UK commitment to Calman questioned

Mike Russell, SNP MSP and Scottish Government Minister for Culture, External Affairs and the Constitution has questioned the UK Government’s commitment to implementing “proposals” in the Calman Commission after it was revealed the version of the Queen’s Speech published on the UK Government’s website omitted any reference to the Commission.

Delivering the speech, the Queen said: “In Scotland, my Government will take forward proposals in the final report of the Commission Scottish devolution. My Government will continue to devolve more powers to Wales.”

That did not initially appear on the Downing Street website version of the Queen’s Speech – appended below.

Mr Russell also pointed to Welsh Liberal Democrat support for a constitutional referendum in Wales, on the day that the All Wales Convention report is published.

Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Kirsty Williams is quoted in the Press Association: “The report itself provides a devastating critique of the existing, half-baked settlement, confirming my belief that a referendum will allow Wales to choose a better, proper settlement, fit for the purpose of truly devolved Welsh Government.”

Mr Russell said:

“There is enormous confusion about where exactly the opposition parties in Scotland stand on the issue of constitutional progress for Scotland – which today’s events add to. The Queen’s Speech said that the UK Government will take forward some – not all – proposals of the Calman Commission, but even that meagre reference was initially missing from the version of the speech published on the Number 10 website.

“It begs the question of how committed the UK Labour Government really is to additional responsibilities for the Scottish Parliament. It looks very much as if Scotland was a last minute afterthought in the Queen’s Speech – and only included by Labour at a late stage to create the pretence of some kind of commitment. On an issue where there is consensus in Scotland and in the Scottish Parliament, it is a great pity that the UK Government can’t or won’t get its act together.

“And on the day the All Wales Convention report is published, it is extraordinary to hear the leader of the Liberal Democrats in the Welsh Assembly wax lyrical about a constitutional referendum for Wales – while the Lib Dem leadership in Holyrood currently stand with the Tory/Labour alliance in refusing to let the people of Scotland speak.

“Instead of Calman confusion from the UK Labour Government, we need clarity and commitment to implementing the proposals that we should all agree on now. And instead of saying one thing in Wales and the precise opposite in Scotland, the Lib Dems should be consistently in favour of a free and fair referendum for both nations.”