POLITICS

Scottish Independence Vote Will Secure Devolution Powers, Better Together Insists

21/09/2014 08:47 BST | Updated 21/09/2014 11:59 BST

Scotland should trust the promise of further powers will be delivered because of the "proven track record" of parties working together for change, according to senior figures in the Better Together campaign.

A motion to be laid before the UK parliament by the three main parties tomorrow sets out steps to deliver further devolution to Scotland within a tight timetable.

It comes in the wake of a pre-referendum vow made by David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg for Scotland to have additional powers if it rejected independence.

alistair darling

Alistair Darling insisted the main parties would deliver the promised powers

But after the vote, their united front showed signs of weakening as Tory MPs began criticising the timescale of implementing the powers and questions it raised about devolution for other parts of the UK.

Better Together leader Alistair Darling today insisted that the pledge will be acted upon within the timetable.

His Labour colleague, shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander, said previous work surrounding the Calman Commission proposals, many of which were adopted in the Scotland Act 2012, showed that the parties "have a track record of being able to work together to deliver change in Scotland".

The parliamentary motion, to be signed by the Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat leaders at Westminster, calls on the Government to lay down a command paper including the devolution proposals of all three parties by October 30. It also calls for the Government to publish heads of agreement by the end of November and for draft clauses of the new Scotland Bill to be ready by the end of January.

Under the plans, the legislation would be delivered by whichever government comes into office at next year's General Election.

Mr Darling said: "I spoke to both David Cameron and Ed Miliband on Friday when the (referendum) result was clear and there is no question whatsoever that this is the timetable, this is the commitment and we will deliver on it."

Mr Alexander said individual reports from each of the three parties on further Scottish devolution identified "broad areas of consensus and common ground in areas of powers to be devolved".

And he pointed to the Calman Commission process to review devolution, established after a 2007 vote in the Scottish Parliament backed by Labour, the Tories and Liberal Democrats.

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Of Labour at Westminster, he said: "We left office in May of 2010. It would have been open to the coalition government to strangle the Calman Commission proposals. Instead they embraced them and with cross party support a new Scotland Act was legislated for in 2011.

"In that sense we are in a position where we have a proven track record of being able to take areas of common ground and use established processes that have allowed us to be able to then deliver in this parliament."

He went on: "We have a track record of being able to work together to deliver change in Scotland.

"In that sense, that timetable will be adhered to and the proposals will be moved forward for the safer, faster, better change that most Scots voted for."

On the wider issue of further devolution across the rest of the UK, Mr Darling said the powers of the Welsh and Northern Irish assemblies need to be looked at, with the case for transferring greater economic powers to English cities and the size of the House of Lords.

"This can't just be a matter for politicians, the British public is entitled also to express a view," Mr Darling said.

"The other thing is when you start looking at the constitution, you do need to start looking at the House of Lords. You now have got a House of Lords that is far bigger than the House of Commons, which is elected.

"What I emphasise is the legislation in relation to the Scottish Parliament is distinct and separate from that, because that is a commitment, it's already decided, it's already promised and it will be delivered. But of course there are broader issues which need to be looked at."

The Labour MP for Edinburgh South West also hailed the "decisive" referendum result and said it settles the independence question for a generation.

He intends to make a decision about his own future, in terms of whether to stand as an MP at the next General Election, "over the next couple of weeks or so".

Better Together campaign director Blair McDougall said the campaign's political and organisational strategies were "vindicated" by the referendum result, where 55% of voters opted to remain in the UK.