Westminster breach own memorandum of understanding

The SNP has said Westminster’s failure to give the Scottish Government any advance notice of its intention to scrap the award of the West Coast Main Line franchise is yet another example of how UK Government decisions are bad for Scotland.

On this vital issue, the UK government has breached its own Memorandum of Understanding about the need to keep devolved administrations informed on the issues affecting them. To quote the MoU (dated March 2010): "the administrations will seek: to alert each other as soon as practicable to relevant developments within their areas of responsibility".

The SNP believe that this means Westminster should have given the Scottish Government some advance notice of the scrapping of the West Coast Main line franchise as it affects thousands of passengers in and out of Scotland, and Holyrood has significant responsibilities for the rail industry.

SNP MSP Gordon Macdonald says the snub adds “insult to injury” from Westminster, and welcomed the commitment from Transport Minister Keith Brown that the Scottish Government will do everything it can to help minimise any uncertainty and disruption.

Mr Macdonald, a member of the Scottish Parliament’s Infrastructure and Investment Committee, said:

“Not only has Westminster caused this rail fiasco, it has added insult to injury by failing to give the Scottish Government any advance notice of its failures and its intention to scrap the West Coast Main
Line franchise.

“This is a completely unacceptable snub – the UK government knows we have locus in this situation as the decision affects thousands of passengers in and out of Scotland, and Holyrood has significant
responsibilities for the rail industry.

“Westminster has broken its own Memorandum of Understanding, as I believe that under its terms the UK Transport Secretary should have made the Scottish Government aware of this hugely important issue.

“I am reassured by the commitment from the Scottish Government that it will do all it can with its currently limited powers to minimise the impact of this situation.

“Yet again this demonstrates why decisions affecting Scotland should be made by those 100 per cent elected by the people of Scotland. This mess demonstrates the farce and shambles of government from
Westminster – and no one can seriously doubt that an independent Scotland will be much more efficient at managing rail services in the interests of passengers.

“We need full responsibility not only on this issue, but on all issues affecting Scotland. We cannot trust a Tory-led government with decisions affecting Scotland.”