Wide-ranging new legislation to make the Scottish Parliament one of the most powerful devolved parliaments in the world has been published today by the UK Government on the first day of the new parliamentary session.
The Scotland Bill will deliver on the Smith Commission Agreement signed up to by all of Scotland’s main political parties.
As he introduced the new legislation, Scottish Secretary David Mundell said the UK Government had moved quickly to deliver on its commitment to provide Holyrood with new powers and the onus was now on the Scottish Government to tell the Scottish people what they were planning to do with these powers.
The substantial new powers contained in the Scotland Bill include:
enabling the Scottish Parliament to set the thresholds and rates of income tax in Scotland and keep all the money raised in Scotland
providing the Scottish Parliament with the first 10% VAT revenue raised in Scotland (currently half of those revenues)
devolving Air Passenger Duty and the Aggregates Levy to the Scottish Parliament
giving the Scottish Parliament around £2.5 billion worth of new welfare powers
Employment Minister Priti Patel talks about the new welfare powers:
Employment Minister talks about new devolved welfare powers for Scotland
The UK and Scottish Governments will agree a new fiscal framework to ensure Scotland enjoys the benefits of economic decision-making closer to home within a strong and secure UK system and shared UK currency.
Mr Mundell also said the Government was intending for the Scotland Bill to be approved in time for Scotland’s political parties to set out their plans for the new powers ahead of the May 2016 Scottish Parliament elections.
Mr Mundell said:
The Government has moved quickly on day one of the new Parliament to deliver on our commitment to make Holyrood one of the most powerful devolved parliaments in the world.
Scotland will still hold on to the benefits of being part of the UK that people voted for in the referendum last September. Sharing risks and resources with the rest of the UK is good for everyone in the UK when it comes to vital matters such as pensions, currency, trade and national security.
We made a promise to turn the all-party Smith Commission agreement into law and we are now doing that at the earliest possible opportunity.
The onus is now on the Scottish Government to start telling people in Scotland what they are actually going to do with these new powers. What changes are they going to make to Scottish income tax levels? How much extra money are they going to borrow? What changes are they going to make to welfare payments or programmes to help people find work?
This bill will ensure we have the best of both worlds and a strong Scotland within a strong UK. The Government intend to prioritise this legislation and have it approved by Parliament so that in the run up to the Scottish Parliament election in May 2016 Scottish voters will be entitled to know what each party intends to do with these extensive new powers.