Tuesday 3 February 2004

Are we free?

Here is another call for greater Scottish fiscal autonomy:
ROBERT Crawford, the former chief executive of Scottish Enterprise who resigned ten months ago following pressure over allegations of mismanagement at the quango, last night gave his backing to greater fiscal powers for Scotland.
I too agree with a movement towards fiscal responsibility for Scotland and there is a good document on this subject available as a pdf file ("Paying Our Way") from the Policy Institute's website.

Fiscal autonomy does not necessarily imply national independence, as Mr Crawford explains:

"I think the argument is a broader one than nationalism versus unionism. It’s a very sophisticated argument. You can get US states which have got far more powers in the economy than presently exist in Scotland and they happily exist in a federal system."
US states certainly do have far more freedom to manage their own affairs than does the Scottish Executive. Indeed, in some respects American states have more independence than does the UK government. Texas can decide whether or not it wants the death penalty. Florida is free to levy a sales tax and to decide the rate of such a tax. It can also decide not to have a sales tax. Washington has no say on these matters. The UK has no such freedom. EU rules forbid us from restoring the death penalty. Brussels also insists that we impose VAT and that it must be within certain tax bands.

Let's devolve power away from the mega-state down to the people, or at least to local politicians whom we can keep an eye on.