Guidelines for submissions

The Smith Commission’s terms of reference are as follows:

To convene cross-party talks and facilitate an inclusive engagement process across Scotland to produce, by 30 November 2014, Heads of Agreement with recommendations for further devolution of powers to the Scottish Parliament. This process will be informed by a Command Paper, to be published by 31 October and will result in the publication of draft clauses by 25 January. The recommendations will deliver more financial, welfare and taxation powers, strengthening the Scottish Parliament within the United Kingdom.

The Commission’s remit effectively makes clear that it must arrive at a set of proposals that command cross-party support.

The Commission has invited submissions from political parties, a wide range of business and civic organisations and the wider public to help guide its consideration of what further powers should be devolved to the Scottish Parliament. The Commission welcomes all such submissions, and will give them due weight in arriving at its final conclusions.

With that in mind, we have produced the following guidelines to help ensure that the content of submissions received best assists us in meeting our terms of reference. The Commission would like to emphasise that these have been produced for guidance only – all submissions will be considered. However, submissions that answer the following key questions, where relevant, are likely to be most helpful to the Commission in its work.


In arriving at its conclusions, and in pursuing final heads of agreement between the political parties, the Commission will have regard to the following matters when analysing proposals received:

  • What are the principles underpinning your proposals?

    For example, do the proposals seek to enhance the financial authority of the Scottish Parliament, enable the delivery of jobs or social justice, or enhance the strength of the constitutional settlement as a whole? Answers to these sorts of questions will be very important in helping us understand how the proposals fit into an overall package of further devolution. We are keen to avoid a simple “shopping list” of further powers.

  • What is your assessment of the current situation?

    For example, at what level is the power currently exercised? What is your view of the drawbacks and advantages of this?

  • What would be the potential advantages to Scotland and the UK as a whole (and/or its constituent nations) of devolving the power in question to the Scottish Parliament?

    For example, how would devolving the power in question be likely to improve Scotland’s economic performance or assist the Scottish Government and/or local authorities in tackling poverty or social exclusion? Could devolving the power help create efficiencies or alleviate burdens on Government, business or households? Could it strengthen the single UK market, or affect economic behaviour?

  • What would be the potential disadvantages to Scotland and the UK as a whole (and/or its constituent nations) of devolving the power in question to the Scottish Parliament?

    For example, could devolving the power in question have a negative impact on Scotland or the UK’s overall finances (including the deficit)? Could devolving the power weaken the United Kingdom’s political, economic or social union? Could it create inefficiencies or burdens on Government, business or households?

  • To what extent do the advantages outweigh the disadvantages (or vice versa)?

    For example, if there are financial costs involved in devolving the power, to what extent are those costs likely to be recovered through efficiencies or improved economic or social outcomes?

  • What are the interdependencies between your proposal and other key issues?

    For example, if the proposal relates to income tax, what might be the impact on borrowing powers, welfare powers, pensions tax relief, etc.? Are there any clear links to other proposals for devolution?

  • Are there any practical or legal barriers or difficulties to implementing the proposal? How might these be overcome?

    For example, are there likely to be administrative or organisational difficulties in implementing the proposal? Does sufficient expertise lie at the devolved level to implement the proposal effectively? Are there any barriers in EU law to devolving the power in question?

  • What would be the financial advantages or costs involved in implementing the proposal, and who would bear or benefit from these?

    For example, how much might start up costs be? What would administrative costs be likely to be on an ongoing basis?

All submissions, or any queries about submissions, should be sent to the following email address:


The Smith Commission secretariat