SCOTTISH Secretary David Mundell has pledged to bring major changes to the Scotland Bill in a move that is the first suggestion by the UK Government that the legislation falls short of the all-party Smith Commission proposals.
During exchanges in Scottish questions Mr Mundell also promised he would bring the changes at the next stage of the Bill in the Commons after criticisms over his plans to do most of the work in the Lords.
I want a debate on the substance. I don’t want stunts, soundbites and press releasesDavid Mundell
However, the Scottish Secretary, who is still in negotiations with the Scottish Government, refused to rule out bringing changes in the Lords despite objections from the SNP on its “unelected” status.
His willingness to make concessions came as Labour shadow Scottish Secretary Ian Murray called for greater controls on welfare for Holyrood, as he revealed figures from the Commons Library which suggest that 136,800 families in Scotland will lose an average £1,859 as a result of Chancellor George Osborne’s cut to working tax credits in the Budget.
Despite being pressed on where he will make concessions, Mr Mundell refused to say which changes he plans.
However, he told MPs: “It is my intention to make substantive changes to the Scotland when it comes back at Report Stage.”
He said that he had “noted” the amendments put down at committee stage by Opposition parties and “will reflect on them all” and decide which changes to bring in.
He added: “Some of the Labour amendments were sensible and constructive and some were put down for party political reasons. I will look at all amendments and sort out the wheat from the chaff.”
But on the SNP’s amendment he mocked the Nationalists for putting forward an amendment to devolve national insurance but “none of them speaking to support it”.
He added: “I want a debate on the substance. I don’t want stunts, soundbites and press releases.”