The SNP is today accusing the UK Government of abandoning the Smith Commission – after it was revealed that the UK Crown Estate will be able to build up a new portfolio in Scotland after the devolution of the existing portfolio to Scotland.
During questioning at a session of the Scottish Parliament’s Devolution Committee today, it emerged that following an agreement with the UK Government, the UK Crown Estate would still be able to make new investments and build up a new portfolio of land in Scotland – the surplus revenue of which would flow to the Treasury rather than to the Scottish Government.
SNP MSP Linda Fabiani, who is a member of the Committee and represented the SNP on the Smith Commission, made clear that this decision ran contrary to her understanding of what was discussed at the Smith Commission itself.
Land reform expert Andy Wightman has already warned that the UK Government’s proposal for the Crown Estate is a “wholly unnecessary device that has the potential to confuse matters and contradict the core Smith recommendation” which is “a recipe for confusion, conflict and chaos”.
Commenting, Ms Fabiani said:
“This represents nothing less than an abandonment of the Smith Commission agreement by the UK Government – no wonder experts are telling us that Westminster’s plans are a ‘recipe for confusion, conflict and chaos’.
“Despite what was agreed by all the parties in the Smith Commission, the Westminster Government has unilaterally decided that the UK Crown Estate should be able to continue to buy up land and assets in Scotland – with all the revenue flowing to the Treasury in London rather than benefitting people in Scotland.
“In effect, the UK Government’s plans would mean there are two Crown Estates operating in Scotland at the same time – this idea isn’t just bizarre, it’s completely unsustainable.
“The UK Government simply can’t get away with this ludicrous plan which goes entirely against the spirit of the Smith Commission proposals. They must listen to the experts and ensure that full responsibility for the Crown Estate and its assets are in Scotland’s hands- rather than allowing the UK Crown Estate to continue hoovering up Scotland’s wealth and assets as if nothing had changed.”