By a Newsnet reporter
Secretary of State for Scotland Michael Moore has dismissed as “cheek” a request from SNP MP Stuart Hosie that the UK government specify what additional powers would be offered to the Scottish Parliament in the event of a no vote in the independence referendum.
Appearing before a Select Committee in the House of Commons, Mr Moore was asked by Mr Hosie to explain what Prime Minister David Cameron meant by the “enhanced devolution” he claimed he was open to “considering” when he was in Edinburgh last week.
Mr Moore initially refused to answer the question, claiming it was “incredible” that Mr Hosie was requesting details of additonal powers. However pressed further by Mr Hosie, the Lib Dem MP snapped back complaining Mr Hosie had “a bit of cheek” in asking.
Mr Hosie had asked the Secretary of State whether Mr Cameron’s “announcement was simply to capture one day’s news headlines or was it to cover the embarrassment of a government which voted against the devolution of any further powers in the Commons debate or the Scotland Bill last year”.
An obviously rattled Mr Moore replied:
“The honourable gentleman has a bit of cheek talking about a lack of detail when they [the SNP] cannot spell out what the currency situation would be in an independent Scotland, to what the national debt might look like, how we deal with pensions, financial regulation.”
However, Mr Moore’s claims were called into question after it emerged that questions of pensions are determined by international agreements to which the UK government is a signatory. The issue of pensions was dealt with in a White Paper produced by the Scottish govnernment in 2009.
The UK government collects all UK revenues and alone has borrowing powers, critics have pointed out that the only body able to produce accurate and detailed financial information about the amount of debt Scotland would inherit from the UK.
First Minister Alex Salmond has already stated publicly that Scotland would adopt Sterling immediately following independence and would inherit a share of UK national debt as well as UK assets. Experts have also confirmed that Scotland would be treated as a successor state to the UK, and would therefore also inherit existing UK commitments such as EU membership.
Mr Moore went on to say that the question of extra powers for Holyrood could only be considered after the referendum, and again refused to consider providing any details of what kind of Union Scots would be voting to remain a part of should they reject independence in the referendum.
Mr Moore said: “It is absolutely clear, we must make the most fundamental decision on Scotland’s future in a clear-cut and decisive way. The debate about devolution will be ongoing and I very much look forward to being part of that.”