[email protected]: Ross Finnie – Devolution ‘mistakes were made’

Over at BBC.co.uk, Lib Dem MSP Ross Finnie reflects on some of his personal highs and lows in the run-up to the 10th anniversary of Scottish devolution on 1st July. Here’s an excerpt:

For Liberal Democrats, the election itself was an achievement. Due to our advocacy of proportional representation, the political parties won the number of seats in the new parliament that reflected the number of votes cast by the people of Scotland.

The Liberal Democrats entered into coalition government for the first eight years of devolution and were pleased to introduce ground-breaking social health policies like free personal care for the elderly and free eye and dental checks. We led the way for the rest of the UK in banning smoking in public places. In Scotland, students stopped paying tuition fees and the elderly and disabled enjoy free travel on public transport across the country. Our land reform legislation gave Scots the absolute right of responsible access to the country side and paved the way for community ownership of land. Scotland repealed the discriminatory Section 28 in Scotland, three years earlier than the rest of the UK and introduced ground-breaking freedom of information laws to make the public bodies open, transparent and accountable. …

The 10th anniversary of our parliament is a chance to look to the future, to see how we can strengthen the existing devolution settlement. The parliament has made great strides, but there are still areas where we could do better.

From a Liberal Democrat perspective, the biggest piece of a truly home rule Parliament still missing is greater financial powers. The current financial crisis shows that economic independence is a bit of a myth, but a parliament needs to have more control over its tax raising to make it more responsible and accountable for its spending. It needs to have borrowing powers to allow it to determine the timing and amount of that spending.

I am confident the parliament will continue to develop and will continue to serve the people of Scotland well. I hope the report of the Calman Commission will provide the ammunition for more powers – especially financial powers – to be devolved and allow the parliament to represent Scotland as part of the UK as part of the EU and on the world stage where Scots have excelled over the years.

You can read the article in full HERE.

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This entry was posted in LibLink and Scotland.
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