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‘Devo plus’ campaign launched

Regardless of a referendum on Scottish independence, ‘devo plus’ is the best way forward for the country, a new campaign group suggests.

The proposal is deliberately set up to contrast with the SNP proposal for ‘devo max’, which is a potential ‘third option’ on the referendum ballot paper, for those Scottish voters unhappy with full independence or the status quo.

Devo plus is being launched former Lib Dem leader Tavish Scott, Labour MSP Duncan McNeil and Tory MSP Alex Fergusson in Edinburgh today.

The proposals would give Holyrood more taxation and spending powers, and a new responsibility for welfare benefits, full control of income tax and corporation tax as well as a geographical share of oil revenues. Westminster would retain responsibility for VAT and National Insurance.

The Scottish Government intends to hold a referendum on independence in 2014, with the possibility of a second question addressing further powers for Scotland short of independence.

One of the campaign’s founders, Lib Dem MSP Jeremy Purvis will say: “The term devo max has been used, wrongly, as an umbrella under which all fiscal solutions from Calman to independence can hide, when in fact it is a very specific proposal by the SNP, which would lead to constant friction. Fundamentally, it does not address accountability issues either.

“Our objective is to see the creation of a system in which the Scottish Parliament, as far as possible, raises the money that it spends. That is the principle that underpins devo plus and it is the principle on which this group is based.

“Scotland cannot fulfil its potential while it is dependent on Westminster to raise taxes for it. Devo plus will make Holyrood and Westminster accountable and responsible for raising what each Parliament spends in Scotland. That is fair, and right.”

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