Labour split as Calman consensus crumbles

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by Rona Mackay

SNP attempts to improve the Scotland Bill were voted down last night as the consensus between the three Unionist parties crumbled over timetabling and as Labour MPs in Westminster humiliated their MSP colleagues over powers for the Scottish Parliament.

The SNP proposed a series of amendments with the aim of providing the financial levers and responsibility Scotland needs to grow the economy and address flaws in the Bill.  These included an amendment on the aggregates levy, supported by Labour MSPs in Holyrood.  However, in a vote on the issue in Westminster, Labour MPs abstained.

Separately, a row has broken out between Labour and their Lib Dem and Tory Calman partners over the timetabling of the Bill after it emerged that amendments to overhaul the Scottish legal system will solely be scrutinised by the House of Lords and not MPs.

SNP Treasury spokesperson Stewart Hosie MP said: “It is deeply disappointing that Labour MPs have again joined with the Tories and Lib Dems to deny new powers for the Scottish Parliament and hold back action on the economy and jobs.

“Last week they voted against devolving lifesaving powers over airguns and this week they are voting against powers to boost the economy.  The position of Labour MPs is without credit or credibility and will come as a humiliation to Iain Gray and Labour in the Scottish Parliament.

“By failing to support devolution over aggregates tax, as supported by the Scottish Parliament Committee, Labour in Westminster have dug a hole for Iain Gray and his colleagues in Holyrood.  It’s clear that the Calman consensus is crumbling.

“Without the improvements put forward by the SNP, the Scotland Bill will be a wasted opportunity as it does not give Scotland financial responsibility to grow the economy and, in its current form, poses a significant risk to the funding of public services.

“Extremely limited borrowing powers mean the Scottish Government cannot effectively invest in long term building projects to stimulate the Scottish economy.  The half-baked tax trap put forward by Calman will see Scotland lose billions in coming years.”