By a Newsnet Reporter
The SNP has called again for the release of Scotland's hidden devolution files in the interests of fairness and transparency during the debate on Scotland's independence referendum in 2014.
Over 30 files covering the Labour Government's 1997 devolution policy were set to be published at the start of the year under Scotland's 15-year rule, but have been kept under lock and key at the request of the Scotland Office.

The files were due to be released with almost 400 others until the Scotland Office intervened to stop the release of the 36 files relating to Tony Blair's Scottish Parliament proposals.  The SO asked to inspect the documents before making a judgment at a later date on whether they can be published.

Brian Wilson, who was a Scottish Office minister in 1997, has said: "I am a supporter of maximum transparency and have no problem with anything that took place at that time coming into the public domain.  It would be very strange if there had not been robust inter-departmental exchanges on such a significant piece of legislation."

However, a source close to the Scottish Government said the Scotland Office was cautious about releasing the files as it could provide a "gift" to the SNP, who would leap on any suggestion that ministers in the Blair government had watered down the devolution policy.

It is now seven weeks since Jamie Hepburn MSP first wrote to Alistair Darling asking asking former Labour MP to back calls for the UK government to release the files, but his letter has yet to be even acknowledged by the former UK chancellor - who was a government minister when the documents were compiled.

This renewed call comes a week after previously unpublished documents revealed that Rosyth naval dockyard lost out on a £5 billion naval contract in the 1990s after John Major's Tory government ignored evidence showing the Fife site was cheaper and safer to run than the eventual contract winner based in the south of England.

The Rosyth papers include claims by senior civil servants of the Ministry of Defence’s “south of England bias”, and were said by the SNP to demonstrate the MoD’s “utter disregard for Scotland”.

Mr Hepburn said:

“It is very strange that the UK Government wants to keep these files secret - it raises the question of what the Westminster system has to hide?

“The Chairman of the No campaign Alistair Darling must know, because he was a member of the then UK Labour Government when these files were compiled.

“I wrote to Mr Darling seven weeks ago calling on him to support my call for the files to be released - but he has not even had the courtesy to acknowledge the letter.

“The files relate to devolution, but may well contain information of relevance as we debate Scotland's future as an independent country.  What Scotland needs is transparency so that people can make the most informed decision possible.

"I hope that Mr Darling will now support my call for the publication of Scotland's devolution files - otherwise people may start to ask what he has to hide?”


# X_Sticks 2013-02-25 10:49
“It is very strange that the UK Government wants to keep these files secret - it raises the question of what the Westminster system has to hide?"

As I have said before, I am of the opinion that westminster has a LOT to hide when it comes to Scotland. Not only the politics, but also the finances. We know from experience that westminster has a rotten core and that they've never been above lying and cheating.
# robert de brus 2013-02-25 18:13

Just wondering if you have ever come across this before?
# nipper 2013-03-18 22:00
This is also worth a look X_Sticks.
# UpSpake 2013-02-25 12:12
Perhaps the reality that both Major and later Blair wanted no truck with devolution to Scotland.
Despite the threat to them of sanctions from the Council of Europe they continued to bat the ball around until the threats became real.
Under pressure from the Scotland-UN committee here in Scotland and the barrage of information on Scotland's plight sent to all 56 member states of the OSCE, Westminster caved.
However, what Scotland received, a neutered Parliament is prehaps not what was told to the CofE. Since the people of Scotland did not riot in the streets and otherwise, kept silent, I'm sure these papers will show that the Blair government 'got away with it' in hoodwinking the Scottish people.
We have remained hoodwinked, ever since.
# Sunshine on Crieff 2013-02-25 18:49
Despite the threat to them of sanctions from the Council of Europe they continued to bat the ball around until the threats became real.

What threats were these?
# James 2013-02-26 17:56
There was a list of escalating sanctions, culminating in expulsion of the UK from the Council of Europe, if the UK did not “fully and swiftly comply with the basic democratic principles that are at the heart of the European Ideal.” Expulsion would have had devastating international consequences, especially just a few weeks before the UK presidency of the European Union.

Tony Blair was also - "kicking and screaming" - compelled to sign the European Charter of Local Self-Government, after the Tories had dragged their feet on it for years. You can read an outline of the story at:


Or a fuller version in the Scotland-UN Committee papers at:
# theycantbeserious 2013-02-25 12:16
....and worse! The rotten foundations of imperialism are crumbling, therefore the house will not stand!


