Following the referendum, a promise was made to Scotland of more powers — not more powers at a cost.
The Smith Agreement — signed up to by all of Holyrood’s parties — had at its core the principle of no detriment to Scotland in devolving new powers to the Scottish Parliament.
In the ongoing negotiations between the Scottish Government and the Treasury that principle has been central and the UK government must not lose focus on a fair deal on the fiscal framework which doesn’t short change Scotland.
However, the clock is ticking and we need to know if the promises made are going to be delivered, and our Scottish Parliament has only four weeks remaining to properly consider any deal on the table.
Representatives of both Governments will appear before the Devolution Committee on Tuesday and the Committee will rightly expect nothing less than a full and detailed explanation of their respective positions and where they go from here. Any further delay beyond Tuesday will have a substantial impact on the Scottish Parliament’s ability to to scrutinise the detail of any agreement.
Holyrood scrutiny by MSPs isn’t a optional extra, it’s not just a passing stamp of approval or a chance for members to get some kind words on the record — it is an absolutely essential part of ensuring that any proposed deal on the fiscal framework is up to scratch, and doesn’t lock-in a systematic erosion of Scotland’s budget in the years ahead.
Long gone are the days of HM Treasury deciding behind closed doors that what’s best for themselves is best for the rest of us.
People in Scotland place their confidence and trust in our Parliament at Holyrood and its MSPs to make decisions on their behalf and in their best interests. On the fiscal framework it is no different. For that reason we need a deal to be done — giving time for proper parliamentary scrutiny to ensure the Scotland Bill is delivered as promised.
Bruce Crawford MSP is the Convener of the Scottish Parliament’s Devolution Committee