50 Questions The No Camp Must Answer
They’re an evasive mob when quizzed about what will happen in the event of a No vote. No seems to stand for No Alt White Paper, No Straight Answers, No Much Of A Clue. This slipperiness will come unstuck as Scots ask them, quite reasonably, to spell out their alternative to Independence. Here are 50 questions seeking answers…
The First Eleven
1. What new powers is Holyrood guaranteed in the event of a No vote?
2. Can you guarantee future Westminster governments will retain the Barnett formula, which is used to calculate Scotland’s annual grant from the Treasury?
3. What will the impact be on Scottish families of the £25bn of new public spending cuts announced by the Chancellor this month?
4. Can you guarantee Scotland will still be in the EU in 2020 if there’s a No vote?
5. What extra powers will be devolved to Scotland to grow the working population?
6. How many more children will be living in poverty in Scotland in 2020 as a result of Westminster policies?
7. What steps will be taken to close the growing gap between rich and poor?
8. What will the UK’s national debt be in 2016?
9. Will an Oil Fund be established in the event of a No vote, as we plan after a Yes vote?
10. How many UK army, naval and air force personnel will be based in Scotland in 2020?
11. How much will Scottish taxpayers have to pay for the replacement of the Trident nuclear weapons system?
Finance and taxes
12. If the Barnett formula is scrapped, by how much would Scotland’s budget be cut after a No vote?
13. If the Barnett formula is retained, by how much would Scotland’s budget be cut after a No vote?
14. What will UK personal tax rates be in 2016 and beyond, and how will Westminster improve the tax system, including collection?
15. Will the rate of VAT be increased, cut, or stay the same in 2016 and beyond?
16. What will be the level of Air Passenger Duty (APD) in 2016 and beyond?
17. Why has APD not been devolved to the Scottish Parliament, as recommended by the Calman Commission on devolved powers?
18. Will a system be put in place to guarantee the minimum wage will always rise – at least in line with the cost of living?
19. What additional tax powers will be devolved to Scotland in the event of a No vote?
20. What additional economic powers will be devolved to Scotland?
21. What powers will be given to Scotland to combat – in Business Secretary Vince Cable’s words – the “giant suction machine” of London?
22. What will you do to narrow the huge regional differences in GDP per head, which are greater in the UK than in any other EU country?
23. What additional powers will be devolved to increase women’s participation in the labour market?
24. What additional measures will be devolved to Scotland to boost Research and Development?
25. Will additional competitive powers be devolved to encourage major firms to locate their HQs in Scotland?
26. Will corporation tax be devolved to give businesses in Scotland a competitive edge?
27. What powers will be devolved to encourage re-industrialisation and halt manufacturing decline?
28. Will the post-study work visa be re-introduced?
Social justice, families and health
29. Will the UK still be one of the most unequal countries in the developed world?
30. Will all current universal and pensioner benefits remain – or will some be means-tested?
31. In the event of a No vote, will you guarantee funding for fund a long-term expansion of childcare in Scotland to match the best provision in Europe?
32. Will Scotland’s age profile be taken into account when decisions over the state pension age are made?
33. What will be the state retirement age for people in Scotland who are starting work this year?
34. Will the bedroom tax be abolished?
35. Will the bedroom tax be extended to pensioners – as suggested recently by an MP from one of the No campaign parties? Julian Brazier – MP for Canterbury
36. Have you assessed the impact Westminster welfare cuts will have on Scotland’s NHS?
37. The NHS in England is being privatised. Given that cuts in funding for public services in England trigger cuts in the Scottish budget, has any study been done of the impact on Scotland of NHS privatisation in England.
38. The Tories have just one MP in Scotland, yet are leading the Westminster government. How can Scotland get the government it votes for?
39. Nine out of 10 Scottish MPs voted against the bedroom tax. How can you ensure the views of Scottish MPs are not ignore in future?
40. Royal Mail has been privatised what guarantees can you give that other public services will not be privatised against the views of Scottish MPs?
41. How much money per year will taxpayers in Scotland be expected to contribute to funding the unelected House of Lords?
EU and Defence
42. When will an In/Out referendum be held on the UK’s EU membership?
43. If a majority of people in Scotland vote to remain members of the EU in an In/Out vote – going against the grain – what will happen to Scotland?
44. If the UK government fails to renegotiate the UK’s EU membership terms, will it recommend withdrawal?
45. Will Scotland get any direct representation in Europe to negotiate for our fishing and farming industries after a No vote?
46. If Scotland had been independent during the most recent EU farming talks we would have qualified for an extra €1 billion of funding. How will that shortfall be made up?
47. Scotland currently receives the lowest farm payments of any country in the EU. Will this continue?
48. What guarantee is there that Scotland will not be hit again by disproportionate defence staff cuts in the future?
49. Will the 7,000 service personnel promised to be returned from Germany to Scotland ever arrive?
50. How much money will be spent on the replacement of Trident with a new generation of nuclear weapons?