Demand for urgent rethink of 12 vetoes
DFM calls for all-party support on unambiguous delivery of Smith proposals from Westminster.
It is in the interest of all Scottish parties to support the Scottish Government’s effort to ensure all clauses of the Smith Commission recommendations are delivered, free of ambiguity, and as the Commission intended, Deputy First Minister and Finance Secretary John Swinney said yesterday (Sunday, January 25).
The Command Paper published on Thursday allows for Westminster ‘vetoes’, and the Deputy First Minister was yesterday calling for the statutory requirements for Scottish Ministers to seek permission from the Secretary of State to be removed. This is essential if the new legislation is to deliver on both the letter and the spirit of the Smith Commission proposals.
While aspects of the legislation represented progress, proposals in areas such as welfare, employment support and capital borrowing appear to be a “significant watering down” of what was promised by the Smith Commission.
The Deputy First Minister said:
“We have acknowledged that the draft legislation represents progress, however, too much of what is set out imposes restrictions and, whichever way you read it, the UK’s proposals would hand a veto to UK ministers.
“There are a total of 12 instances across key areas such as welfare, universal credit and fuel poverty, where we will have to consult UK Ministers before acting and in eight of these ‘permission’ from the Secretary of State must be sought: a veto.
“For example, the proposals on welfare do not allow us to vary Universal Credit without the permission of the UK Government. That means – under the current proposals – we will not have the independence to take action to abolish the bedroom tax.
“The Smith Commission recommendations were explicit in the powers to be transferred: that is exactly what the UK Government’s legislation must also be.
“We remain committed to this process and we will continue to work with the UK Government and other stakeholders to ensure that the changes are made ahead of the Bill being taken through Westminster.
Mr Swinney continued:
“It is in the interest so all political parties in Scotland to support the Scottish Government in our call to the UK Government to ensure Smith recommendations are delivered as the Commission intended.
“Scotland should not – and will not – accept anything less, and the people of Scotland deserve all parties in Holyrood to call for the delivery of what was promised to voters.
“The Scottish Government is focused on securing economic growth, tackling inequality and protecting our public services, and the new powers being delivered must help deliver those goals. We will be working closely with stakeholders to ensure these proposals are right for Scotland and that they reflect the views of ordinary people.”
Notes To Editors
List of UK Government clauses that demand consultation or permission from Secretary of State:
Clause 6 – Elections (franchise and registration)
Regulations to make any changes to the digital service (individual electoral registration arrangements)
Clause 20 – Universal Credit: costs of claimants who rent accommodation
Regulations to determine the liability of claimants in respect of accommodation costs
Clause 21 – Universal Credit: persons to who, and time when, paid
Regulations relating to the person to who, or time when, universal credit is paid
Clause 27 – Road: traffic signs etc.
Power to give Ministerial direction about road signs
Clause 28- Road: speed limits
Power to make an order relating to speed limits
Clause 28 – Roads: speed limits
Power to give Ministerial directions on speed limits
Clause 29 – Roads: procedure for regulations and interpretation
Regulations on speed limits for certain types of vehicles or temporary speed limits
Clause 38 – Fuel poverty: support schemes
Regulations to make schemes relating to fuel poverty support
Clause 39 – Energy company obligations (promotion of reductions in carbon emissions: gas suppliers)
Regulations to impose obligations on gas suppliers to reduce carbon emissions
Clause 39 – Energy company obligations (promotion of reductions in home-heating costs: gas suppliers)
Orders to impose obligations on gas suppliers to reduce home heating costs.
Clause 39 – promotion of reductions in carbon emission – electricity suppliers
Orders to impose obligations on electricity suppliers to reduce carbon emission
Clause 39 – promotion of reductions in home heating costs – electricity suppliers
Orders to impose obligations on electricity suppliers to reduce home heating costs
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