What could a Scottish parliament do?

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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).
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)68-85
Number of pages18
JournalRegional & Federal Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1998


  • Scotland
  • Scottish politics
  • Scottish independence
  • Scottish parliament

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