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Scotland Bill 'still fails to deliver'

Published: 2 Nov 2015 14:54

Amendments do not implement Smith and UK Government promises.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney has commented that amendments to the Scotland Bill fall short of implementing the Smith Commission.

Mr Swinney said the UK Government's amendments to the Bill did not deliver in full the devolution promised by Smith.

The Scottish Government continues to have concerns in the following areas:

  • The Bill does not codify the Sewel Convention as it has operated since 1999
  • There remain restrictions on the Scottish Parliament's powers to make 'all matters relating to the arrangements and operations of the Scottish Parliament and Scottish Government'
  • The UK Government can still effectively veto the exercise of devolved powers over Universal Credit and there are constraints in the devolution of social security discretionary payments
  • There is not yet an amendment to give the Scottish Parliament new powers to create benefits in devolved areas
  • There is not full devolution of Crown Estate
  • There are significant restrictions on employment support, particularly the restriction to programmes that last at least 12 months.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney said:

"The sole purpose of the Scotland Bill is to implement the Smith Commission in full. In June, I proposed amendments to do that.

"Today's amendments are a welcome admission that the Bill, as published, did not deliver Smith, despite UK Government claims to the contrary. Unfortunately the set of amendments the UK Government have promised today still fail to deliver Smith, and still fail Scotland.

"In areas such as social security, employment support and the Crown Estate, the Scotland Bill does not fully devolve new powers and restricts the ability of future Scottish Governments to exercise power without interference.

"The Scotland Bill must also be accompanied by a revised funding settlement that is fair and workable. Work between both Governments continues to reach an agreement, which is now likely to be after the UK Spending Review and the draft Scottish Budget.

"Today's amendments need to be closely scrutinised by all parties. Further progress towards implementing Smith in full and agreement on a fair fiscal framework are needed before the Scottish Government can back this Bill."