the devolved area concerned. It involves membership of upwards of 20 Cabinet Committees.

Such a role need not be limited to devolution; it follows that the Secretary of State will be involved in discussions on any matter concerning that area whether the matter is devolved or not. Indeed, one would expect them to be more active where the matter remains a UK responsibility (for example in relation to defence) than where the matter has passed to the devolved bodies. This role relates to the devolved area, and not to devolution as such; it is very much the same role as that always played by the relevant Secretaries of State.

Beyond this, we are sceptical about the value of the political role of the Secretary of State for Scotland. The Secretary of State is not accountable to Parliament for what the devolved administration does. He or she has no financial responsibility for how the devolved administration spends its funds. While the role may have been valuable for a transitional period, while the devolved institutions were established and immediately afterward, we have to question what its value is once devolution has become a settled part of the constitution.

 

This Janus-faced role of political presentation and liaison is not in itself the consequence of devolution. It complements a further role arising as a result of devolution, that of resolving issues concerning both the UK Government and the devolved administration. The Secretary of State for Scotland has lost almost all responsibility for government programmes; elections being the principal exception.

In other areas, the Secretary of State has no direct involvement in policy-making. Rather, the relationship is directly between the devolved administration or administrations involved and the relevant UK Department.

The Secretary of State and his or her Office only become involved when matters cannot be resolved at that level or become complicated or difficult, as their expertise is in the particular devolution settlements, not the policy issues involved.

The Secretary of State is therefore at one removed from the making of policy, kept abreast of what is going on but only involved when an issue cannot be resolved directly between the devolved administration and the relevant UK Department. For the Secretary of State this means that a great deal of his/her work is done behind the scenes. Consequently, the nature of the roles of Secretary of State has changed considerably with devolution.

Both these roles rely in large part on the Secretary of State being a member, not just of the majority party at Westminster but also the dominant party in office in the devolved administrations. The assumption is that parties share “a common agenda, a common understanding as to the values and problems they were trying to address. That obviously raises the question of how these functions would work if different parties are in office.

 

 

 

The Third Role

A third major role for the Secretary of State is in relation to Westminster legislation affecting devolved functions. The the role appears to involve determining whether legislation before the Scottish Parliament is within the Parliament’s powers. (If legislation at Westminster affects devolved matters it therefore requires a (Sewel motion) There is a legislative role at Westminster if legislation affecting Scotland is introduced. Determining the status of legislation also calls for heavy involvement from the Advocate-General for Scotland and the Office’s legal advisers.

 

 

 

Sewel Motions

Sewel motions are motions introduced into the Scottish Parliament inviting the Westminster Parliament to legislate on matters that are devolved and thus fall within the competence of the Scottish Parliament.

Sewel motions derive their name from the statement made in the House of Lords by the Scottish Office Minister, Lord Sewel, during the Second Reading of the Scotland Bill. He outlined the principles governing the introduction of legislation at Westminster affecting devolved matters. These principles are now set out in a “Memorandum of Understanding.” Paragraph 13 of this provides:

“The United Kingdom Parliament retains authority to legislate on any issue, whether devolved or not. It is ultimately for Parliament to decide what use to make of that power. However, the UK Government will proceed in accordance with the convention that the UK Parliament would not normally legislate with regard to devolved matters except with the agreement of the devolved legislature. The devolved administrations will be responsible for seeking such agreement as may be required for this purpose on an approach from the UK Government.” Sewel motions are the means through which such agreement is expressed.

 

 
The Fourth Role

A fourth role concerns legislation enacted by the Scottish Parliament. Such legislation would be void if it were beyond the Parliament’s or Assembly’s legislative competence. The primary responsibility for ensuring that a bill is within legislative competence lies with the Minister responsible for the bill and the Presiding Officer. However, the relevant statutes have provisions to prevent the granting of Royal Assent to legislation by challenge before the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. The consideration of whether legislation is beyond legislative competence falls to the Law Officers and the Secretary of State.

 

The Fifth Role

A fifth role relates to finance. On a formal level, the block grants payable to the devolved administrations is paid to the Secretary of State, who passes those grants to the devolved administration after deducting the costs of running the Scotland Office, (A ring fenced budget). This has served as a convenient means of enabling funding to be paid to the devolved administrations within the existing financial framework of Votes and Appropriations to ensure Parliamentary accountability. The Secretary of State is responsible for the use of public funds by the Scottish Office, but not to the devolved administration which is accountable to its own assembly or legislature and thence to its own electorate.

On a more practical level, the Secretary of State has a key role in any negotiations about financial matters, such as the overall amount of the block grants as determined by Spending Reviews, and any amounts additional to that. While the Secretary of State does not act as a proxy for the devolved administration, his/her office relys heavily on support from officials working for the devolved administrations regarding technical matters.

The foregoing roles are important in making devolution work. The issue is not whether they should exist, but whether there is a need that they should continue to be played by a Secretary of State or some other more suitable arrangement.

 

 

 
The Scotland Office

The role of the Scotland Office, in large part, is to support the Secretary of State. To that extent, they replicate the roles of the Secretary of State.

One important exception is the arrangements within the Scotland Office for legal matters. Scots law is different in many respects from the laws applying elewhere in the UK. This creates two legal offices: the Advocate-General for Scotland, the UK Government’s Scottish law officer, and the Office of the Solicitor to the Advocate-General, (OSAG) which houses the UK Government’s general legal advisers on matters of Scots law. OSAG also deals with Scots law issues arising from Westminster legislation and has a role in the scrutiny of legislation before the Scottish Parliament.

There is a glaring disparity in size of the Scotland and Wales Offices. In many ways the roles they play are similar. There are two major differences that do exist:

(1). The Scotland Office incorporates the Office of the Solicitor to the Advocate-General (OSAG), which has no parallel for Wales.

(2). Since Westminster remains the sole legislature for Wales it is expected the staffing of the two offices would be similar.

This is not the case however. Reports indicate that the Scotland Office has retained 85 staff, (excluding OSAG and the Legal Secretariat to the Advocate-General) despite many functions being transferred to the Scottish Parliament. This has the effect of increasing the cost of running the Holyrood parliament whilst retaining an unsustainable ring fenced establishment at the Scottish Office.

The Wales Office an average of 41 (excluding its legal adviser). The Scotland Office therefore has more than twice as many officials as the Wales Office, even though the devolution settlement for Scotland is rather more straightforward from a UK Government point of view than the Wales one. There is an on-going lack of a cogent explanation for the discrepancy and how this anomally has been allowed to be retained.

 

 

Remedial Action

In recognition of a transfer of many powers of state to devolved governments it is recommended that the UK Government should merge all UK Devolution teams under the direction of one Cabinet Minister. This single single group of officials would be well able to deal with the full range of much reduced intergovernmental issues.

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld200203/ldselect/ldconst/28/2801.htm