Talk of devolution yawns

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PEOPLE could be so bored of devolution talk that when a referendum happens it will be an anti-climax, says Lord Steel.

The former Liberal leader was asking “What Kind of Country?” in the Kirkgate Lecture, organised by a local church, which he gave in Linlithgow at the end of last month.

He told his audience: “One of my anxieties about the forthcoming referendum on the future of Scotland is that it is so long in coming that, after three years of parliamentary debates and endless radio and television discussions, not to mention the daily outpourings of newspaper columnists on the topic, we shall all be so bored that when it actually happens it will be something of an anti-climax.”

He agreed with the late Donald Dewar who often said, “devolution is not an event but a process”. And the former local MP added: “I support any commonsense moves to increase the power of the Scottish Parliament within the framework of the UK.”

Calling for a more democratic House of Lords, he said: “If Scotland continues in the UK it is all the more important that the SNP be represented in the Upper House, and in a revised constitution maybe it could even have a role assigned to it by the Scottish Parliament to act as a long-stop advisory reviewer of its legislation, thus responding to complaints that Holyrood at present has no such mechanism.”

He also said Scotland had two post-war failings: housing schemes and the “steady coursening of the public media”.