Health, housing, law and order, transport and issues relating to children are all areas where Scotland has seen major progress since devolution. The ban on smoking in public places, free personal care, the transformational change programme Getting it Right for Every Child - ensuring every child in Scotland gets the help they need, when they need it, an internationally acclaimed approach to homelessness, and record numbers of police are just a few of the examples covered by this paper.
Despite such achievements and the wide extent of devolution in these areas the Scottish Parliament is constrained by the current devolution settlement in how it can tailor policy to suit Scottish needs and circumstances. The Scottish Parliament does not have responsibility for setting National speed limits or drink-driving limits, or firearms all of which are crucial to the safety and health of communities. Nor does it control the social security system or the taxation levers which are crucial to the management of the housing market and to the provision of financial support with the costs of childcare.
The Scottish Government believes that independence is the best way forward for Scotland, but we recognise that a range of views on Scotland's future and the type of government that will best equip Scotland for the future exist. This paper explores the implications of various options ranging from the status quo, through increased devolution and full independence. As part of the National Conversation we welcome and encourage discussions on the issues raised.
Nicola Sturgeon MSP
Deputy First Minister
Fiona Hyslop MSP
Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning
Kenny MacAskill MSP
Cabinet Secretary for Justice
John Swinney MSP
Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Sustainable Growth
Michael Russell MSP
Minister for Culture, External Affairs and the Constitution