By Martin Kelly
An admission this week by Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones that the refusal of Westminster to commit to more powers for Wales is undermining the case for Scotland staying in the UK is proof that a No vote will mean no more significant powers being devolved to Holyrood, the SNP has said.
In an interview with the BBC earlier this week, the Welsh First Minister said that devolution in Wales was not working due to London’s failure to commit to the recommendations contained in the Silk Commission.
The Welsh Labour leader has called for the recommendations of the Commission, Wales’ equivalent of the Calman Commission, to be implemented in full, subject to a referendum.
He said: “As far as the Welsh Government is concerned, our position is crystal clear. We are seeking full implementation of the Silk proposals, in their entirety.
“That means: borrowing powers to support investment; full devolution of smaller taxes including stamp duty; and legislating for income tax devolution, with powers to enable a future Assembly to call a referendum on whether that should be implemented.”
He added: “I want to be able to go to Scotland and say that there is a true commitment to devolution, set out as a key plank of the British constitution.”
However, the UK government has thus far resisted the calls from Wales’ First Minister prompting Mr Jones to complain that the stance is blocking him from arguing against Scottish independence.
Speaking in a BBC interview he said: “I’d like to go to Scotland, say to the people of Scotland; devolution is working, powers are being transferred – despite the fact there are parties of different political colours in Westminster and in Cardiff.
He added: “That hasn’t happened. Now I can’t go to Scotland and say that. The first question I’ll be asked is well, can you give us an example of how devolution’s working? And I’ll say; well in Wales at the moment it isn’t because of the attitude of the UK Government.”
Echoing criticisms of the pro-Union Scotland Office’s anti-independence scare stories, Mr Jones’ had previously accused their Welsh counterparts at the Welsh Office of over-estimating the negative effects of devolving stamp duty:
“I have to say that concerns about those alleged risks appear greater in Gwydyr House than they are among businesses in the real world.”
Commenting, SNP MSP Rob Gibson who sits on the Referendum Bill Committee said:
“The remarks by Labour’s Carwyn Jones are deeply telling, and show quite clearly that Westminster is incapable and uninterested in meeting the aspirations of people in either Scotland or Wales.
“It is a frank admission by Labour that Westminster is failing to deliver more powers for Wales, and that people in Scotland should not expect Westminster to deliver more powers for Scotland either.
“We know that the best decisions for Scotland are decisions made in Scotland, not by Westminster – that is what a Yes vote and independence is all about.
“The only way Scotland will secure the powers we need to build the fairer, more prosperous country we all want to live in is with a Yes vote next September.
“The people who should be making the decisions affecting Scotland are the people who live and work here, not Westminster Governments who simply do not consider Scotland’s needs to be a priority.”
Mr Jones’ remarks were followed by comments from Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont who, speaking to BBC Scotland on Sunday, claimed that the Labour party would present its proposals for more powers to the Scottish electorate prior to the independence referendum.
Speaking on the Sunday Politics Show, Ms Lamont said: “We will make clear to people in Scotland ahead of the referendum what those proposals are.”
However, the Scottish Labour leader – in what amounted to a split with her Welsh Labour colleague – signalled that the decision on whether to implement the changes would not be made by the Scottish people in a referendum, but would involve the rest of the UK.
She added: “Of course implementing those proposals we need to talk with each other. For too long the constitutional debate has been about dividing Scotland from the rest of the United Kingdom.”
The Scottish Labour leader said she wanted a constitutional debate “across the united kingdom”.
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