The Scottish Conservatives’ devolution commission has not proposed the devolution of the Crown Estates to Scotland, despite a recommendation from the Scottish Affairs Committee in 2012.
Westminster’s Scottish Affairs Committee, a third of which is made up by Conservative MPs, published a report in 2012 which said that control over the Crown Estates should be handed down to Edinburgh, subject to agreement that the Scottish Government would seek to decentralise their administration.
The 288-page report identified “major issues” over the Crown Estate Commissioner’s (CEC’s) responsibilities in Scotland and said “the only way in which to address these fundamental issues is that the CEC’s responsibilities for the administration and revenues of the ancient Crown property, rights and interests in Scotland be ended”.
This recommendation has been taken up by the Labour Party, but the Conservatives have shied away, despite characterising their proposals as a “radical plan”.
The Conservative proposals go further than Labour’s in certain areas, like control over income tax, but Crown Estates earn no mention in the final 24-page report by the Strathclyde Commission.
Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson MSP said the report’s recommendations are “about modern Conservative principles of accountability, responsibility and doing the right thing for the Scottish people” and “will inform our 2015 General Election manifesto”.
Her endorsement of further devolution is a marked shift from her campaign for the Tory leadership in 2011, when she said the provisions of the Scotland Act 2012 were “the line in the sand” and there would be “no march to fiscal autonomy”.
Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said that the implementation of the Strathclyde Commission recommendations would “still not allow Scotland to get the full benefits of controlling our own finances”.