Michael Forsyth, Margaret Thatcher’s Scottish secretary, has said proceeding with the Scotland Bill is pointless unless the SNP gives its support, according to reports.
Mr Forsyth (Baron Forsyth of Drumlean) cautioned that it would “fall off the edge of the earth” without Alex Salmond’s endorsement. However, the First Minister has prioritised strengthening the Scotland Bill and having it delivered sooner than the anticipated date of 2016. Bringing forward the passing of the Scotland Bill is sensible given that a referendum on independence would collide with a Scotland Bill if its original schedule is adhered to.
David Cameron reassured Scotland’s First Minister he will not stand in the way of an independence referendum. Mr Cameron added Alex Salmond’s assertion that the SNP’s emphatic election victory meant Scots now wanted the repatriation of borrowing powers, corporation tax and the Crown Estate Commission to the Scottish parliament in the meantime will be considered by Downing Street.
Mr Forsyth, who headed the no campaign against devolution in the 1990s, advised that – in respect of the Scotland Bill – Scots should take it or leave it. The Scotland Bill, although a Westminster Bill, cannot be passed with the endorsement of Holyrood. The Bill was drafted by Unionist parties and while giving the impression of transferring powers to Scotland the opposite, were it to be passed, would be true in reality. One such fear is the loss of the independence of Scots Law owing to a submission by Lib Dem peer and Scotland’s current Advocate General Jim Wallace (Baron Wallace of Tankerness).
Mr Forsyth, who once threatened to leave Scotland if it became independent, told the The Sunday Times: “I think we should say to him (Salmond), if you are not prepared to accept these proposals there is no point in us proceeding with the Bill, instead of being on the back foot.
“The Bill has not had its third reading in the Commons, so I don’t see any point in proceeding with the third reading unless there is an agreement that the SNP will support it.
“It would fall off the edge of the earth. The Scotland Bill would have been lost because Alex Salmond was making demands that were not acceptable to Westminster.”