News story

All-party promise of new powers for Scotland delivered

UK Government publishes draft legislation to give Scottish Parliament more powers.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Scottish Parliament

Draft legislation which will see an unprecedented rise in the powers of the Scottish Parliament was published by the UK Government today.

A Command Paper including the 44 draft clauses sets out the new powers which will come to Holyrood following the historic all-party agreement reached by the Smith Commission last year.

It is the first time all of Scotland’s main political parties have agreed what the next chapter of devolution should look like.

Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael said it was ‘an agreement which was built to last’ and said it ‘struck the right balance of powers for Scotland as part of the UK’.

The clauses form the final part of the promise made to the people of Scotland on additional devolution and were published ahead of the Burns Night deadline.

As a result, Holyrood will become one of the most powerful devolved parliaments in the world. It will be responsible for more than 60% of Scottish spending while retaining the safety and security of being part of the wider UK.

Examples of Holyrood’s new powers will include new income tax bands, areas of welfare, some employment programmes, further borrowing powers and air passenger duty, as well as receiving a proportion of VAT. Other elements of the agreement include stating in law that the Scottish Parliament and Scottish Government are permanent institutions.

The UK and Scottish Governments have also taken steps to produce a Section 30 order which will allow 16 and 17 years olds to vote in the Scottish Parliament elections in 2016.

The draft clauses will be the subject of debate at both the UK and Scottish Parliaments. The cross-party nature of the agreement means whoever forms the next UK Government after the General Election will turn this draft legislation into law – a new Scotland Act.

Prime Minister David Cameron said:

In September the people of Scotland came out in record numbers to decide the future of the United Kingdom.

They voted clearly and decisively to keep our family of nations together. But a ‘no’ vote did not mean ‘no change’.

The 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. And now, here we have it: new powers for Scotland, built to last, securing our united future.

I pay tribute to the leadership of Robert Smith for this historic agreement and with all five of Scotland’s main political parties at the table, it was a devolution first.


Mr Carmichael said:

The UK Government has kept its end of this historic bargain and delivered the next chapter in devolution for Scotland. For the first time, it has backing across the political spectrum with all of Scotland’s main parties committed to the package of new powers for Scotland. That means this is an agreement which is truly built to last.

It also strikes the right balance of powers for Scotland as part of the UK. That is what the majority of people want to see and these new powers will create a stronger Scotland and a stronger UK. The Scottish Parliament will have a range of new powers in addition to the significant ones for which it already has responsibility.

That means choices which can reflect distinctive Scottish needs while keeping the safety and security of a wider UK in key areas such as pensions and defence.

Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander said:

The people of Scotland voted to stay in the UK because we wanted to ensure that we remained part of one of strongest unions the world has ever known. 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, but underpinned by a robust framework that ensures we, the people of Scotland, can continue to contribute to and benefit from the UK’s economic strength.

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.

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Published 22 January 2015