Calman Commission – an enquiry into ten years of Scottish devolution –
reports today and is recommending that a number of tax raising powers
be devolved to the Scottish Parliament.  The Scottish government
currently has the freedom to alter the rate of income tax by plus or
minus three pennies in the pound.  Although it has never used that
freedom the Calman Commission recommends that it has the freedom to cut
income tax rates by up to 10p in the pound and that there should be no
limits on how high it can raise income tax.

The Commission established by Scotland's Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat parties
– and shunned by Alex Salmond's minority government – also recommends
devolution of stamp duty on house purchases, air passenger duty, a
landfill tax and a tax on mineral extraction (see report in The Herald).

Leader of Scotland's Conservatives, Annabel Goldie issued this statement:

“We will carefully consider this
hugely important report and its numerous recommendations. Indeed, on
Tuesday, we will begin our detailed analysis when I meet with David
Cameron and David Mundell. Central to our deliberations will be that
the best devolved settlement in the world can only succeed if there is
a relationship between our governments and parliaments built on mutual
respect. It is significant that this has been recognised by the Calman
Commission. As a Party which aspires to government in the UK, we know
the responsibility we have to take this report forward, to create a
strong and stable Scotland within a strong and stable United Kingdom.
The Steering Group is now the right way to drive matters forward and
the door is open to anyone, including the SNP, who wishes to engage in
this continuing and vital task.”

The Scotsman
is critical of the report, however.  Accusing it of "focusing on
accounting changes to the Scotland Act rather than the transference of
actual economic levers at a time when Scotland needs them more than

Tim Montgomerie