Smith Commission: SNP ‘will argue for more powers’

John Swinney: SNP will fight for more powers. Picture: Ian Rutherford
John Swinney: SNP will fight for more powers. Picture: Ian Rutherford
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THE Smith Commission on devolution has not given the Scottish Government all of the powers it wants and it will continue to argue for more, Deputy First Minister John Swinney has confirmed.

The SNP MSP provoked uproar on Holyrood’s opposition benches when he said the Smith Agreement had been greeted with “widespread disappointment” last week, and insisted the UK parties’ pre-referendum vow of substantial devolution “has simply not been delivered”.

In a statement to Parliament, he said: “On behalf of the Scottish Government I welcome the contents of the report but regret that a wider range of powers has not been delivered.

“The report contains a number of recommendations that will enable this Parliament to better serve the people of Scotland.”

He particularly welcomed the devolution of air passenger duty, more extensive power over income tax, a range of benefits and the power to extend the Scottish voting franchise to 16 and 17-year-olds.

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He also called on the UK Government to avoid any actions which would significantly affect or constrain the Scottish Parliament after devolution, in particular the move from disability living allowance to personal independence payments which he asked to be halted in Scotland.

He expressed regret that employment law, health and safety, trade union law, the minimum wage, immigration, variable capital allowances, child support and equality law remain reserved.

He added: “It should therefore be of little surprise that given none of these responsibilities were devolved, there was such widespread disappointment on the publication of the report last week.

“The proposals mean control over 71% of taxes in Scotland remains at Westminster along with 85% of welfare decisions - including the conditions and sanctions that are causing so much distress in our country.

“These proposals cannot be characterised as home rule or as near federalism as is possible in the UK. The vow has simply not been fulfilled.

“Whilst the Commission may not have given us all the tools we want and for which we will continue to argue, we in the Scottish Government stand ready to play our part, and we now look forward to the next steps in Scotland’s journey.”

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