The Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced that a review into devolution could actually result in the loss of some of Scotland's existing powers as well as the increase in others.
Mr Brown voiced his support for the Scottish Labour Party leader Wendy Alexander’s Constitutional Commission in an interview with the BBC. However, he stressed that a review would not be a “one-way street” and that powers previously devolved could be returned to Westminster.
Mr Brown specifically sighted areas such as foot and mouth and terrorist threats as ones with which a UK wide policy might deal more effectively.
In what seems to be a significant policy change since last year Mr Brown conceded that it might be beneficial for the parliament to have increased tax raising responsibilities.
The move by the Prime Minister comes as somewhat of a surprise after the Scotland Office Minister, David Cairns, recently dismissed calls for further devolution, asserting that they were only the concern of the “McChattering classes”.
Plans for the commission were originally unveiled by Ms Alexander in her St Andrew’s day speech last year and have since received the backing of the majority of MSPs in the Scottish Parliament.
Mr Brown said: “There is an issue about the financial responsibility of an executive or an administration that has £30 billion to spend but doesn’t have any responsibility for raising that.”
Of Mr Brown's support, Ms Alexander said: “the Prime Minister’s backing is very welcome.” She argued that a “cross-Border, cross-party approach” is the best way to tackle the issue.
However, deputy leader, Nicola sturgeon has warned: “This is about Gordon Brown getting control of the issue.”
She said: “Wendy Alexander’s Scottish Commission has become a Westminster review and already we have talk of powers going back from the Scottish Parliament to Westminster.”
Privately Ms Alexander may see the Prime Minister’s intervention as a mixed blessing. While any support must be welcome after Ms Alexander’s recent scandals over campaign donations, the intervention by the Prime Minster could be seen as Westminster hijacking an initiative which had potentially promised to give the Scottish Labour Party and Ms Alexander’s leadership much needed direction.
Former Labour First Minister, Jack McConnell, has also come out in support of the Commission. In his first interview since stepping down as the leader of the Scottish Labour Party Mr McConnell told BBC Radio Scotland that the believed the time was right to look at the relationship between Scotland and the rest of the UK.
However, Mr McConnell stressed that there was a need to have a "real debate" about how the powers are currently being used.
He said: “I think there are choices being made which will be damaging to Scotland.”
The initiative is part of Ms Alexander’s aim for Scotland to “walk taller within the UK, without walking out.”
This commitment to continued membership of the UK while still reviewing devolution has offered an alternative to the SNPs proposed "National Conversation" on independence.
Lib Dem and Conservative MSPs have joined forces with Ms Alexander and the Labour Party on the issue. Plans for progressing with the idea were discussed at a meeting in January of leading MSPS and MPs of the three parties.
In a statement after the meeting the parties emphasised that the commission is “in accordance with mainstream opinion in Scotland, where the clear majority of people support evolution, value the United Kingdom and reject independence.”
They pointed out that the commission has been supported by a vote in the Scottish parliament, whereas “ ‘the national conversation’ set up by the SNP administration has no such mandate from the Scottish parliament.”
The group is due to meet again soon to discuss the implementation of the commission and it will now be interesting to see what role Westminster will play.