Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael has told the House of Commons that ‘work starts today’ on turning the historic cross party agreement on devolution into more powers for the Scottish Parliament.
Mr Carmichael told MPs that he was establishing a cross-government team of civil servants from 4 different UK departments to turn the Smith proposals into draft legislation. He also announced that external experts from a range of different sectors in Scotland are being invited on to a stakeholder group to help guide the work on the legislation.
The Scottish Secretary said that people in Scotland had voted decisively in the referendum to remain part of the UK and retain the benefits of being part of the UK. He said the new settlement would ensure that Scotland held on to the many advantages of the UK such as a UK Pound, UK pensions, UK armed forces and a strong UK voice in the world.
The Government backs the Heads of Agreement and its recommendations and we will get on with producing draft legislation. The draft clauses will be produced by Burns Night, 25 January, meeting the next phase in our commitment to people in Scotland. That work begins today.
A team has been set up to bring together lead officials in the Scotland Office, HM Treasury, the Department for Work and Pensions and the Cabinet Office. This team will work closely with all lead policy departments within the UK Government. And the team will remain in place ready to deliver a Bill in the UK Parliament following the UK General Election.
To support the preparation of the draft legislation I have invited key Scottish stakeholders representing a wide range of different sectors to form a Stakeholder Group.
I will provide further details of the membership and terms of reference of the group in due course, but it is my intention that it will support the Government’s work translating the Heads of Agreement into the draft legislation that we will publish by the 25 January.
The referendum on independence held on 18 September 2014 saw Scotland vote decisively to remain within our UK family of nations of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, backed by the strength, security and stability of the UK. The turnout across Scotland was nearly 85%. And over two million people made a positive choice for Scotland to remain part of the UK.
The Smith Commission has today produced a comprehensive Heads of Agreement ahead of the St. Andrew’s Day deadline contained in the timetable set out.
This is a significant achievement, and is an historic moment for Scotland. The Heads of Agreement provide for a durable but responsive constitutional settlement for Scotland within the United Kingdom.
They give greater financial responsibility to the Scottish Parliament with an updated fiscal framework for Scotland, consistent with the overall UK fiscal framework.
For the first time, over 50% of the money spent by the Scottish Parliament will be funded by the Scottish Parliament. This is an important step which builds on the measures brought forward by this Government in the Scotland Act 2012 and further increases the financial accountability of the Scottish Parliament to the people of Scotland.
Together - these recommendations give greater responsibility for more decisions affecting Scotland to be made in the Scottish Parliament and paid for by revenue raised by the Scottish Parliament.
The conclusions reached by the parties ensure a set of proposals that do not cause detriment to the UK as a whole or any of its constituent parts. The Government is committed to ensuring that Scotland and the whole of the United Kingdom continue to prosper from our single domestic market, our social union and the strength that comes from the pooling and sharing of risks.
People in Scotland voted on 18th September for the jobs and opportunities that are created by being part of a larger United Kingdom with one currency, no borders and more money to spend on public services in Scotland.
People in Scotland want to keep the advantages of a UK Pound, UK pensions, UK armed forces and a strong UK voice in the world. The package that has been announced today allows that to happen.