Wendy Alexander: Detailed scrutiny of the Scotland Bill is essential

THE Scotland Bill, implementing the Calman Commission recommendations, is before the Scottish Parliament. It will be the biggest transfer of financial power from London since the creation of the United Kingdom.

These are big changes to how Scotland is governed, and how Scottish politicians are accountable to voters. The Scottish Parliament supports the general principles of the bill, but the individual clauses deal with many important issues. So it's vital the committee set up to scrutinise the proposed legislation is thorough and effective.

What the committee has to do is look at the evidence and see what's best for devolved Scotland. We have already got off to an excellent start, questioning UK and Scottish Government ministers on the big picture. Each of them will be providing us with more analysis, especially on the critical tax and finance provisions.

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We have just eight more weeks for this scrutiny. We will use them to look hard at those financial issues – especially those giving Scottish ministers greater power over income tax and other taxes, like Stamp Duty.

We will hear from experts and Scottish businesses, as well as people from many walks of Scottish life. We will ask about the likely impact of the changes: will they indeed make politicians more accountable? What will the new powers mean for public services? Will it be easy in practice for employers to collect a Scottish Income Tax? Practicality and minimising administration costs will be key. We'll be focusing too on proposed new borrowing powers. How could they be used to boost investment as we emerge from recession?

We will also be looking at others parts of the bill, such as proposals to transfer power over speed limits and air weapons to Scotland. Our report will be published before the Scottish Parliament makes a final decision on the bill next March.

• Wendy Alexander MSP is convener of the Scottish Parliament's Scotland Bill Committee. Views from organisations and individuals should be sent to: [email protected] by 14 January