What new powers will Scotland Bill hand to Holyrood?

The Scotland Bill arose out of the Smith Commission recommendations.
The Scotland Bill arose out of the Smith Commission recommendations.
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The passing of the new Scotland Bill will mark a major transfer of new powers from Westminster to Holyrood, but how did the legislation come about and what does Scotland stand to gain?

Here are some answers to the key questions surrounding the new laws.

What is the Scotland Bill?

The UK Government has said the Bill will make Holyrood one of the most powerful devolved parliaments in the world by giving it further control over taxation, VAT revenues and welfare.

How did it come about?

Following the No vote in the independence referendum last year, the cross-party Smith Commission was set up to work out how to deliver “The Vow” made to Scots by David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg in the final days of the campaign.

The then main Westminster party leaders pledged to give Holyrood “extensive new powers”, and the Smith Commission was left to come up with the fine print - a list of new powers as agreed by representatives of the major parties in November last year.

The commission’s recommendations were then taken forward by the UK Government in the Scotland Bill.

What are the main powers contained in the Bill?

Holyrood will be given the power to set rates and bands of income tax from April 2017, keep half of all VAT receipts, and be given the ability to top up welfare benefits and create new payments. New welfare powers are said to be worth about £2.5 billion.

What happens next?

At the final stage, MPs will consider around 80 amendments laid by the UK Government aimed at strengthening the legislation.

The SNP says the Bill still falls short of the Smith Agreement. It wants the legislation to devolve tax credits in full, and has also tabled amendments for control over equalities legislation and the power to hold referendums.

If the Bill is passed in the House of Commons, passage through the House of Lords and legislative consent from Holyrood will be required before it becomes law.