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General Regulation

How will services such as energy, post, telecommunications, rail and water be regulated in an independent Scotland?

We propose that, in an independent Scotland, these industries will be regulated by a combined economic regulator.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

What will be the benefit of a combined economic regulator?

A single economic regulator will reduce the number of regulatory bodies business has to deal with in Scotland, while increasing the consistency of decision-making. It will also be a more powerful regulator, with a stronger voice to act on behalf of consumers and ensure that Scottish markets work efficiently.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Does Scotland have the necessary experience to deliver economic regulation?

Yes. Scotland already has responsibility for economic regulation in the water and sewerage sector, and we have an extremely good track record. For example:

  • the average household bill for water services in Scotland for 2013/14 is £54 cheaper than in England or Wales and standards of service are amongst the highest in the UK.

  • the Scottish Parliament, in what was a world first, introduced retail competition for non-domestic customers. Two thirds of business customers now have lower bills as a result.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Will the combined economic regulator have a role to play in protecting consumers?

Yes. We plan to task the Scottish regulator with ensuring open and competitive markets to protect the interests of Scottish consumers while ensuring a fair return on investment for business.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Will independence impose burdens on businesses by making them deal with another regulator in an independent country?

No. There are 27 independent EU countries with their own regulators, and multinational companies operate in several of them already. Industry also frequently deals with a wide range of regulatory bodies even in the same country, such as environmental, planning, and health and safety regulators.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

What will independence mean for the regulation of professionals – such as architects and auditors?

The professional regulation systems in place immediately before independence will remain in place on independence. After that, decisions will be made by the government of an independent Scotland.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

What will independence mean for the production of official and national statistics?

Scotland is already part of a UK-wide statistical service that meets professional requirements nationally and for the EU, so we can build on the expertise already in the Scottish statistical service. Following a vote for independence, Scotland will require a designated National Statistics Institute. We propose that the National Records of Scotland should take on that role.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Will freedom of information and data protection be regulated in an independent Scotland?

Yes. The functions of the Scottish Information Commissioner will be extended into the areas currently dealt with by the UK Information Commissioner, including data protection, from independence.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Financial Regulation

How will financial services be regulated in an independent Scotland?

We propose that the key elements of prudential regulation will be discharged on a consistent basis across the Sterling Area.

Major financial institutions operating in the Sterling Area will therefore be subject to the same prudential supervision and oversight in both Scotland and the UK.

As the Fiscal Commission Working Group made clear, such an approach is in the clear economic and financial interests of Scotland and the UK. Macro-prudential policy and micro-prudential regulation of the most significant Sterling Area institutions will be discharged, by the Bank of England, as the shared central bank, or by the regulatory arm of the Scottish Monetary Institute in partnership with the UK body.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Who would be responsible for financial stability?

As part of the proposed Sterling Area framework, the Bank of England will retain its remit for financial stability.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Who will regulate financial conduct?

With independence, we will ensure that all firms incorporated and authorised in Scotland comply with the highest standards expected of the financial industry. The key elements of financial conduct will be co-ordinated with the relevant UK bodies.

Independence will enable Scottish governments to act on issues that are of particular concern for Scottish consumers, such as pay day lending and nuisance calls. For example, we will introduce a cap on short-term interest rates, similar to those in place in many countries in Europe, Japan, Canada and some US states. We will also regulate the advertising of pay day lenders and place restrictions on ‘rolling over’ of loans which saddle those unable to pay off debt with an even bigger loan.

As is the case in all other EU countries, Scotland will be able to design its own institutional framework for financial regulation and have its own regulator. A Scottish regulator will work with regulator for the rest of the UK to set equivalent standards, for instance where there are significant cross-border markets.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Health and Safety Regulation

Would the people of Scotland still be protected by strong health and safety measures?

Yes. The legal system that is in place immediately before independence will continue on independence. Thereafter, decisions on health and safety law, including corporate homicide, will be made by the parliament and government of an independent Scotland.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Energy Regulation

How will the energy market in an independent Scotland be regulated?

As an independent member of the European Union, Scotland will be required to create a national regulatory authority for energy. The Scottish Government’s proposal of a new combined economic regulator will bring together the economic regulatory functions of communications, energy, transport and water. The energy arm of the Scottish Regulator could, in principle, be based at the Scottish offices of Ofgem. This Scottish regulator will work in partnership with the energy regulator in England and Wales in a model of shared regulation of the integrated GB-wide market.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Will independence allow Scotland to have greater influence on key regulatory matters, such as energy prices?

