Friday, 9 January 2009

What does "deeply integrated" mean?

"4.43 As well as a political Union, the UK is also a deeply integrated economic Union."
- Calman Commission, First Report, Page 33

"6.39 Tax devolution has potential for disruption to that trade"
- Calman Commission, First Report, Page 66

"9.8 With the rest of the UK, Scotland forms a deep and well-integrated single market"
- Calman Commission, First Report, Page 100

Why does Calman precede the expression single market with the qualification "deeply integrated" or "deep and well-integrated"?

What does this mean?

And the second quote above says "Tax devolution has potential for disruption to that trade".

Yet as the quote from Gordon Brown in this post shows there is a lack of consistency here. After all he has said:

"I set up the Calman Commission to review devolution."
And by saying that tax devolution "has potential for disruption" is this not going further than just rejecting fiscal autonomy but setting the scene for a rejection of any devolution of tax powers?

How can the Liberal Democrats therefore continue in the Commission since they have set that as one of their main aims?

As well as the US example Brown uses it also doesn't stand up when you consider that Council Tax is not deeply integrated across the UK.

In Scotland there are 32 Unitary Authorities. Added to this there are 81 Counties, 354 Districts and 46 Unitary Authorities throughout England with different levels of Council Tax. Then there are the 12 Unitary Authorities in Wales.

On top of that the 43 police areas in England & Wales also have the power to "set a precept on the Council Tax."

And below that level "Parish councils receive funding by levying a "precept" on the council tax paid by the residents of the parish."

In fact Council Tax doesn't even cover the UK. In Northern Ireland they have rates which cover 26 Councils - soon to be 11.

Then we have Business rates. They are "uniform" but only at a Scottish, England & Wales and Northern Ireland level.

Is this differing tax levels not "disruptive" to the UK's internal trade as the Commission is saying? If not, why not?

And if the UK is so "deeply integrated" as a single market then why are there three separate Companies Houses for Scotland, Northern Ireland and England & Wales to cater for the three different legal systems?

By failing to address these matters which actually contradict the Commission's report the only conclusion can be that the qualification of "deeply integrated" is used so it can specifically refer to the UK if other international and state examples are broached.

In other words it means the "union" and absolute sovereignty remaining at Westminster.

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