McLetchie reveals true Tory colours on devolution

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By a Newsnet reporter

Following-on from claims by David McLetchie (pictured right) during this afternoon’s Scotland Bill Committee meeting that further devolution “may not take place” – despite claims by David Cameron – SNP MSP John Mason has said the Tories are all over the place.

The Scotland Bill Committee had met to discuss extra powers for the Scottish Parliament, which have been agreed without five of the six key demands set out by First Minister Alex Salmond.  The UK Government rejected calls for responsibility for corporation tax, the Crown Estate, excise duties, broadcasting and a formal role in EU meetings to be devolved to the Scottish Parliament.

Committee convenor SNP MSP Linda Fabiani mentioned that Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron had “been talking about further devolution of powers”, but former Tory leader David McLetchie replied that the changes apparently promised by the Prime Minister “may or may not take place”.

Addressing the Committee Ms Fabiani said the “majority of the committee will still be disappointed” with the final Bill but said politicians “are still in debate” about more powers.

She added: “We will be moving further because there is the new Lib Dem commission (on home rule), Labour now has a commission (on devolution) and of course David Cameron on behalf of the Conservatives has also been talking about further devolution of powers.

“So since we started this process its interesting that almost everyone wants even more powers beyond what is in the Scotland Bill.”

However Mr McLetchie welcomed “the demise of the six demands” and said that the extra powers apparently promised by the Prime Minister may not materialise.

He said: “I welcome the fact that the sensible discussions that have taken place between Scotland’s two governments have arrived at a point where we will be enhancing the powers of the Scottish Parliament without prejudice, convener, to any changes which may or may not take place in the years to come.”

Responding to Mr McLetchie’s remarks, Mr Mason said:

“The Tories are all at sea and don’t know if they are coming or going when it comes to Scotland.

“First we had Ruth Davidson’s line in the sand, then the Prime Minister came to Edinburgh and made vague promises about jam tomorrow and now we’ve got David McLetchie saying that no more devolution is possible.

“In stark contrast the people of Scotland are clear and sure about where the Tories stand in their opinion – they don’t want a sinking ship governing Scotland.

“And no wonder. At the weekend Ms Davidson was quite explicit in her dislike for the Barnett Formula and threatened that a No vote and the status quo would mean funding cuts of up to £1,500 for every man, woman and child in Scotland.”