State papers on Scotland: Introduction and Index

"The glaring weakness in the structure of the draft is the treatment of England. No doubt this simply reflects the lack of Ministerial consideration of this small and outlying region". Treasury official’s comment on the White Paper on Devolution. 6 October 1975, in National Archives T319/2930

I mentioned in an earlier post that recent releases from the national archives shed a revealing light on the debate about Scottish devolution and independence in the 1970s. I have now had an opportunity to look at some of the papers from 1975 and 1976 myself.

They leave no doubt that Treasury officials regarded the case for Scottish independence as being much stronger than the Government was prepared to admit publicly. This judgement was largely based on North Sea Oil, so a different conclusion might be reached today.

Nevertheless, the material is relevant to contemporary debates about the UK, if only because it illustrates how far a British Government’s perceptions can differ from its own unionist rhetoric.

For this reason, I have decided to post the text of some of the relevant material here. Below is an index with some of the more interesting quotes from each paper.

National Archives T319/2929
Scottish devolution and North Sea oil including economics of Scottish independence
1974 Jan 01 – 1975 Dec 31

"the orders of magnitude are sufficient to show that Scotland would have more cash on independence than under continued union."
Devolution: Economic advantages to Scotland of the Union

"If there is a moral from all this, it is that progress toward
devolution should be delayed for as long as possible consistently with
honouring the Government’s commitment to move down the devolution road
and containing the SNP lobby in Parliament."

Scotland: Implications for External Financing.







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