Time to Change the 'Devolution Settlement'


The Queen opens the Scottish Parliament 2-7-16. Pic AFFG

In this article, we examine what is meant by the phrase "the devolution settlement"; why this particular form of "settlement" is wrong from a unionist perspective; and how it can be improved to properly reflect the true Unitary Nation-State nature of the United Kingdom.

When politicians speak about "the devolution settlement" they are referring to the particular Model of devolution which is used for Holyrood.

To illustrate what we're talking about, let's use the example of the 111 powers which will be coming back to the UK after we leave the EU, but which the SNP (and others), want automatically to go to Holyrood.

What should be happening with these powers?

From a unionist perspective, the presumption should always be that any powers will go to our central, collective, national British Parliament. It can then decide which ones are appropriate to devolve, if any.

To do otherwise – to presume that the devolved administrative unit (Holyrood) is entitled to automatically acquire those powers – is to refute the unionist position, which is that the United Kingdom is a Unitary Nation-State, in which there is a one central, collective, national British Parliament in which all powers are vested and from which all powers flow in the first place!

We spoke about that in our article on how the SNP administration is not a "Government". We spoke about how Holyrood is a devolved administrative branch of the one British Parliament and Government, in a vertical not horizontal, hierarchical not level, relationship.