Michael Settle | The Herald
THE government of an independent Scotland would have to raise taxes or cut services to maintain welfare pay-ments, Iain Duncan Smith said as he defended his Universal Credit plan, which he said would make 100,000 Scots better off.
As the Coalition came under fire for considering linking hikes in benefit payments to average pay rather than inflation, the Work and Pensions Secretary – in Glasgow for a welfare reform conference – defended his plan to replace a string of benefits with a single payout called Universal Credit, stressing how “only the Union could offer this sort of wholesale reform”.
He said: “Due to the reliance on the old heavy industries in many parts of the country, it makes perfect sense that we need to spend more money per head of population on welfare support in Scotland; I have no problem with that.
“In fact, I am glad that we are in a position to do it. Thankfully, due to the United Kingdom and the commitment of the Westminster Government, we are able to ensure that money brought in whether it be from the City of London or from North Sea oil can be pooled and directed to wherever it is needed most. That is what being in the United Kingdom is all about.
“If the unthinkable were to happen, a Scottish Government would face a very stark choice of raising taxes or cutting services.”
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Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has insisted his party will play a key role in the argument over Scottish independence despite a slump in support at the polls.
The Liberal Democrat leader said the party’s advocacy of further devolution, while remaining a part of the United Kingdom, was in tune with the views of many Scots.
Mr Clegg, speaking during his first visit to Scotland since the launch of the unionist parties’ Better Together campaign, said: “The Liberal Democrats will play a very big role. We have got some extremely well-known, well-recognised national figures including Charles Kennedy, Willie Rennie and Michael Moore.
“We are leading advocates of further devolution but we also believe in the value of the family of nations in the United Kingdom standing together, so we can do things together that we cannot do on our own.”
Read the full article at Press Association
Mary Dejevsky | The Telegraph
It’s the summer of 2037, and the media – yes, they are still on top form – are gearing up for a crop of anniversaries. They are agog for the release of the most secret papers relating to the Abdication; on the horizon is the 50th anniversary of the Great Storm – Michael Fish’s infamous forecast is gleefully resurrected – and, of course, it is 25 years since the London Olympics. Several of the medallists are now esteemed Members of Parliament; Lord Coe retired as President of the International Olympic Committee six years ago, and the Prince who cheered on the quaintly named Team GB was recently crowned King William V, the crowds in the Mall reminiscent of those who had toasted his marriage 26 years before.
In many other respects, however, the UK, or rather Great Britain, is a very different country from the apprehensive, self-deprecating one that surprised itself with its sudden blossoming in 2012. For a start, it remains a united kingdom – or almost. Someone did break away, but contrary to expectations, it was not Scotland; it was Northern Ireland which quietly negotiated its entry into the Irish Federation that came into being in 2022, the centenary of the Republic’s secession.
Read the full article at The Telegraph website
Iain G Mitchell | The Scotsman
THE supporters of independence assert that, following independence, Scotland will retain EU membership, sterling and UK banking regulations.
These are clearly policy objectives, open to negotiation, but would any of these consequences ensue automatically?
First, the issue of EU membership. The state which signed the Treaty of Accession was the United Kingdom. If the United Kingdom ceases to exist, then, in international law, the treaty obligations will pass to the successor state or states.
It is worth remembering that the state which is presently known as the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, is, in fact, the result of two separate unions and a severance: first, the union in 1707 between England, Wales and Scotland; second, the union between Great Britain and Ireland a century later; and, third, the severance of the southern counties of Ireland in the 20th century. It is certainly arguable that the state which would be left after the withdrawal of Scotland, would still identifiably be that state, the United Kingdom. Thus, the UK will not be regarded as having ceased to exist, leaving Scotland as a new entity, which would have to apply to join in its own right.
Read the full article at The Scotsman website
UK Press Association
First Minister Alex Salmond has been accused of failing to provide the key details people need on what an independent Scotland could be like.
The Tories levelled the charge after their chief whip John Lamont asked the Scottish Government what would happen in 19 “critical areas” if the country left the United Kingdom.
Mr Lamont wrote to SNP ministers about key issues such as state pensions, benefits, vehicle licensing and national insurance payments. Other areas included disposal of nuclear waste and financial regulation, as well as questions about whether there would be a Scottish central bank or a written constitution.
On all the issues raised, Mr Lamont said the only response received was: “I shall reply to the member as soon as possible.”