‘Devo Plus’ is what Scots really want says new group

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A NEW campaign to secure more powers for Scotland within the United Kingdom was launched in Edinburgh today.

The “Devo Plus” group wants to give the Scottish Parliament control of income tax and corporation tax, but leave Westminster in charge of VAT and National Insurance.

It argues each parliament should be responsible for the money it spends north of the Border.

The group has been set up by think tank Reform Scotland, but has support from across the political parties and outside politics.

Setting out the Devo Plus case, former Liberal Democrat MSP and finance spokesman Jeremy Purvis said: “It is clear that a sizeable number of people in Scotland are not looking for independence or the status quo but for the best way of securing a stronger Scotland within the UK.

“Devo Plus will offer precisely that. It is not a compromise solution. It is the best way forward for Scotland regardless of the independence referendum.”

Mr Purvis stressed the Devo Plus group was not campaigning for a second question in the referendum.

He distinguished Devo Plus from the often-mentioned Devo Max idea of Scotland taking responsibility for all domestic issues and controlling all taxation, but sending an agreed sum to Westminster to pay for defence and foreign policy.

He warned that Devo Max would “provide a deeply divisive and dangerously flux financial and political relationship between Scotland and the other nations within the UK”.

Mr Purvis said the Devo Plus plan would make the Scotland Bill currently going through Westminster its starting point and use much of the technical and operational work being done by the Scotland Office.

He said “It begins with the fundamental principle that for a long-term sustainable relationship to exist between parliaments within the UK - Scotland and the rest of Britain – we will require further reform.

“The recent contributions from the Prime Minister and Alistair Darling, where they have stated they are open to this consideration is to be welcomed. We believe Devo Plus has the opportunity to provide the space for discussion within parties, between parties, and, most importantly, outside political parties.”

Reform Scotland chairman Ben Thomson pointed out the “more powers” option regularly outpolled independence and the status quo among voters.

He said: “I have found it difficult to understand why the one option in this debate that seems to command most public support is not being championed by any significant organisation.”