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New powers to 'make a difference'

Published: 23 May 2016 00:01

Scottish Parliament assumes new powers from today.

New powers for the Scottish Parliament will be used to create a fairer country, Constitution Secretary Derek Mackay has pledged.

From today, the Scottish Parliament and Scottish Government receive new powers through the Scotland Act 2016.

Many of these powers allow for legislation to be taken forward in areas including equal opportunities, consumer advocacy and advice, competition and transport.

The social security powers which are being devolved will be transferred at a later date, while most of tax powers which are being transferred will also take practical effect at a later date.

Mr Mackay said:

"The Scotland Act sees the most substantial change to the powers of the Parliament since devolution.

"From today, the Scottish Parliament and Scottish Government have new powers over many areas, notably in equality, consumer advocacy and transport. Reflecting our priorities, we are already working to use these powers as quickly as possible, to tackle inequality and create a fairer, more prosperous country.

"That includes our plans to promote equality by legislating for gender balance on the boards of public bodies.

"Our consumer and competition strategy will take account of Scotland's geographic, social and economic circumstances. We will use the newly devolved consumer powers to develop a robust system which protects and empowers consumers and supports businesses which are innovative, efficient and fair. And we will also remove employment tribunals fees that act as a barrier to justice.

"On transport, we'll allow public sector operators to bid for future rail franchises and integrate the British Transport Police into Police Scotland, while retaining the specialisms that are highly valued by the rail industry and passengers. And we will look to attract more international flights to Scotland, boosting investment and jobs, by reforming Air Passenger Duty, which under the UK Government is one of the highest taxes of its kind in the world.

"While the Scotland Act does not go as far as we would wish, we will always use all the powers available to us in the best interests of Scotland."

Notes to editors

The following sections of the Scotland Act 2016 will be commenced on Monday May 23:

  • Section 2 – The Sewel Convention;
  • Section 16 – Assignment of VAT; not expected to have practical effect until financial year 2019/20, following consideration and agreement by the Joint Exchequer Committee on the assignment methodology and operating arrangements
  • Section 17 – Tax on carriage of passengers by air;­­ a new devolved tax will not take effect before April 2018.
  • Section 18 – Tax on commercial exploitation of aggregate; an appropriate date for a new devolved tax to take effect will be determined by the Joint Exchequer Committee.
  • Section 19 – Devolved taxes: further provision;
  • Section 37 – Equal opportunities;
  • Section 38 – Public sector duty regarding socio-economic inequalities;.
  • Section 39 – Tribunals;
  • Sections 40 to 44 – Roads;
  • Sections 45 and 46 – Railway policing;
  • Sections 50 and 51 – Consumer advocacy and advice;
  • Section 52 – Gaming machines on licensed betting premises;
  • Section 53 – Abortion;
  • Section 54 – Gaelic Media Service;.
  • Section 55 – Commissioners of Northern Lighthouses;
  • Section 56 – Maritime and Coastguard Agency;
  • Section 57 – Rail: franchising of passenger services;
  • Section 61 – Renewable electricity incentive schemes: consultation;
  • Section 63 – References to Competition and Markets Authority;
  • Section 64 – Gas and Electricity Markets Authority;
  • Section 66 – Bodies that may be required to attend before the Parliament.