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Calman Commission

Volume 522: debated on Wednesday 26 January 2011

2. What progress the Government have made on implementation of recommendations of the Calman Commission on Scottish Devolution; and if he will make a statement. (35125)

6. What progress the Government have made on implementation of recommendations of the Calman Commission on Scottish devolution; and if he will make a statement. (35129)

The coalition agreement contained a commitment to implementing the recommendations of the Commission on Scottish Devolution, which is also known as the Calman commission. The Government introduced the Scotland Bill on 30 November—St Andrew’s day—2010. The Bill will have its Second Reading in this House tomorrow and I look forward to hon. Members taking part in the debate.

I very much welcome the provisions in the Scotland Bill to make the Scottish Parliament more fiscally accountable, but can my right hon. Friend give me an assurance that the business community on both sides of the border will be fully consulted about the implementation of the tax powers, so that it does not suffer an undue administrative burden?

I welcome my hon. Friend’s comments—I know that he has more than a passing interest in those particular powers. I can give him absolutely the assurance that he wants. Through the high-level implementation group, which brings together experts from a range of bodies, and Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs technical groups, we are consulting very carefully and taking on board all the comments being made.

Calman acknowledged that the Barnett formula no longer reflected need. As a consequence, constituencies such as mine—Warrington South—receive many millions of pounds per year less than equivalent constituencies in Scotland. Does the Minister have any plans to amend the Scotland Bill to put the allocation on to a basis of need?

All I will say to the Secretary of State is that that question is very wide of the considerations of the Calman commission, and I feel sure that he will be dextrous enough to provide an orderly reply.

The problem is that the recommendations of the Calman commission are not being implemented—they are not in the Scotland Bill. The proposal on the aggregates levy, the proposals for the devolution of the marine environment and the proposal on air passenger duty have all been abandoned. Is that a lack of imagination on the part of this Government, or merely a lack of ambition for Scotland?

We certainly do not lack ambition for Scotland. We have a set of proposals that are being thoroughly scrutinised in the Scottish Parliament, and from tomorrow, they will be scrutinised in the House as well. As far as the specifics are concerned, the hon. Gentleman will be aware that, in respect of the aggregates levy, we have said that given the current court case, it is inappropriate to devolve that just now, but we will do so in future. I recommend that he goes back to the Command Paper and studies it carefully.