The Smith Commission Report was released this morning, outlining the powers that will be devolved from Westminster to the Scottish parliament in Holyrood. One detail stood out above all others.
Scotland will have more tax-raising powers, more control over welfare spending and the structure of its welfare system and the Scottish Parliament will gain more control over the organisation of elections, which opens the possibility of 16 and 17-year-olds getting the vote. But none of these is the most significant detail.
On p26, paragraph 95 (5) of the report is the sub-heading “Borrowing Powers”. The report states that: “Scotland’s fiscal framework should provide sufficient, additional borrowing powers to ensure budgetary stability and provide safeguards to smooth Scottish public spending in the event of economic shocks.
“The Scottish Government should also have sufficient borrowing powers to support capital investment, consistent with a sustainable overall UK fiscal framework.”
This new borrowing power is fiscally and politically the most significant change that is being suggested today. The details are scant, and a reassurance is given that: “Borrowing powers should be set within an overall Scottish fiscal framework and subject to fiscal rules agreed by the Sco…