Devolution deal on a knife edge over fiscal framework dispute


Swinney warns deal is blocked by Tory intransigence over “no detriment”

THE FUTURE OF THE SCOTLAND BILL hangs in the balance today in the Scottish Parliament as key figures in the fiscal framework talks make a last ditch attempt to strike a deal.

Finance minister John Swinney MSP confirmed to the devolved powers committee that the fiscal framework, and therefore the entire package of further devolution, has stalled on the single multi-billion pound issue of calculating Scotland’s black grant funding.

The red-line issue means that after weeks of talks between the Scottish and UK Governments the Scotland Bill could still be rejected unless significant concessions are made.

Swinney told the committee that there had been “acceptable agreement on all issues with the exception of block grant adjustment”.

On the need for per capita index deduction calculation, he added the Tory government had only offered “varying degrees of detriment to the Scottish Government”.

Five things you should know about the ‘Fiscal Framework’ debate

This breaks the promise to meet the Smith Commission proposals, which included a fiscal framework with no financial detriment to either the Scottish or UK Governments as a result of further devolution.

Committee chair Bruce Crawford MSP warned that “dissolution is rapidly approaching”, and as a result of the drawn-out talks there was little time remaining for parliamentary scrutiny of any deal.

If the Scottish Government refused legislative consent, the failure of the Scotland Bill would undermine the key promise of the anti-independence campaign to deliver further powers to the Scottish parliament.

The SNP, Labour, the Scottish Green Party and Scottish Liberal Democrats all support the Scottish Government position of requiring the promise of “no detriment” to be delivered in the new fiscal framework.

A deal has been reached on further borrowing powers and the cost of social security administration.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will make a statement to parliament on the dispute later today [Tuesday 23 February] with further parliamentary evidence from Tory minister David Mundell MP planned for later in the evening.

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Picture courtesy of Scottish