Yes. Powers over key regulatory decisions, currently exercised by Westminster, will transfer to the Scottish Parliament as a result of independence. After that, decisions on the energy market will be made by the Parliament and Government of an independent Scotland.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Will an independent Scotland be able to take steps to ensure that consumers’ interests are taken into account when energy policy is set?

Yes. The powers of independence will allow energy policy to be designed to protect the interests of consumers and make sure people are treated transparently and fairly. Appropriate information on energy tariffs will help customers decide which company to go with, and help make prices competitive.

The Scottish Government plans that, in an independent Scotland, funding for ‘green investment’ would transfer from energy bills to central government budgets. By passing on these cost reductions to their consumers, energy companies would be able to reduce bills by around five per cent or approximately £70 every year.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Health Industry Regulation

How will an independent Scotland access services from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency?

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is an Executive Agency established by the Department of Health in England. The MHRA takes forward reserved issues around the licensing, safety and efficacy of medicines and functions on a UK-wide basis. The Scottish Government plans to continue using the services of MHRA in an independent Scotland, unless and until the Scottish Parliament decided to make changes in this area.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Will current legislation to regulate doctors, nurses and other health professionals continue to be in force in an independent Scotland?

Laws which are in force in Scotland prior to independence will continue in force after independence until such times as that legislation is amended or repealed by the Parliament of an independent Scotland.

The regulation of all health professionals will become the responsibility of the Scottish Parliament on independence. The Scottish Government will seek to work in cooperation with Westminster, and the devolved administrations, to ensure that health professional regulation is maintained in the best interests of patient safety and the consistent treatment of healthcare professionals.

The Scottish Government will seek to maintain the current professional current healthcare regulatory bodies, which are funded by fees from registrants, which will continue to operate in Scotland after independence.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Telecommunications Regulation

Will there be a Scottish telecommunications regulator in an independent Scotland?

Regulation of broadcasting is currently carried out by Ofcom, which also regulates telecommunications and postal services. We propose that the economic regulatory functions of Ofcom are included in a combined economic regulator. Capacity will be developed within the new regulator to advise on the regulation of broadcasting content. We also propose that an independent Scotland co-operates with the rest of the UK on managing the spectrum, in the same way that Ofcom and Ireland’s ComReg co-operate at present.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

What approach will be taken to spectrum management and licensing and the universal service obligation in an independent Scotland?

Powers over these issues will transfer to the Scottish Parliament as a result of independence. Thereafter decisions on spectrum management and licensing and the universal service obligation will be made by the Parliament and Government of an independent Scotland.

It is the intention of the current Scottish Government that the universal service obligation will operate at least at the same level as the rest of the UK in an independent Scotland. Independence also offers the opportunity for Scotland to set higher coverage obligations on spectrum licences.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Rail Regulation

How will Network Rail be regulated in an independent Scotland?

We propose that, on independence, the Office of Rail Regulation will continue to operate in Scotland while the options for regulation are examined further, although the proposed combined economic regulator will cover aspects of its functions. This will ensure there is no disruption to the operations and safety of rail services.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Aviation Regulation

Will an independent Scotland still be covered by the Civil Aviation Authority?

Powers over civil aviation will transfer to the Scottish Government and Parliament as a result of independence. After that, decisions on this will be made by the Parliament and Government of an independent Scotland.

We propose to retain the current regulatory framework governing aviation on independence through a memorandum of understanding with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). The CAA will report to the Scottish Government on regulatory matters affecting aviation in Scotland.

Building on this initial arrangement an independent Scotland can develop its own regulatory body in due course.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

How will a Scottish aviation regulator be funded?

The current Scottish Government has no plans to change the current model for the funding of aviation regulation, where the industry covers the cost of regulation.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Regulation of Outer Space Activity in an Independent Scotland

Will Scotland continue to participate in international space agencies?

Yes. Scotland will continue to work with the UK Space Agency and the European Space Agency.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Will Scottish businesses be able to compete for contracts to the UK Space Agency?

Yes. An independent Scotland will continue to be part of the European Union. In line with EU Public Procurement Law companies in Scotland will be able to compete for contracts to the UK Space Agency and the European Space Agency.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Videogame Regulation

Will an independent Scotland use the UK’s videogame age rating system or create its own one?

Powers over videogame age rating system and other age rating systems will transfer to the Scottish Parliament as a result of independence. The rating system in place immediately before independence will be inherited on independence. After that, decisions on these systems will be made by the Parliament and Government of an independent Scotland.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.