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Cabinet Secretary for Parliamentary Business and Government strategy Bruce Crawford has commented on yesterday's Queen’s speech.
Mr Crawford said:
“As the Queen’s Speech sets out, the path of the UK Government is diverging ever further from that of Scotland. Our focus is rightly on boosting growth and employment, and this was a missed opportunity by the UK Government to signal a new approach by increasing infrastructure spending, and supporting the Scottish Government’s ‘shovel-ready’ capital projects across Scotland.
“There are some measures which we welcome – including the establishment of the Green Investment Bank in Edinburgh.
“And for the four bills which require Scottish Parliament approval, the Scottish Government will table Legislative Consent Motions for the parliament to decide upon. It will then be for the Scottish Parliament to determine matters on the basis of its democratic mandate.
“The Public Service Pensions Bill underlines our concerns about the UK Government’s misguided approach. Public sector pensions must be affordable, sustainable and fair and, in partnership with trade unions and employer representatives, we are already discussing the long-term reform of public sector pensions in Scotland.
“However, not content with threatening budget cuts if we choose to do things differently in Scotland, the UK Government appears to be applying legislative constraints on any flexibility that could be exercised by the Scottish Government. This completely undermines our ability, and that of local government, to put in place a pensions agreement that meets the needs of public sector employees in Scotland.
“Being constantly kept in the dark about UK Government plans, which affect around half a million public sector employees in Scotland, damages our ability to ensure a fair and equitable agreement, taking into account all views and reflecting Scottish circumstances.
“On Electricity Market Reform, Scotland has vast energy resources and we want to see proposals that capitalise on the industry’s potential that is bringing jobs and investment to communities across Scotland. We will work with UK Government to deliver legislation that promotes our opportunities in renewables and Carbon Capture and Storage, but we totally disagree with hidden subsidies for nuclear power and that is a message we will continue to make to the UK Government.
“In terms of Scotland’s future, we are still no further forward in knowing what additional powers for the Scottish Parliament, beyond the Scotland Act, the Prime Minister claims he is committed to. The Scottish Government are making the case for independence clear, but there is still no more clarity over what the alternative is. In any event, people will have the opportunity to vote for the job-creating and other powers that Scotland needs in the autumn 2014 independence referendum.”
Details of The Queen’s Speech are available from the UK Government, accessible via the following link (http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/resource-library/queens-speech-2012-background-briefing-notes)
The UK bills which the Scottish Government currently expects to give rise to Legislative Consent Motions in the Scottish Parliament are:
Crime & Courts Bill – to create the National Crime Agency; make provision for the structure, administration, and powers of courts and tribunals and judicial appointments; establish UK Border Agency Criminal Investigation Powers; and, permit Social Security and Tax Credit Data-Sharing.
Electoral Registration & Administration Bill – to include provisions to bring forward Electoral Administration and Individual Electoral Registration (IER).
Energy Bill – to address Reform of the Electricity Market following the DECC White Paper published last year. The intention is to ensure a secure electricity supply, investment in low carbon technologies and to minimise costs.
Enterprise & Regulatory Reform Bill – the Bill will address Regulatory reforms and Repeals; Dispute Resolution; Reform of competition laws; Executive pay; and, establishment of the Green Investment Bank.
It is possible that further opportunities to legislate for Scotland by means of Legislative Consent Motion may occur in connection with other UK bills, including Private Member’s bills. Any additional proposals of this kind, together with any relevant amendments to the Government bills listed above, will be drawn to the attention of the Parliament as they arise, in line with the requirements of Standing Orders.