We have published today the report of the party’s Home Rule and Community Rule Commission which I had the privilege to chair.
We were asked by the party conference last year to set out clear and detailed plans for achieving home rule for Scotland – substantial domestic powers while remaining part of the UK. We were asked to build on the report of the Steel Commission, and that is what we have done.
In fact the recommendations are much stronger on the need for federal United Kingdom than many commentators were expecting. That is in no small measure because of the large number of representations the Commission received from party members and the strong views expressed at our special consultation event at the spring conference in Inverness.
The report makes it clear that devolution alone will not do the job. More devolution will not provide a stable future for the United Kingdom.
Our recommendations give Scotland the best of both worlds. We get strong domestic powers, not least on social justice, wealth and the economy. But we also get the strength, equity and global voice from being part of the United Kingdom.
We have set out how new powers for Scotland and a new relationship with the rest of the United Kingdom can be achieved ahead of similar change elsewhere in the UK. But we are clear that the best future for Scotland is within a federal United Kingdom.
I should also point out that we have included very strong recommendations to increase the powers that local communities and councils have over their areas.
This will be unique Liberal Democrat territory among the political parties. We don’t think the decentralisation of power should end at Holyrood. Our plans stop in their tracks the centralising controls of government ministers over local councils.
The Times has said, “the plan represents the most developed proposal for Scotland’s constitutional future yet from any of the opposition parties at Holyrood…with sweeping new powers for councils…and an end to the power grab.”
The whole package of proposals will be debated on Saturday 27th October at our autumn conference. I hope you will come to Dunfermline and be part of our debate. You can register through Dunfermline2012@scotlibdems.org.uk.
Menzies Campbell MP
Chair, Home Rule and Community Rule Commission