Getting serious about powers for nations, regions and communities

By Press Office
January 23, 2015

Commenting on the UK government's command paper on draft proposals for further devolution to Scotland following the Smith Commission process, Simon Barrow, co-director of the beliefs and values think-tank Ekklesia, said:

"In our submission to the Smith Commission last year, we highlighted the need for widespread public engagement on the Heads of Agreement, and certain core principles related to subsidiarity, the localisation of power and a democratic and socially just future which needed to be at the core of an agreement on any new powers that represent a truly substantial shift in the current settlement.

"While what is being offered in the UK government's command paper represents some progress on devolution, it by-passes popular participation and still falls well short of the promise of 'home rule' or something approaching 'devo-max' in relation to the Vow made by the three largest Westminster parties before the Scottish independence referendum in September 2014.

"Our chief concern is the capacity for meaningful powers to deliver social and economic justice for all the nations and regions of the British isles, the empowerment of communities, and the vigorous participation of civic and faith groups in building peaceful, sustainable and just living conditions for all.

"Judged in those terms there are genuine concerns about these proposals in relation to the confusion of powers, restrictions and vetoes, and a disequilibrium between the responsibility of devolved government and its capacity to deliver. These issues need addressing. Rushing through legislation without adequate thought and engagement is a recipe for future problems."

* Scotland's 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 Smith Commission from Ekklesia: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/smithcommission

Although the views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Ekklesia, the article may reflect Ekklesia's values. If you use Ekklesia's news briefings please consider making a donation to sponsor Ekklesia's work here.