Last week I spoke in a debate on the report ‘New Powers for Scotland: An Interim Report on the Smith Commission and the UK Government’s Proposals’ produced by the Devolution (Further Powers) Committee.
You can access this report by going to; http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/S4_ScotlandBillCommittee/Reports/dfpr-15-03w-rev.pdf
The Committee on a unanimous basis have raised many issues and brought forward concerns in a number of areas where they and the Scottish government say the draft clauses published by the UK government in January do not meet the spirit or in substance of the conclusions of the Smith Commission.
I have set out my view that as a Parliament we must stand united to demand that the Smith proposals which all parties in the Parliament signed up to must be delivered in full.
A number of organisations produce briefs with their response to the report and some of these I have included here but you will also be able to access these from the organisations concerned. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) set out their views which in summery were;
- If it is to be meaningful and effective, devolution must be driven by the people of Scotland. There must be opportunities for the public to influence the process and contribute their views. Therefore we support the call from the Devolution Committee for ‘further public engagement, directly with the people of Scotland as well as representative bodies, charities, industry groups, voluntary bodies etc.’
- SCVO shares concerns raised in the report regarding the welfare provisions in the draft clauses. The clauses currently circumscribe tight parameters which potentially limit the possibilities and options available to the Scottish Parliament.
- From our response[i] to the Smith Commission it was clear that the majority of the third sector would like to see the full range of welfare powers (except pensions) devolved to the Scottish Parliament to enable it to design and implement its own system.
- SCVO supports the view expressed in the report that the intention of the Smith Commission was that all employment programmes currently contracted by DWP should be devolved. We would like to see the immediate devolution of powers over supporting people into employment to the Scottish Parliament
- Concern about the potential abolition of the Human Rights Act is echoing across the third sector and civil society.
- It is vital that there is a commitment to consider the impact of Income Tax proposals on Gift Aid as the legislative process develops.
- We welcome the Committee undertaking to seek clarification from the UK Government on the extent to which the clauses as drafted would limit the ability of Scottish Ministers to legislate with regard to equality issues.
- Evidence to the committee makes it clear that a simpler approach to devolution of the Crown Estate should be investigated. Regardless of the legislative approach adopted this should facilitate the transfer of Crown Estate assets and revenues to community bodies.
Inclusion Scotland would like to see all welfare benefits devolved and did a brief on their views for those that are being devolved which can be found at www.inclusionscotland.org