Scottish Secretary David Mundell will meet Moray Council later today [Monday 14 March], to discuss the new powers coming to the Scottish Parliament. Today’s visit will mean that Mr Mundell has met all 32 local authorities in Scotland, to push his message that, if properly used, the new powers coming to Holyrood could make a huge difference to the people of Scotland.
Ahead of the meeting in Elgin, Mr Mundell said the Scotland Bill, which is in its final stages in the UK Parliament, would bring in new powers to make the Scottish Parliament one of the most powerful devolved parliaments in the world. The issue now for debate is how those powers – which include a raft of measures on tax, spending and welfare – are used.
Mr Mundell also reiterated his call for more powers to be devolved from Holyrood to local authorities.
Mr Mundell said:
After my meeting with Moray Council today I will have met every one of the 32 local authorities in Scotland since becoming Secretary of State for Scotland. I have been grateful to them for their willingness to engage and their determination and commitment to do the very best for their local areas.
During those many meetings, one message has really shone through - the need for Holyrood to devolve more power to local communities. That would mean the people on the ground being able to make the best decisions for their own communities.
There are huge opportunities ahead with the new powers coming to the Scottish Parliament. The Scotland Bill is reaching its final stages in the UK Parliament, and we have agreed a fiscal framework with the Scottish Government that is fair to Scotland and fair to the rest of the UK. The Holyrood Parliament is set to see a huge increase in its financial accountability to the people of Scotland. The major new powers over tax, welfare and other matters will give added weight and effectiveness to the powers it already has, making it one of the most powerful devolved parliaments in the world.
Used properly, these new powers will make a huge difference to the lives of people in Scotland. The debate is now truly about how the new powers will be used to improve the lives of people right across the county.
But devolution should not stop at the steps of Holyrood. We now need the Scottish Government to distribute more power to Scotland’s cities, burghs and villages. We have seen decision-making powers taken away from this area because they have been centralised to Edinburgh – going against the grain of rest of the UK, where powers are being handed back to local people. I want to see more power in the hands of our local communities, as recommended by the Smith Commission.
Today in Elgin Mr Mundell will meet Moray Council’s Chief Executive Roddy Burns, Council Leader Stewart Cree and Convener Allan Wright.
While he is in Moray Mr Mundell will also visit RAF Lossiemouth and the Strathisla distillery in Keith.
RAF Lossiemouth is home to three front-line Typhoon squadrons. During his visit to the base Mr Mundell will meet RAF and civilian personnel and hear about the base’s role in military operations and protecting UK airspace. The Prime Minister announced in the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review that RAF Lossiemouth would play a key role in bolstering Britain’s national security, with nine new maritime patrol aircraft to be based there. These aircraft will protect UK’s nuclear deterrent, hunt down hostile submarines and enhance maritime search and rescue. The new aircraft will mean an additional 400 jobs at the Lossiemouth base.
In his visit to the Strathisla distillery, Mr Mundell will see the traditional process of crafting Royal Salute Whisky. Mr Mundell was introduced to the brand by the wife of the President of the People’s Republic of China, Peng Liyuan. It is her favourite whisky, and Mr Mundell presented her with a bottle when she visited Chequers in October last year. Established in 1953 to mark the coronation of Elizabeth II, the luxury export brand is produced by Chivas Brothers, part of the Pernod Ricard group.