UK Government’s Scotland Bill

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Members of the Scottish Parliament have been challenged to work together to improve and strengthen the UK Government’s Scotland Bill for the benefit of the people of Scotland.

Speaking ahead of a debate on the Bill in the Scottish Parliament today, External Affairs Minister Fiona Hyslop said that MSPS had a duty to deliver what is in the country’s best interests.

Ms Hyslop said:

“Figures published just last week show that a majority of the people in Scotland still favour increased powers and financial responsibility for the Scottish Parliament.

“Independent and respected business leaders and economists have pointed out that full financial responsibility would be best for Scotland.

“As drafted, the financial powers in the Bill fall far short of such responsibility, and may actually damage public spending and the economy in Scotland, rather than encouraging the economic growth that we need. Had these proposals been in place since the start of devolution, £8 billion would have been lost from the Scottish Government budget since 1999.

“It is absolutely right that the Bill is now being scrutinised by the Scottish Parliament. The Scottish Government is already supporting the Parliament in that crucial task.

“My challenge to the Scotland Bill Committee and all members of the Scottish Parliament is to improve and strengthen this Bill so it can deliver the aspirations of the people of Scotland.

“I have moved quickly to enable Parliament to scrutinise the Bill, introducing a legislative consent memorandum and making a ministerial statement to the Parliament within 24 hours of the Bill’s publication, as well as writing to the Committee offering briefing from Scottish Government officials on the financial provisions in the Bill. We will continue with this positive working relationship and responding to requests from Parliament in a timely and helpful manner.”

The Scottish Social Attitudes Survey 2010 published Thursday December 2 showed that 62 per cent of Scots favour significantly more powers for the Scottish Parliament. On tax (57 per cent) and welfare benefits (62 per cent) a majority want the Scottish Parliament to make these decisions for Scotland.

Ms Hyslop wrote to Robert Brown MSP, then interim Convener of the Scotland Bill Committee, on December 2 offering opportunity for briefing from Scottish Government.