Contact details

contact email address

Monday, 19 May 2014

Clegg: A no vote doesn't mean no change

The Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, will today give a speech making the "positive social, political and economic case" for Scotland remaining in the United Kingdom and the European Union at an event hosted by the Scottish Chambers of Commerce in Edinburgh. Speaking to an audience of business people, Mr Clegg is expected to say:

“You should know – all of Scotland should know – that saying no to leaving the UK and the EU does not mean no to more change. And over the past four years, I’m proud of the contribution that the Liberal Democrats have made to this country. But one of our proudest achievements is Scotland specific. The 2012 Scotland Act constitutes the single largest transfer of financial powers from London to Scotland since the UK’s creation. Many of those powers have already gone live, with borrowing powers to be introduced in 2015. And a Scottish income tax rate set by the Scottish Parliament from 2016."

“Liberal Democrats were clear in the coalition negotiations that this Act was necessary to strengthen the devolution settlement - giving people in Scotland more say over domestic affairs while remaining part of a strong and successful UK. But the story of devolution – the journey to home rule – is not yet complete. We believe we can empower the Scottish Parliament and strengthen its accountability even further. In the event of a No vote this September, all three pro-UK parties have pledged to deliver more powers. The Prime Minister has started to talk about the Conservatives’ proposals. Labour published theirs some months back. And the Liberal Democrats put our plan out there more than eighteen months ago. All three parties are clear in their commitment. More powers will come."

“But it is no surprise that my party was first out the blocks or that we will act as the guarantors for a far-reaching deal. Devolution is in our instincts – just as it is in the interests of people in Scotland. Liberal Democrats worked with Labour and those outside politics in the Scottish Constitutional Convention, where we pushed for greater powers than many wanted to give. And we won them. We worked again with Labour plus the Conservatives and others on the Calman Commission, again with the most radical proposals of the Scottish parties, reaching an agreement that we enacted in government. And so, for the next real transfer of powers, it is natural that our ideas should come first, that we should be bold, and that we will play a central role in delivering for Scotland."

“The proposals published by Ming Campbell’s Home Rule Commission are radical and far-reaching. And when the next phase of devolution is shaped after September’s vote they will form the basis of our contribution to that discussion. We want to see a more powerful Scottish Parliament, whose actions are more accountable to the people who elect it. That means raising more of the money it spends on the priorities that it has chosen. The 2012 Scotland Act will mean that from 2016 the Scottish Parliament will raise about 30% of the money it spends."

"Under our proposals we raise that level up to over 50%. Income tax paid on earnings by Scottish taxpayers should be the responsibility of the Scottish Parliament. With the rates and bands determined here in Scotland. So should capital gains tax. And inheritance tax too. Why should these be the reserve of the UK Parliament only? If people in Scotland want to further cut the income tax burden on middle-income earners, that should be a choice for them. If they want to raise it in order to take less from lower earners, again they should be free to do so. If they elect a Parliament whose wish is to cut or increase capital gains tax, inheritance tax, or spending on schools and hospitals – well, so be it."

“Let these debates come out of the shadows. That is what democracy is about. Taking decisions and the responsibility that goes with them. Scotland should be able to innovate and change within the UK in line with its own opportunities and challenges, and that is what our proposals allow. Of course our proposals are not the final word. The settlement on further powers will need to be negotiated. Between the three pro-UK parties of course. With the SNP, if – for the first time – they were willing to be part of the devolution conversation too. But also with those outside politics who have a major stake to claim in Scotland’s future."

"Business must be at that table – contributing to this work, influencing its outcome, getting it right. That’s why I hope you vote No in September. It’s the positive choice for our positive future together. And it’s why I will continue to argue passionately that all our interests are best served by being in the UK, in Europe and working together.”

Commenting on Nick Clegg’s speech to the Scottish Chambers of Commerce, the SNP's Annabel Ewing MSP said: “Given that Mr Clegg’s party have been promising Home Rule for over a hundred years, people in Scotland are unlikely to view them as the guarantors of anything - except continued Conservative rule from Westminster. Let’s not forget that, as recently as 2011 the Lib Dems had the chance to beef up the Scotland Bill with a raft of new economic powers that they had previously supported - but they reneged on their previous commitments." 

Continuing Ms Ewing commented: "With such a track record, it is little wonder that the Lib Dems are currently fighting it out for sixth place in the European elections in Scotland. Scotland is an immensely wealth country, richer per head that the UK, France, Italy and Japan - but only a Yes vote in September is the only way to guarantee that Scotland gets the vital job-creating powers it needs to build a fairer, more prosperous society.”