PM fails to name single power 'on the table'

The Tories are in a “state of disarray and division” on the issue of powers for the Scottish Parliament the SNP said after the Prime Minister failed to address a direct question at Prime Minister’s Questions asking what powers could be devolved to Scotland just days after claiming, during a visit to Scotland, that an alternative to independence is "on the table".

David Cameron’s failure to name a single power, in response to a question from SNP MP Angus MacNeil, adds to the confusion which has already been created after the Prime Minister’s position was contradicted by the Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson who claimed that the Scotland Bill was the more powers they would offer. In her leadership campaign she said that the Scotland Bill was a “line in the sand” as far as devolution went under her leadership.

Mr MacNeil said:

“By avoiding a straightforward question with a negative response the Prime Minister has added to the state of disarray and division within the Tory party over powers for the Scottish Parliament.

“Just days after claiming he would be positive and more powers were on the table, David Cameron now cannot name a single power that he would devolve. If his claims in Scotland were genuine he now has a democratic duty to set out exactly what is on offer.

“The Tories appear totally divided on Scotland’s constitutional future with David Cameron claiming more powers are a possibility, while Ruth Davidson’s position is that of the Scotland Bill as her ‘line in the sand’. Indeed, Ruth Davidson’s apparent reluctance to move from her “line in the sand” position over the Scotland Bill to increasing devolved powers reveals just how panicked and unclear the Tories are over their stance on Scotland’s constitutional future.

“Who are Scottish voters to believe: the Prime Minister with his promises of ‘jam tomorrow’, or Ms Davidson with her refusal to even consider an improvement to the inadequate Scotland Bill?

“The Tories have been left behind by people across civic Scotland who are considering the powers that Scotland needs to have a successful economy and fair society - instead of savage cuts and a stagnant economy from the UK coalition.

“People in Scotland are entitled to know what the Prime Minister has in mind, and whether his proposals include any real economic powers and responsibilities, for example, over welfare issues.

“The Prime Minister should spell out what his alternative to independence is. If his proposals go beyond the current Scotland Bill, David Cameron has a responsibility to say what he has in mind.”

A transcript of Mr MacNeil’s question to the Prime Minister is detailed below:

Angus MacNeil MP: Last week in Edinburgh the Prime Minister said there were more powers on the table for Scotland but couldn’t name any. A few months ago he mocked the idea of Scotland controlling its own oil wealth. In the Scotland Bill, even the Crown Estate was too big. Can the Prime Minister now name one power that he has on his mind from his latest u-turn.

David Cameron MP: I didn’t think that the SNP favoured devolution. I thought that they favoured separation, yet as soon as your offered a referendum that gives you a chance to put that in front of the Scottish people they start running away.