Smith: What might have been?

There have been several reports that the Smith Commission’s proposals have been overruled.  Some of them relate to abortion, which doesn’t seem to have been the substance of any consensus.   There is a meatier accusation, however, that tax and welfare powers were all watered down at the last minute, following a veto by the UK Cabinet.  A draft from the Tuesday preceding publication on the Thursday is cited, both by the BBC and by the Independent,  as saying this:

The Scottish Parliament will have the power to vary the personal allowance, the carer element, the child element, including the disabled child addition, the childcare costs element, the limited capability for work and work-related element and work allowance of UC [universal credit], child benefit & guardian’s allowance, maternity allowance, and the operations of Jobcentre Plus in Scotland, including the responsibility for designing and implementing the policies it applies.

This doesn’t look like a direct extract from the Commission report; it jumbles together different kinds of provision that the report deals with separately.  If it’s right, however, it’s disturbing.  The Cabinet appear to have taken the view that they had the right to remove recommendations, not because the powers should not be transferred, but because  they might be exercised in ways that  they disagreed with.  That is not what the process was supposed to be about.


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