Policy

Maintaining and strengthening the Scottish devolution settlement

Issue

Scotland has two governments: the UK government is responsible for matters including, defence, foreign affairs, the economy, social security and the constitution; and the Scottish government is responsible for matters including health, education, justice and policing and local government.

Although responsibility is divided in this way, the two governments work together on many issues and cooperate to make sure that the devolution settlement is well managed.

The division of responsibilities is not fixed, and it has changed several times since devolution began in 1999. In 2009, the independent Calman Commission recommended a significant transfer of tax raising powers to make sure the Scottish Parliament has responsibility for raising money, as well as spending it.

The UK government agreed with the Calman Commission’s recommendations, and through the Scotland Act 2012 provided the largest transfer of financial powers from Westminster since the creation of the United Kingdom. We are now working with the Scottish government to implement the Scotland Act.

Actions

We introduced a Bill in 2010 to implement the Calman Commission’s recommendations. The Bill was passed into law in 2012. The Scotland Act 2012 transferred new powers to the Scottish Parliament so that it can raise its own taxes. It also introduced a range of measures to strengthen the devolved administration in Scotland.

Some of these changes have already taken effect. These include the transfer of powers to set the drink-drive limit, ban air weapons and set the national speed limit in Scotland.

The tax-raising powers will need more time before they take effect. It is important to governments, businesses and tax payers that there is a smooth transfer to the new tax system. We are working with the Scottish government and parliament to make the arrangements needed to transfer these new powers. We aim to complete this process by 2016.

In 2013, we will continue to work with the Scottish government to prepare for the introduction of the new Scottish land and landfill taxes and the new Scottish rate of income tax.

In April 2013, we will publish the first annual report on the progress towards implementing the new tax powers.

Background

The Scotland Act 1998

The first democratically elected Scottish Parliament was set up in 1999 following the Scotland Act 1998.

The Commission on Scottish Devolution

In 2008, the Scottish Parliament and UK government established an independent Commission on Scottish Devolution (‘the Calman Commission’) to review the ‘devolution settlement’ - the powers of the Scottish Parliament and its relationship with the UK government.

The commission published its report, ‘Serving Scotland Better: Scotland and the United Kingdom in the 21st Century’, in June 2009. The commission recommended that the Scottish Parliament should be given more control over its own finances, and made recommendations to improve and develop the devolution settlement.

In the coalition programme for government in May 2010, we committed to implementing the commission’s recommendations.

The Scotland Act 2012

In November 2010, we introduced a Bill to implement the commission’s recommendations. At the same time, we published a command paper, Strengthening Scotland’s future, explaining the Bill’s provisions. The Bill was passed into law in 2012.

The Scotland Act 2012 transferred more powers to raise taxes from the UK government to the Scottish Parliament along with other measures to strengthen and develop the devolved institutions.

Concordat Agreements

The United Kingdom government and the Scottish government maintain a list of agreements between the UK and Scottish governments which ensure close and effective working between the two governments.

You can read more detailed information about how the UK and Scottish parliaments make laws relating to Scotland.

Bills and legislation

The Scotland Act 1998 established the Scottish Parliament.

The Scotland Act 2012 devolved more tax-raising and other powers form the UK government to the Scottish Parliament.

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