Top-down legislation on powers for Scotland 'doomed', says SCVO chief

By staff writers
January 23, 2015

The chief executive of Scotland's leading network of voluntary organisations has issued a damning verdict on the UK government's devolution plans.

The critical comments came from Martin Sime, chief executive of the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO), following the publication of draft legislation on more powers for Scotland published on 22 January 2015.

“The piecemeal proposals put forward by the Smith Commission were never going to translate into coherent legislation, so we’re not surprised by today’s disappointing and incoherent offerings," declared Mr Sime forthrightly.

"[These proposals] simply will not create an enduring settlement or the fundamental change and greater social justice that so many people in Scotland want. Political fixes are not the way to develop devolution," he continued.

“The fatal flaw in all of this is the failure to make it a people-led process. To be successful, we need to pursue bottom-up devolution steered by what people in Scotland actually want.

“We need to find a way to open up debate to people and communities in Scotland if we’re going to reach a settlement on more powers that will stand the test of time and make a real difference to people’s lives. This is not a good starting point, nor will it endure”, said Mr Sime.

Other NGOs and civic organisations have also been critical of the command paper put forward by the Conservative Party, the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats at Westminster.

SCVO members are not bound by Mr Sime's, views, but they are likely to provoke lively discussion.

The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) is the national body representing the interests of charities, voluntary organisations and social enterprises.

The Scottish 'third sector turns over £4.9 billion a year and employs 138,000 people in over 45,000 organisations.

The 2014 Scottish referendum on independence created an enormous political momentum at the grassroots across the country.

But the Smith Commission process excluded meaningful public participation because of an unrealistic timetable imposed by the desire of the three large UK parties to make good on a hastily-scripted 'vow' to deliver 'substantial powers' to the Scottish parliament.

The aim, to persuade people to vote against self-government, is largely adjudged to have been successful. However, polling indicates that many 'No' voters to independence are less than happy with what has transpired since.

* Proposals for further devolution of powers to Scottish Parliament by three Westminster parties: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/proposals-for-further-devolut...

* Scottish civic groups unimpressed by Westminster devolution plans: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/21349

* Ekklesia submission to the Smith Commission on devolution to Scotland (31 October 2014): http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/21086

* The Smith Commission: what we said and what has happened (Simon Barrow, Ekklesia): http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/21100

* More on the post-referendum situation in Scotland: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/scottishindependence

[Ekk/3]

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