David Mundell: Scotland in win-win situation one hundred days on from election
In an article marking the 100th day since the General Election, Scottish Secretary David Mundell writes that Scotland is in a ‘win-win situation’ as Holyrood becomes one of the most powerful devolved parliaments in the world while we also benefit from remaining part of a strong UK economy:
For the past 100 days our government has acted in the interests of the whole United Kingdom. Every day since the General Election in May we have worked to ensure that every part of Britain benefits from a growing UK economy.
Scotland is enjoying a win-win situation right now. We are winning from the decision we made last year to remain part of a strong UK and keep all the advantages that gives us. We are also winning from the policies this government has delivered in our first hundred days that will provide higher pay and lower taxes for people in Scotland and across the whole of the UK. Scotland’s two governments should be working together at every opportunity to help Scottish workers and Scottish businesses. To protect those who need help most and to provide security in retirement.
This UK Government has made our intentions very clear since May 7th . We will help working people in the UK at every stage of their lives.
The Prime Minister and the Chancellor have set out our stall in the last 100 days. We are moving the UK to a higher wage, lower tax and lower welfare society. The next 100 days will tell us more about whether the Scottish Government shares this ambition.
One of David Cameron’s first ports of call after the General Election was to come to Edinburgh and meet with Nicola Sturgeon. He promised her we would bring forward legislation to make Holyrood one of the most powerful devolved parliaments in the world. The Scotland Bill was indeed one of the first Bills we published in late May and we are now well on our way to implementing the historic cross party Smith Agreement.
We are entering a new era of devolution in Scotland where the Scottish Parliament is more powerful and more accountable than ever before. Holyrood will have control over billions of pounds worth of tax and welfare powers. They now need to set the Scottish Rate of Income Tax. This money will come out of Scottish paycheques next April. How much will it be? When will they tell us?
If the Scottish Government wants to choose a different path from the UK Government then that is what devolution is all about. If the First Minister wants to increase taxes, create new benefits or top-up existing benefits then that is her choice because these are the new powers Holyrood will have. She should, however, use the next 100 days to explain how Holyrood intends to use these new powers.
Higher pay, lower taxes
The UK Government will keep governing for all parts of the UK. Scotland holds on to the opportunity, security and stability of being part of the UK. This UK Government is committed to driving down borrowing and getting rid of our deficit. We will get our public finances in order and the Chancellor has announced steps to make sure that UK workers hold on to more of their pay and businesses across the UK pay less tax. Britain deserves a pay rise and the Government is establishing a new national living wage which will reach £9.00 an hour by 2020.
New figures this week showed that wages are going up and employment is at near record levels. We are on the right track, providing opportunities for those who work hard and protecting the value of a well-earned UK pension for those in retirement.
Place in the world
In his Summer Budget the Chancellor pledged to increase defence spending. As a Scot, I am proud that this UK Government is meeting both the NATO pledge on defence spending and the UN commitment on international aid spending. This is not an either or decision for us. We will protect ourselves at home and we will continue to help the poorest people in the world.
Scotland will benefit from the security our increased defence spending will provide. Scottish workers and Scottish companies will be at the heart of building the latest UK defence technology for our brave UK Armed Forces.
Last year’s referendum was an historic moment for Scotland. The right decision was made on a once-in-a-lifetime day where a higher percentage of people turned out to vote than ever before in the UK.
We are now building a stronger economy for all parts of the UK and a more powerful devolved parliament for Scotland. It is a win-win situation for Scotland and the rest of the UK.
The first hundred days is just the start. This government will continue to govern for all parts of the UK. We will work with the Scottish Government and others to help those who work hard, create opportunities and support those who need the most help.