[JURIST] UK’s commission on strengthening devolution, the Smith Commission [official website], concluded on Thursday that Scotland’s parliament should have more independence in certain matters. The commission, which was set up [press release] by Prime Minister David Cameron [official website], recommended that Scotland’s parliament should have the power to decide Scotland’s income tax rates, the voting age, welfare payments and should have a consultative role in reviewing the BBC Charter. The announcement follows Scotland’s vote against independence [JURIST report]. Though Scotland’s government welcomed the announcement, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon found the commission’s decision disappointing because the Scottish parliament would still be responsible for only less than half of the money they will spend.
In September voters in Scotland voted against independence from the UK in the country’s first national referendum on the matter. The recent push for a referendum regarding Scotland’s independence has marked a turning point [JURIST report] in the decades-long negotiations between Scotland and the UK. If Scotland became independent it would have had to apply for separate EU membership, according to a report [JURIST report] released in February by HM Treasury [official website], the UK’s economic and finance ministry. Last October Cameron and former Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond [official website] formally agreed to hold the referendum [JURIST report] regarding the independence of Scotland, potentially ending the union between the two nations in place since the Union with England Act of 1707 [text]. Drafts of the referendum differed considerably in terms and direction from the original [JURIST report], presented in February 2010.