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Scotland Bill sells Scotland short

Key powers missing as UK veto remains - Swinney.

The Scotland Bill falls well short of fully implementing the Smith Commission’s recommendations, Deputy First Minister John Swinney has said.

The Bill fails to deliver the Smith proposals in a number of areas identified by the Scottish Government in January, and by a cross party committee of the Scottish Parliament this month, including:

  • continued vetoes over changes to Universal Credit;
  • continued restrictions on who the Scottish Government would be able to pay carers benefits to;
  • failure to devolve the full range of employment support services currently delivered by the Department of Work and Pensions;
  • no explicit power to create new benefits in devolved areas;
  • missing or restricted powers in areas of consumer protection, energy, and the Crown Estate.

The Bill contains eight separate vetoes where the Scottish Government must seek the agreement of the Secretary of State before exercising devolved powers.

Mr Swinney said yesterday:

“Less than a fortnight ago, the Prime Minister came to Edinburgh and pledged to the people of Scotland to deliver the Smith Agreement in full. Today, it’s plain to see that promise has been broken.

"Delivering the Smith Commission’s recommendations was the minimum the UK Government had to deliver.

“There is no mention in Smith of the UK Government having the ability to veto Scottish Government decisions – yet there are eight vetoes in this legislation, including on Universal Credit.

“In key areas, particularly the restrictions the Bill places on employment support and carers benefits, the lack of an explicit power to create new benefits in devolved areas, and the devolution of the Crown Estate this bill falls far short of what the people of Scotland have been promised.

“The Scottish Government made extensive and constructive suggestions to improve the draft legislation, while all parties in the Scottish Parliament backed the Devolution Committee’s findings that the draft clauses did not translate political agreement into legislation.

“The Bill’s significant shortfalls will have a detrimental impact on the ability of future Scottish Governments to exercise powers, take distinct policy decisions or deliver reform.

“The UK Government has published a Scotland Bill which sells Scotland short and doesn’t deliver either the spirit or intent of the Smith Agreement. Its shortcomings must be rectified if it is to be seen as a credible reflection of the Smith Agreement and the UK Government’s commitment to Scotland.”


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