Rennie: Liberal Democrats have been at the forefront of devolution

Speaking today on the 20th anniversary of the 1997 referendum for devolution, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie MSP said:

"Liberal Democrats are proud of the part we played in bringing about the devolution voted for in 1997 and enacted from 1999. A decentralised United Kingdom, with decision making closer to people, with a pluralist approach at its heart, reflected decades of campaigning for Britain to become a modern democracy.

"Liberal Democrats were part of the civic movement in Scotland, through the Constitutional Convention, that set down the clear path for a devolved parliament with real powers. And they were able to take up their places inside the newly elected Scottish Parliament after the first elections.

"Liberal Democrats can be proud that the big difference made to people’s lives in Scotland –free personal care for the elderly and the revolution in renewable energy to name just two – came as a result of the work of Liberal Democrats in the first term of office. People even now still demand that governments of all stripes get as much done in their terms of office as we did back then.

"The whole of the UK has benefited from devolution and the transfers of powers that have taken place since 1999.

"The sharing of power among different governments has allowed innovation in public policy. Take for example the smoking ban, now almost a decade old. It was the Lib-Lab Scottish Executive that agreed that its plans in 2006 would be for a comprehensive ban, rather than the more timid UK proposals.  

"It is a long-standing liberal belief that power should be shared. Modern, successful countries are more successful if fiscal power is not hoarded at the centre. Looking ahead devolved powers once again have the chance to set the agenda for the whole of the country from creating a world class education system to giving the attention that mental health deserves."

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