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Scotland Bill 'must be rectified'

Published: 16 Sep 2015 14:45

Deputy First Minister calls for meaningful discussions with Westminster.

The Scotland Bill must be improved to give Scotland flexibility and fairness over new powers, Deputy First Minister John Swinney told Parliament today.

Mr Swinney called for meaningful discussions with Westminster and made clear that progress was needed on the Scotland Bill, including agreement on a fair fiscal framework, in order for the Scottish Government to recommend its approval.

John Swinney said:

"A year ago today, people across Scotland were promised substantial new powers. Even Gordon Brown, the arch architect of 'the Vow', now says the UK Government is falling short on delivering its promises.

"The Scotland Bill is a series of missed opportunities. It could have given the Scottish Parliament powers over employment law and trade unions, or all of social security - protecting people in Scotland from the policies of the UK Government.

"As it stands, the Bill constrains our ability to use new its limited new powers and retains vetoes for UK Ministers if they don't like our plans. That's not devolution, and flies in the face of the spirit and letter of the Smith Commission.

"It must be rectified. Sadly, the UK Government's response has been to reject every amendment put forward by a range of Westminster parties in the House of Commons.

"The Secretary of State for Scotland now says he will make substantive amendments to the Scotland Bill, and we'll need to see those changes. It is in the interests of everyone that the UK and Scottish Governments can recommend the amendments at Report Stage to our respective Parliaments – which will both need to agree to the Bill.

"Alongside the Scotland Bill, we also need a well-designed, agreed fiscal framework that gives the Scottish Government flexibility to use the powers distinctly and effectively to boost the economy and create a fair and prosperous country.

"Without a framework that is fair to Scotland, the Scottish Government will not recommend that Parliament approves the Scotland Bill. I would have no hesitation to refuse to recommend a Bill that did not properly allow us to address our own priorities.

"Parliament must today unite to urge the UK Government to amend the Bill to implement the Smith Commission recommendations, supported by all parties in Holyrood."