# The_Duke 2013-02-25 12:32
I totally agree X Sticks.

Just musing to myself, I wonder if this could be another chance (As per Scottish_skier's theory) for the Tories to get one up on Labour. Imagine if there was to be an increased call for the files to be released from the SNP.. only to be denied by the Scottish Office (Mick Moore) and Capt Darling.... finally DC "caving" in, and giving the go ahead and releasing the files thus embarrassing both Moore, Darling and Labour all in one go.

Just a thought. Will be interesting to see how this pans out
# RTP 2013-02-25 12:37
As Darling has not replied to the MSP I have emailed him if he could reply to me and give his reasons why he will not ask the Scottish Office to release the papers.Will let you know if I get an answer.
# Caledonian Lass 2013-02-25 13:37
They won't want to release the secret files because it would expose all their devious antics. Maybe some parts of the files would be as explosive as the McCrone Report.

The theft of the 6,000 square miles of Scottish sea would be there for all to see along with their reasons for doing so.

In the event of publication of these files there would be a lot of red faces from the usual suspects.
# bringiton 2013-02-25 15:22
I do wonder about whether releasing the papers might reveal the extent of the opposition to any sort of Scottish devolution from the current head of the No campaign.
I can't think of any other reason why they wouldn't release the papers.
# robert de brus 2013-02-25 15:50
I think you will find that releasing these papers will show detailed secret government plans in the 1970s to prevent Scotland laying claim to North Sea oil. They most likely will show the extraordinary lengths to which civil servants were prepared to go to head off devolution, which was seen then as inevitably leading to independence.
# Rafiki 2013-02-25 17:10
Since the papers should be released under the 15 year rule, could a Freedom of Information request be made? This Act has been used extensively by the Unionists to try and embarrass the SNP.

Or is this refusal the basis of the Better Together manifesto?
# gus1940 2013-02-25 18:08
I wonder if this will make BBC Scotland and/or The MSM.
# Am Fògarrach 2013-02-25 23:38
A lot of what Darling and the Scotland Office are trying to keep hidden is readily available at .../Devolution%20and%20the%20Labour%20Myth_R.pdf. Even more details available at papers in the National Library of Scotland.
# Am Fògarrach 2013-02-26 01:28
The SDA realise that Scotland might need to stay with Sterling until it becomes better known in the financial world, but it would be free to change to a Scots Merk at any time. See .../SDA%20Monetary%20Policy.pdf and .../Scotland%20in%20Europe.pdf.

The Scottish Government has a fixation that Scotland should be a member of the European Union. This would be a bad mistake even if Scotland could immediately adopt the euro.

If Scotland becomes a member of the EU it can never be truly independent. Scotland will merely exchange its present vassalage to Westminster for permanent vassalage to Brussels.
# rob4i 2013-02-26 09:57
Hi, # Sunshine on Crieff, to answer your query, the Council of Europe pre-1997 stated that Westminster was governing Scotland in an illegal quasi-colonial fashion and because of this was hindering the passage of new breakaway countries joining the EU and forced them to change the way they operated and threatened them with sanctions if they refused to sort ot out.

So when Labour claimed to give Scotland their devolved administration they did so under duress from the EU, there lies the real truth!!
# James 2013-02-26 18:16
The files covering the Labour Cabinet discussions are explosive, but the important ones are the records of the Foreign Office and Cabinet Office back to 1993, when the CoE European Summit took up the issue.

The international authorities had to force devolution on the UK, because they could not oblige the reforming ex-communist states of Eastern Europe to adhere to the international standards of pluralist democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights while leaving such a colonial system of government of Scotland and Wales by Secretary of State intact.

The Scotland-UN Committee took the issue up with every CoE member state individually, and in effect got the present devolved system established with a barefaced piece of diplomatic blackmail. It is no wonder that "they" don't want to publish the details.

The EU had absolutely nothing to do with it. It was the 47-member Council of Europe in Strasbourg that forced the issue in the end.
# Breeks 2013-02-26 14:18
Shame we're not talking about the 1979 referendum. The 40% rule which denied Scotland devolution in 1979 was introduced by Labour's George Cunningham, a Scot in an English seat, (Islington South and Finsbury).

But, back on topic, just contrast the way this lack of transparent accountability by Westminster is being 'forensically probed' (not) by the MSM, and compare it with the virtual witch hunt of Alex Salmond when Labour merely thought he was withholding legal advice.

The hypocrisy and double standards make you sick.

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