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10/10/14 15:00

Powers for a purpose

Powers for a purpose: Powers for a purpose

Scottish Government publishes proposals to the Smith Commission.

Proposals from the Scottish Government for substantial more powers for the Scottish Parliament have been published today by Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

The proposals – which focus on equipping the Scottish Parliament to create more jobs, tackle inequality and protect public services – have also been sent to the Commission led by Lord Smith of Kelvin.

The Scottish Government’s key proposals include:

• Full fiscal responsibility for the Scottish Parliament: all tax revenues should be retained in Scotland. The Scottish Parliament should have policy responsibility for all taxes unless there is a specific reason for a continued reservation.

• In particular, the Scottish Parliament should have full autonomy for income tax, national insurance, corporation tax, capital gains tax, fuel duty, air passenger duty and inheritance tax.

• Responsibility for all domestic expenditure – including welfare – with payments made to the UK government for reserved services;

• A sustainable framework for public finances including the necessary borrowing powers, and an agreement with the UK Government on the overall approach to public finances, including a commitment to continue the Barnett formula during any transitional period and if the Scottish Parliament’s financial powers fall short of full fiscal responsibility.

• Responsibility for key economic levers: such as employment policy (including the minimum wage) employability programmes; transport policy not currently devolved (including rail), competition, energy and broadcasting policy; and the Crown Estate.

Ms Sturgeon said:

“I firmly believe that Scotland should be an independent country. However, I accept the result of the referendum and acknowledge that independence will not be the result of the Smith Commission process.

“The Scottish Government intends to play a full and constructive part in the process to deliver substantial new powers for the Scottish Parliament.

“This will include working to ensure that the outcome meets the high expectations of the people of Scotland as expressed in the referendum, given the various promises of ‘devo max’, 'near federalism' and ‘home rule’ which were made.

“Our key focus will be on delivering ‘powers for a purpose’ – that means putting forward proposals that will deliver real change for the people of Scotland and better equip the Scottish Parliament to create jobs, protect public services and tackle inequality.

“Our proposals are aimed at boosting our economy, and I firmly believe that these powers – including full fiscal responsibility and control of key economic levers – will achieve this.

“It is also vital that the Scottish Parliament has the powers it needs to tackle inequality and build a fairer society. That’s why we propose control over welfare and employability policy, and the minimum wage, to ensure that we have the ability to protect our most vulnerable and help people out of poverty."

The Scottish Government also proposes:

• The Scottish Parliament should take responsibility for all welfare policy and administration. As a priority this should involve all working age benefits. In the meantime, roll out of Universal Credit in Scotland should be halted to ensure that the practical ability to devolve individual benefits is not compromised.

• The sovereign right of the people of Scotland to determine their form of government should be enshrined in law.

• The Scottish Parliament should become responsible for its own elections, rules and procedures and the Sewel Convention should be given statutory force.

• Scotland should have the opportunity to establish its own constitutional framework covering human rights, equalities and the place of local government.

• The Scottish Parliament should have the ability to directly represent its interests on devolved matters in the EU.

Notes to editors

The Scottish Government has taken a principles-led approach to developing its proposals. It starts from the principle, enshrined in the Scotland Act 1998, that matters should be devolved unless there is a good reason for them to be reserved.

This includes all tax powers. The Scottish Government proposes three tests for proposals for further powers for the Scottish Parliament. In addition to passing the good governance tests of coherence, effectiveness and transparency, they must:

Respect the sovereignty of the people of Scotland and enhance financial and democratic accountability to them

Transform the ability of the Scottish Parliament and Government to create a more prosperous country, better tackle inequality and speak with a stronger voice in the EU on matters of devolved competence.

Be fair and equitable in the allocation of resources, risks and rewards.

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