Law Society: Scotland Bill reflects Smith Commission agreement

Alistair Morris

Following publication of the Scotland Bill today at Westminster, Alistair Morris, president of the Law Society of Scotland, said: “We welcome the introduction of the Scotland Bill into the House of Commons.

“It reflects the Smith Commission agreement and provides for further powers across a range of areas for the Scottish Parliament.

Mr Morris said: “The bill’s proposals for further devolution of powers gives the Scottish Parliament a range of powers in important areas of law and policy, including tax and welfare.

On the further devolution of tax powers, Mr Morris added: “It appears that the Smith Commission recommendations have been incorporated, with thresholds and rates of income tax on earnings in Scotland being devolved, along with Air Passenger Duty, the Aggregates Levy and an assignment of VAT.

“Tax law is a complex and difficult area and we intend to examine this closely to ensure that its proposals will work in practice.”

On the constitutional clauses in the bill, Mr Morris said: “The recognition in these clauses that the Scottish Parliament and the Scottish Government are to become permanent aspects of the UK Constitution is a fulfilment in legal terms of the Smith recommendations. These proposed changes put into law the political intention of the parties who contributed to the Smith Commission process.

“As the regulator of Scottish solicitors, we have a particular interest in seeing the devolution of estate agency as well as some remaining aspects of solicitor regulation, such as immigration advice, financial services advice and insolvency practice.

“This would allow for a more flexible approach which, above all, maintains standards and better protects the consumer of legal services.”

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