white paper

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by John Curtice, ESRC Fellow and  ScotCen Social Research

To have a prospect of being a ‘game changer’, at least so far as the balance of public opinion is concerned, the independence White Paper needed to have hit two buttons.

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by Nicola McEwen, ESRC Fellow, University of Edinburgh

It used to be called the DVLA question. A vision of Scottish independence which is embedded within the British Isles, with lots of cross-border arrangements and services jointly delivered. In the White Paper published this week, the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency is in fact one of the institutions that would be replaced by a Scottish body after independence, but there are many more where the Scottish government wants continuity and shared service delivery.

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Designing an appropriate system of benefits and social protection is an important task for any modern state. The first thing the White Paper does is set out the broad principles that the Scottish Government says would guide its long-term approach in an independent Scotland. These include the better integrating the design of taxes, benefits and public services, and an emphasis on a ‘preventative approach’ that is hoped to reduce costs and improve outcomes. These are laudable aims.

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The general aspirations for the tax system set out in the White Paper, such as wanting ‘a simple and transparent tax system’, are admirable. But all governments espouse such goals. The question is what specific changes an independent Scottish government would implement that would make it more successful in achieving those goals than successive UK governments have been.

Not unreasonably, the White Paper postpones most such specifics, proposing ‘a more significant review of the tax system in the early years of independence’. Radical reform should not be rushed.

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Latest blogs

  • 6th February 2016

    In the first of a series of analyses of the Scottish parties’ manifesto proposals from the University of Stirling and Centre on Constitutional Change, David Bell and David Eiser consider the Labour proposals for income tax announced recently.

  • 4th February 2016

    In the recent debate between Nigel Farage and Carwyn Jones, the First Minister's reliance on the risks of an 'Out' vote is unlikely to provide a convincing enough argument to persuade voters of the benefits to Wales of being part of the ‘two Unions’, say Dr Jayne Woolford and Dr Jo Hunt of Cardiff University's School of Law and Politics.

  • 3rd February 2016

    Earlier this week a report by an expert panel, supported by our colleagues at the Wales Governance Centre and the Constitution Unit at UCL, recommended that parliamentarians should vote to reject the Draft Wales Bill. In an extended blog, one of the members of that panel, Alan Trench of Devolution Matters, explains their reasoning.

  • 1st February 2016

    A report by an independent review group consisting of constitutional and legislative experts says that they could not recommend that politicians in Cardiff Bay and Westminster support the Draft Wales Bill in its current form.

  • 25th January 2016

    Labour in Wales may be facing a tough election in May 2016 but unlike its Scottish counterpart, says Prof Roger Scully, it is likely to benefit from a divided opposition.

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