The recommendations of the `Calman Commission' on Scottish Devolution resulted in the largest
transfer of financial powers from Westminster since the creation of the United Kingdom,
implemented in the Scotland Bill which received Royal Assent in 2012. The independent expert
group chaired by Professor Anton Muscatelli were directly influenced by University of Glasgow
research on the lack of accountability in the UK devolved system, the potential to extend the use of
income taxation as a devolved tax, and the problems in devolving taxes such as VAT, corporation
and natural resource tax.
Research at the University of Aberdeen on the economics of North Sea oil
and gas activity levels
and the potential effects of tax changes on exploration and development
decisions — and thus on
total investment — have informed government and the oil industry of the
virtues of ensuring that the
tax system produces the appropriate balance between investment incentives
and tax revenues.
In particular this work demonstrated the need to accommodate the
differential impact of the tax
system across offshore fields located in different geographic regions of
the UK Continental Shelf
(UKCS) which have varying cost characteristics, and the consequent need
for tax allowances to
avoid investment disincentives and to promote maximum economic recovery.
Though the individual research agendas have distinctive emphases, the
contributions of Aughey, Birrell and Trench have become integral elements
in understanding the development of devolution in the United Kingdom (UK).
The impact of this work, through engagement with Parliamentary
Commissions, Parliamentary and Assembly Committees and policy think tanks,
helps define for politicians, administrators, interest groups as well as
the general public the relationship between English and British identity,
how devolved institutions operate in the context of central government
programmes and the options for policy makers in devising financial
arrangements which respect devolved autonomy, English interests and UK