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Timetable for new Holyrood powers

A detailed timetable will be unveiled today setting out how quickly new powers could be transferred to Holyrood if next week’s referendum sees Scotland reject independence.

The leaders of Labour, the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats in Scotland will join together for this morning’s key announcement.

The pro-union Better Together campaign has denied the move is a panic measure to shore up support, although it increasingly appears as if the referendum contest is too close to call.

A new TNS poll today found support for independence and staying in the UK was tied at 41% each among those who are certain to vote, while a YouGov study two days ago put Yes ahead for the first time in the contest.

But with just over a week until the September 18 referendum, Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond has already dismissed the timetable for more powers from the Westminister parties as a “bribe” that has been made ” because the Yes side is winning on the ground”.

Former prime minister Gordon Brown last night set out his proposed schedule for new powers to be transferred north, saying work on this would start immediately after the referendum.

Mr Brown e nvisions a ”command paper” to be published by the present UK Government setting out all the proposals for change no later than the end of October.

A white paper would be drawn up in November after a period of consultation with draft clauses for legislation expected in January.

He declared a No vote next week would be the ” starting gun for action” adding: ” On September 19 we will start bringing into law the new, stronger Scottish Parliament, and to secure the change we want we will work with the other parties.”

As the pro-union parties reveal more details of further devolution, Mr Salmond will be urging Scots to reject that and instead vote for independence as he campaigns in Edinburgh.

He will insist that an independent Scotland will continue to be a member of the European Union as he meets supporters from other countries who will declare “w e are all European citizens”.

Such is the concern among those at Westminster, some have even called for the Queen to declare her views, according to the Daily Telegraph.

Labour MP Simon Danczuk told the paper: “It would mean something to the people of England and Scotland. It would be welcomed – I don’t think it would be improper.”

But royal aides have said the Queen will remain neutral, the paper claimed.

And Henry Bellingham MP, a former Tory minister in the coalition, added: “We are talking about the possible dismemberment of the United Kingdom. It is legitimate for people to take notice of her views.”

Meanwhile, Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will join anti-poverty campaigner and Labour member Bob Holman in the east end of Glasgow, where she will insist a Yes vote could create a fairer Scotland.

Mr Holman took UK Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith around Easterhouse in 2002, when the Conservative MP was leader of his party

Speaking ahead of the visit Mr Holman said: “We need independence to reverse the social decline in communities like Easterhouse. I have been working here for years, and it has never been so deprived as now. I meet residents who have insufficient money for food in a society with a growing number of millionaires.

“Scotland already has devolved powers over health and education. However, advances in these areas require taking action to reduce poverty. This can only be achieved with the powers that will accompany independence.”

He added: ” I will be voting Yes to get the powers we need to deal with the challenges in our society. I am a Labour member and, after a Yes vote, I have no intention of leaving the Labour party. My hope is that radical advances in an independent Scotland would persuade Labour, dare I say it, to adopt a socialist programme.”

The SNP plans to raise the minimum wage in line with inflation if it is in power after a Yes vote and has also set out proposals for a massive expansion of free child care to help working families,

Ms Sturgeon said: ” I’m delighted to join Bob in Easterhouse today – a community he knows better than anyone. His work fighting poverty has been an inspiration – and it is fantastic that he is among one of the hundreds of thousands of lifelong Labour supporters who will be voting Yes next week.

“This referendum isn’t about the SNP or Labour – it’s fundamentally about who we think is best to take decisions governing Scotland. More and more people are realising a Yes vote is a golden opportunity to transform Scotland into the fairer society we all want to see. We will do this by taking action on poverty and inequality. ”

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