Devolution committee says Smith proposals fall short

Bruce Crawford MSP
Bruce Crawford MSP

Draft legislation that would deliver new powers for the Scottish Parliament falls short of the recommendations made in the cross-party Smith Commission, MSPs have said.

The Scottish Parliament’s Devolution (Further Powers) Committee said the current proposals didn’t match the political agreement made by the SNP, Labour, Conservative, Liberal Democrat and Scottish Green parties.

The committee has produced a written report called New Powers for Scotland: An Interim Report on the Smith Commission and the UK Government’s Proposals.

Committee convener Bruce Crawford said the draft legislation provides “no power for the Scottish Parliament to top up reserved benefits despite that being one of the powers highlighted at the time of publication”.

He added: “In the immediate aftermath of the UK general election, the prime minister indicated that he was committed to delivering on the recommendations of the Smith Commission.

“As a committee we call on the new UK government to consider our report - agreed unanimously - as a matter of urgency and to work with the Scottish Parliament to help ensure that we have legislation that achieves the objectives that all five parties on the committee signed up for.”

Deputy first minister John Swinney said: “I share the Committee’s concern that in a number of key areas, particularly in relation to welfare, the draft clauses do not meet the spirit or substance of Smith. I expect the UK Government to take the unanimous views of the Devolution Committee very seriously and amend the Scotland Bill before it is introduced.”

He added that the Scottish Government will “press the Prime Minister to devolve further job creating and revenue raising powers to the Scottish Parliament”.

The Scottish Green Party said they were also concerned that the UK Government had gone back on its commitment to devolution of the Crown Estate.

A spokesperson for the Scotland Office told BBC News: “The Secretary of State has been clear there will be a full parliamentary discussion of these issues where differing views can be heard.”

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