The long road to back to devolution…

I’m putting together a presentation of Northern Ireland devolution within the UK context. It’s fascinating to me that whilst we have had a long history of demanding some form of ‘home rule’, both the Scots and the Welsh were comparatively lukewarm, yet they have been up and running, making decisions and developing ever fitter civil society, whilst we’ve been talking about why we’re not talking. A reminder of the journey so far.

  • Occasional Commenter

    While we’re comparing Northern Ireland, Welsh, and Scottish devolution, can anyone explain the similarities and differences between the powers available to each?

    Can the Scottish Parliament do almost whatever it wants except have a foreign policy?

  • D’Oracle

    Of course its been a trek, Mick. Allowing for your philosophical mood, the North does have a number of unique features or least ones which do not apply or apply to the same extent in the Scotland or Wales cases.

  • Henry94

    Occasional Commenter

    The Scots are restricted in tax policy too. The English like to advocate tax competition in Europe but they don’t like the idea too close to home. The fact that Scotland can’t negotiate for itself at EU level is the bigget weekness in the current set-up.

    We should be looking for the right to set taxes in the north so we can get in line with the rest of the island and. That would wipe out smugglling and actually bring an increased return in revenues.

  • barnshee

    Fiscal ignorance here astounds me- makes me wonder about other issues -similar ignorance??

    If NI is in the UK then UK tax rules hold sway. To change the tax rules for NI (or Scotland or Wales) and reduce taxes to make eg road fuel cheaper would simply mean that internal frontiers would have to be set up to prevent people shopping by price.
    (Remember the days when booze and fuel were miles cheaper in the north and fortunes were made smuggling items south. )

    The hard fact of life is that SE England taxation “surplus” is redistributed across Scotland, N Ireland Wales etc to provide standards of living otherwise unobtainable.

    As almost an aside I saw the SF/IRA party whining about the lack of government aid for the poor flooded publicans in derry/Londonderry (as you quaintly call it.) Have they no pride? what sort on republicns are they asking the British Taxpayer to bail them out? also has the minister no balls —are the words F(oxtrot) O(scar) not available.

  • Mick Fealty

    Scotland has the ability to invoke tax varying powers to +/- 3%, which it has thus far failed to invoke.

    The BBC carried some interesting polling evidence in their online coverage of the referendum at the time.

    Neither NI nor Wales yet possess such powers, but there’s a good argument that without them, the Assembly/Executive is entirely dependent on supplication to the Treasury, with little real responsibility for it’s own expenditure.

  • Henry94


    If NI is in the UK then UK tax rules hold sway.

    The argument is that those rules should be changed to allow the north to set its own rates

    To change the tax rules for NI (or Scotland or Wales) and reduce taxes to make eg road fuel cheaper would simply mean that internal frontiers would have to be set up to prevent people shopping by price.

    Has Ireland’s internal frontier prevented it? No it has not and the north is losing out. You are whinging about people in Derry looking for help from a goovernment which won’t give us the fiscal instruments we need to help ourselves.

    With the right set of tax policies the north could become self-financing within 10 years and then we could help our own flood victims. But you can’t insist that London has control of the money and then whinge when people look to London for help in an emergency.

  • James

    Are there any local taxing powers available? This is the context in which I am asking the question:

    San Jose can levies a sales tax. It collects use and licensing fees i.e., my business licence as well as the pet licences I bought Tuesday.
    Santa Clara County levies a sales tax. It collects property taxes, use fees and fines.
    The State of California levies an income tax. It also collects property taxes on boats and automobiles, as well as excise taxes, use fees and fines.
    The United States collects an income tax. It also collects use fees, excise taxes, fines, tariffs and a whole buncha other stuff.

    This enables us to do one hell of a lot at the city and county level and yet pass the big ticket items up to the state and the feds.

  • IJP


    There are local ‘rates’ paid by property owners to local district councils, but beyond that it’s all done at UK (=’federal’) level.


    It’s a very interesting argument that the lack of regional tax powers (even +/- 3% is hardly significant) in fact encourages left-wing economics in devolved assemblies because, well, you might as well – Big Brother Westminster will pay for it anyway.

    Real tax powers (e.g. half of income tax paid at regional level) are unlikely to be devolved, as it would blatantly cost the Treasury too much power (in its eyes). This runs unfortunately counter to my own view, that tax should as far as possible be raised at the level the decisions are made, and that decisions should be made as locally as possible (allowing for the fact that ‘too local’ almost invariably leads to corruption).

    Nevertheless even without tax powers I wouldn’t underestimate the potential power of a regional assembly in Northern Ireland. Whether it chooses to use that power is another question (the evidence from throughout its existent is that NI mimics England/Wales legislation a few years later regardless).