UK government publishes draft bill on powers to be devolved to Holyrood
It comprises: constitutional matters, fiscal framework, tax, welfare, public bodies, executive agencies and the crown estate, civil protections and advice, transport and energy.
“These draft clauses will be brought forward as a Bill in the UK Parliament following the General Election in May 2015.”
She said aspects of the legislation represented progress but proposals in areas such as welfare, employment support and capital borrowing appeared to be a “significant watering down” of what was promised by the Smith Commission.
Ms Sturgeon highlighted three key areas that must be addressed immediately by the UK Government if the legislation is to meet the spirit and the content of the agreement set out by Lord Smith:
“For example, the proposals on welfare do not allow us to vary Universal Credit without the permission of the UK Government. That means – under the current proposals – we will not have the independence to take action to abolish the bedroom tax.
“The support for unemployed people also falls short of what Lord Smith recommended, with the provisions set out today narrowly focused on existing schemes.
“And the paper confirms that the Scottish Government will still have to work within the framework of austerity being imposed by the UK Government. It also suggests that Scotland’s capital grant could be replaced by borrowing powers and not augmented by them as was clearly the intention of the Smith proposals.
“In these crucial areas the clauses set out today appear to be a significant watering down of what was promised by the Smith Commission and need an urgent rethink by the UK government.”