Scotland to have more independent powers

The UK's body on strengthening devolution, the Smith Commission, concluded Nov. 27 that Scotland's parliament should have more independence in certain matters. The commission, set up by Prime Minister David Cameron, recommended that Scotland's parliament have the power to set income tax rates, voting age, welfare payments; and a consultative role in reviewing the BBC Charter. The announcement follows Scotland's vote against independence in September. While Scotland's government welcomed the announcement, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon found the commission's decision disappointing as the Scottish parliament would still be responsible for less than half of the money the country will spend.

In September voters in Scotland voted against independence from the UK in the country's first national referendum on the matter. The recent push for a referendum regarding Scotland's independence has marked a turning point in the decades-long negotiations between Scotland and the UK. If Scotland became independent it would have had to apply for separate EU membership, according to a report released in February by HM Treasury, the UK's economic and finance ministry. Last October, Cameron and former Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond formally agreed to hold the referendum regarding the independence of Scotland, potentially ending the union between the two nations in place since the Union with England Act of 1707. Drafts of the referendum differed considerably in terms and direction from the original, presented in February 2010.

From Jurist, Nov. 27. Used with permission.