Analysis shows government reneging on Scotland Bill

The SNP are accusing Westminster of breaking its promises


The government’s commitment to implementing, in full, the recommendations of the Smith Commission within the Scotland Bill has been questioned by an independent analysis of the legislation.

The Herald has today reported research by the House of Commons Library, which finds that key sections of the Smith Commission report have been left out of the Bill.

These include one on so-called additionally, the principle that any new benefits or discretionary payments introduced by the Scottish Parliament “must provide additional income for a recipient and not result in an automatic offsetting reduction in their entitlement to other benefits or post-tax earnings if in employment.”

According to the Library the Bill also omits the Smith Commission’s proposals for a new ‘no detriment’ principle.

Under this, as a result of the decision to devolve further power, “the Scottish and UK governments’ budgets should be no larger or smaller simply as a result of the initial transfer of tax and/or spending powers, before considering how these are used.”

Commenting on the analysis, SNP deputy leader Stewart Hosie MP said:

“It is now increasingly clear that the Scotland Bill does not deliver the Smith Agreement in full. The analysis of the Bill by the House of Commons Library should act as a wake up call to the UK government.”

Warning that the Conservative Party is looking set to renege on commitments previously made to Scotland, Hosie continued:

“The Conservative Party signed up to the Smith Commission deal and they must not now renege on their commitments.

“The Scottish government has already highlighted shortcomings in the Bill, as has the cross-party Scottish Parliament Devolution Committee. But the UK government, once again, is not listening.”

The development comes just a day after Ruth Davidson, the Conservative leader at Holyrood, warned that the future of the UK remains in question.

Speaking yesterday at a lecture to the Scotland Office’s London HQ, she called on those who support the Union to ‘do a lot more’ to maintain it, warning that separation could occur ‘through a lack of thought and attention’.

Expanding on her thoughts in an article for the Herald, Davidson outlined a series of steps she believes need to be taken to keep the Union together. This includes, she argues, ‘substantial new powers to Scotland and Wales” and ‘stronger inter-government working arrangements’.

Ed Jacobs is a contributing editor to Left Foot Forward. Follow him on Twitter 

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