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Calman Commission

Volume 485: debated on Wednesday 10 December 2008

4. Whether he has discussed the findings in the interim report of the Commission for Scottish Devolution with the First Minister. (240213)

I am very disappointed by that. The First Minister has a tendency to conflate the interests of the Scottish National party with the interests of Scotland. It would very much be in the interests of Scotland if Scottish Government civil servants were able to give evidence to the Calman commission. If the Secretary of State manages to have that conversation, perhaps he could use his undoubted charm to persuade the First Minister to remove the ban and let them give evidence.

It is, as I said, both disappointing and surprising that Scottish Government Ministers will not give evidence; and Scottish Government civil servants cannot give evidence to the process. I want to strike a tone whereby I work with all Scots in Scotland’s interests and I am just disappointed that that offer has not been taken up by the First Minister and the Scottish Government.

It is clear that by next summer the Calman commission will have completed its work and a final report will be published. In the light of the fact that Scotland’s First Minister and the Scottish National party are not really interested in better governance for Scotland—[Interruption.] We hear about the Tory-Labour pact, and I am in favour of pacts so far as the Union of the United Kingdom of Great Britain is concerned, as opposed to the arc of insolvency offered by the SNP and its swivel-eyed supporters. Will the Secretary of State please tell us his plans for the Government timetable when the final report is published in the summer?

We cannot dictate to the Calman commission the timetable for the publication of its report, but we continue to engage with it and we will respond to it. The fact is that Scotland gets the best of both worlds: it has the benefit of a devolved Parliament in Edinburgh and the security of the UK Parliament, which provides a sense of security and stability in these very difficult times.