Westminister Comment - The Government has made it clear

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Post the referendum the Government has started the process of delivering on the vow the three party leaders made to deliver further powers to the Scottish Government.

The three parties will put their plans to Lord Smith who has been appointed to bring together the various views from across Scotland on what powers are best transferred to the Scottish Parliament.

The Government has made it clear that the timetable for producing a draft bill will not be held up by parallel discussions on the consequences of Scottish MPs voting on issues that affect the rest of the UK.

The Prime Minister’s speech on the morning after the referendum was poorly worded and gave the impression that if the consequences for the rest of UK could not be solved there would be a delay in delivering on the vow made to the people of Scotland. This would be totally unacceptable and I welcome the confirmation that the plans for Scotland will proceed as promised.

Much of the focus in looking at more powers is on the need to transfer more responsibility on taxes so that we can debate at Scottish elections the balance of our priorities. The Scottish Parliament already has extensive powers on the policy side. Greater financial powers will provide for a more balanced Parliament.

Crucial to the spirit of devolution is the need for the Scottish Government to stop centralising power in Edinburgh and to recognise we have diverse communities here in Scotland. The centralising of the police had led to the decision to carry weapons in routine situations. I am glad that the subsequent consultation has triggered a decision to reverse the policy.

The delivery of further power to the Scottish Parliament does highlight the need to look at how decisions are taken that affect the rest of the UK. Northern Ireland and Wales have different levels of devolution. Meanwhile there are parts of England that want more regional decision making.

There really needs to be a debate in the rest of the UK along the lines of the Constitutional Convention that produced the solid foundations for the setting up of the Scottish Parliament. My party has long advocated a federal solution

The solution is not easy and should be thought through carefully if we are to maintain the cohesion that makes up the UK and respect the decision of the people in Scotland who voted to stay part of the UK.

Another decision that needs to be thought through carefully is our commitment to the European Convention on Human Rights.

It was established after the war with considerable British involvement to ensure Europe was not faced again with the tyranny that had been witnessed in the Second World War. It is there to protect citizens from oppression by the state.

By signing up to it we set an example that allows us to persuade the many other emerging nations in Eastern Europe to sign up as well.

At the heart of the protection is the Court that judges if the State has breached the protection offered to its citizens. The vast bulk of the cases are decided in favour of the UK Government. Very occasionally a ruling goes against the Government.

The Government should listen to wise voices like Ken Clarke and Dominic Grieve. The very occasional difficult judgement is not a reason to abandon an institution that has shone a light of hope for citizens faced with oppression by the State.

Meanwhile there is news of an underspend on the new Forth crossing. The Scottish Government could now move quickly to tackle the need to put in a flyover at the dangerous Laurencekirk junction by making use of that underspend.