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What could a Scottish parliament do?

Mitchell, James (1998) What could a Scottish parliament do? Regional and Federal Studies, 8 (1). 68 - 85.

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Abstract

Discussions of the powers of the proposed Scottish Parliament often begin and end with a definition of its competencies. However, a number of considerations are required to ascertain the real scope of any Scottish parliament, its autonomy and its powers. A distinction between power and responsibility needs to be drawn at the outset of any discussion. To devolve responsibilities without power is the devolution of penury (Meny and Wright, 1985: 7). The centre in various systems of government have often devolved difficult decisions to local parliaments and tiers of government. The 'new federalism' under Reagan in the United States was a classic example of this. Reagan declared support for the restoration of American federalism. In practice this involved devolving responsibilities to the states and halting many of the federal government's subsidies to the states (McKay, 1985). The key to any understanding of the extent to which powers or simply responsibilities are being devolved is finance. The grant stnacture rather than tax levying powers of the Scottish Parliament will be crucial in this respect (see contribution by Heald).