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  1. Politics
27 November 2014updated 24 Jul 2021 1:56am

The Smith Commission recommends devolving full income tax powers to Scotland

The Commission tasked with deciding which powers to devolve to Scotland's recommendations will make life tricky for Labour.

By Anoosh Chakelian

The Smith Commission was set up following a No vote in the Scottish referendum to decide on further devolution to Scotland. The key area of disagreement between the main political parties was how many tax powers would be handed to Scotland, with Labour opposing full control over income tax. However, it is reported today that the Commission is to recommend devolving full control over income tax rates and bands to Holyrood. This was decided at the body’s final meeting.

This ruling, of huge significance to Scotland and its nationalists and Unionists alike, will be tricky for the Labour party. The former Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown called the Tories’ wish to devolve full tax-raising powers to Scotland a “Tory plot”, because he thought the party wanted to use this as a reason to introduce “English votes for English laws”.

And indeed, this is exactly what Tory backbencher John Redwood was calling for on the BBC’s Today programme this morning, saying: “England must now have her powers”. Redwood made the slightly ridiculous assertion that he “speaks for England”, but it is true his view is held by many in the Conservative party (indeed, it was included in their 2010 manifesto): English MPs only should vote on English taxes and legislation.

The Labour MP and candidate for the Scottish Labour leadership, Jim Murphy, told Today that he has “changed his mind” on the subject of how much fiscal power Scotland should have, as has his party, because they have reflected on “the wishes of the people of Scotland”. However, it won’t be as easy as a change of heart for Labour, as it’s clear the Commission’s findings have already sparked a new momentum for stopping Scottish MPs in parliament voting on English matters – something that could severely hamper a future Labour government.

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