FORMER prime minister Gordon Brown has announced plans for a timetable to give the Scottish Parliament more powers if voters reject independence in next week’s referendum.
Mr Brown said a No vote would be the “starting gun” for further powers for Holyrood, with a new Scotland Act drawn up to give the country greater control over finance, welfare and taxation.
He was speaking after a shock YouGov poll put support for independence ahead for the first time, with 51 per cent supporting Scotland leaving the UK, compared to 49 per cent who want to remain in the union.
The pro-union Better Together campaign has denied that it is being forced into panic measures to shore up support and has dismissed claims that a promise to outline the handover of more powers is little more than a “bribe” with just 10 days to go to the crucial vote.
Mr Brown, who set out his plans in a speech at the Loanhead Miners Welfare and Social Club tonight, said work would begin on the new legislation on September 19, the day after the vote.
He envisions a “command paper” to be published by the present UK Government setting out all the proposals for change no later than the end of October.
A white paper would be drawn up in November after a period of consultation, with draft clauses for legislation expected in January.
Mr Brown said: “The alternative to an irreversible separation is a more powerful Scottish Parliament with a timetable for its delivery.
“Quite simply, Scottish voters deserve to know to the fullest extent possible about how new powers as ambitious as possible will be delivered as soon as possible within the UK.
“So, we are demanding a tight timetable with tough deadlines and streamlined procedures.
“A No vote on September 18 will not be an end point but the starting gun for action on September 19, when straight away we will kick off a plan to deliver the enhanced devolution that we want.
“On September 19 we will start bringing into law the new, stronger Scottish Parliament, and to secure the change we want we will work with the other parties.
“The Scottish people will expect nothing less, not only because that is the right thing to do, but because we need an agreed timetable with deadlines for delivery and a roadmap to our goal.”