PM hails new powers of Holyrood

Published: Thursday 22nd January 2015 by The News Editor

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Holyrood is to become one of the “most powerful devolved parliaments in the world” David Cameron will claim today as the basis of a new law that will give more powers to Scotland is published.

The Prime Minister is to travel north as the draft clauses that will underpin this legislation are revealed.

It comes less than two months after the Smith Commission, which was set up by the UK Government in the wake of the independence referendum, published its proposals for enhanced devolution.

It recommended MSPs should get new responsibilities over income tax and welfare, although the SNP insists that the proposals do not go far enough.

Mr Cameron will say that these new powers are “guaranteed”, regardless of who wins May’s general election

He will declare: “The Scottish Parliament will have more control of its tax and spending – making it one of the most powerful devolved parliaments in the world.”

Scottish Deputy First Minister John Swinney is demanding that the Smith proposals be delivered in full in the legislation.

Mr Swinney, who was on the Commission along with representatives from Labour, the Conservatives, the Liberal Democrats and the Greens, said: “The proposals which Mr Cameron publishes today must live up to the word and spirit of the Smith Commission. Scotland should not – and will not – accept anything less.

“While the Smith Commission recommendations did not go as far as we wanted, and do not live up to the ‘vow’ made before the independence referendum, we welcome them, and they must now be delivered in full.”

Mr Cameron will promise the Scottish Parliament will be able to “combine the freedom to decide what happens in Scotland’s schools, hospitals, surgeries and police stations and the responsibility of determining how around 60% of public money in Scotland is spent”.

He will add: “For the first time – the majority of the money the Scottish Parliament spends will be raised right here in Scotland.

“This includes a substantial new package of welfare powers – worth £2.5 billion – to tackle long term unemployment, disability and poverty.

“We’ve already moved to allow the Scottish Parliament to extend its franchise so 16 and 17 year olds could vote at the 2016 Holyrood elections and here we are stating in law the permanence of the Scottish Parliament – so there can never be any question: Holyrood is here to stay.”

W ith Scots having voted to stay part of the UK in last September’s independence vote, Mr Cameron will claim that decision “wasn’t just about the future of devolution” adding that people north of the border value “the safety and security of being part of something bigger, our family of nations”.

Mr Cameron will say in the referendum campaign “t he leaders of the other main political parties and I promised extensive new powers for the Scottish Parliament – a vow – with a clear process and timetable”.

He will add: ” We said a command paper would be ready by the end of October – and it was.

“We said we’d get cross-party agreement by St. Andrew’s Day – and we did.

“We said draft legislation would be published by Burns Night – and here we are, three days before the celebrations start, with those clauses before us.”

But Mr Swinney said there is still “a long way to go before these proposals are put into law”.

The Deputy First Minister stated: “What we have today is the start of the process to develop a Westminster Bill which has widespread support for introduction shortly after this year’s general election.

“We will be working closely with stakeholders to ensure these proposals are right for Scotland and that they reflect the views of ordinary people. The Scottish Government is focused on securing economic growth, tackling inequality and protecting our public services, and the new powers being delivered must help deliver those goals.

“We will carefully examine today’s paper, because anything which backtracks, waters down or falls short of what Lord Smith recommended would be unacceptable – and ultimately it is the people of Scotland who will determine if these proposals go far enough.”

Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander said after the referendum campaign “as promised the UK has today delivered unprecedented new powers for Scotland, which make it one of the most powerful devolved administrations in the OECD”.

The Liberal Democrat said: ” The next steps are clear: the Scottish Government and Parliament will soon have these powers, and it needs to ensure that it implements them in a way that works for Scotland, including by looking at further devolution within the country, as recommended by Lord Smith.

“Devolution doesn’t just mean the flow of powers from one Parliament to another. Devolution is about empowering our regions and our communities across Scotland and the UK.”

Former Scottish Labour leader Iain Gray also urged the Scottish Government to transfer more powers to local communities.

Mr Gray, who was a member of the Smith Commission, said: ” This is home rule for Scotland. It’s an exciting time for our nation.”

He went on: ” What Scots now need from politicians isn’t another argument over what powers we have. Instead they need to hear how these massive new powers will be used to make Scotland the fairest nation on earth. Scotland’s home rule journey can’t stop at Holyrood. It must carry on across Scotland’s towns and cities.”

Published: Thursday 22nd January 2015 by The News Editor

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