Gordon Brown may not be in office, but he is in power. After the former prime minister, in his own words, seized “the initiative” by announcing a timetable for further devolution to the Scottish parliament in the event of a No vote, Westminster was bemused. Downing Street had said this morning that details would be given “in the coming days”, with Wednesday briefed as the likely date. But here was Brown jumping the gun and promising “a modern form of Scottish Home Rule within the United Kingdom, published by St Andrews Day on 30 November, with the draft laws around 25 January – interestingly enough by Burns Night.”
The former PM will say in his speech in Midlothian tonight:
On 19 September we will start bringing into law the new, stronger Scottish Parliament, and to secure the change we want we will work with the other parties. The Scottish people will expect nothing less, not only because that is the right thing to do, but because we need an agreed timetable with deadlines for delivery and a roadmap to our goal.
Last week I spoke to the Speaker of the House of Commons and requested a parliamentary debate for the first week to bring the issues to the House of Commons at the earliest opportunity. He has promised me his answer by Wednesday.
But I think it is right anyway that on its first week back the House of Commons agrees a motion to set a new Scotland Act in train I hope this can be agreed.
But even though we are not in power, Labour is now taking the initiative proposing a timetable for strengthening the Scottish Parliament
It is this: by the end of October, just over five weeks after the referendum, we seek a command paper that sets out all the plans, including the agreed ground that unites us, and the issues that need to be resolved.
By the end of November, we seek Heads of Agreement on a new Scotland Act published in a White Paper, or its equivalent, will report back on an intensive month of consultation with Scottish civic society and with the groups who were engaged in talks during Scottish Constitutional convention, who like the Scottish Parliament, will be able to scrutinise and challenge the proposals.
By the end of January 2015,we seek draft clauses ready for legislative enactment as the new Scotland Bill and Scotland Act. I want to see draft clauses giving effect to these policies as soon as possible because I want legislation to happen as soon as possible. And from November to January we would continue to consult the Scottish Parliament.
Labour since Keir Hardie has been the Party of Home Rule for Scotland within the United Kingdom so the plan for a stronger Scottish Parliament we seek agreement on is for nothing else than a modern form of Scottish Home Rule within the United Kingdom, published by St Andrews Day on 30 November, with the draft laws around 25 January – interestingly enough by Burns Night.