Exact details on when Parliament will decide on the technicalities of Scottish devolution are still unclear – the government has not yet made any official commitment to implement Gordon Brown’s Home Rule framework.
There is no guarantee that Mr Brown’s plans will make it through Parliament given he is no longer in government, and it will be for the Coalition to get the legislation passed. This is the closest we have to a concrete plan at present, however, and George Osborne has hinted at something resembling this timetable in the past. We can therefore expect the coalition to sign up to the proposed plan in due course, if only to present a unified front against independence.
The key dates from Brown’s proposed plan are outlined below:
Formal initiation of bringing in additional powers to which all parties can contribute
A command paper published by the present government setting out all the proposals for change, and no later than the end of October. This will set out the plans for the Bill, including those issues on which there is agreement and disagreement.
Following a period, likely around a month, of discussion and consultation with civic society, a Heads of Agreement will be produced in the form of a White Paper.
Draft clauses will be drawn up ready for legislative enactment as the new Scotland Bill and Scotland Act, to be published on Burns Night (25 January). This will enable whichever party succeeds in May’s General Election to bring forward legislation immediately.