THE Scotland Bill completed its Westminster stages with Commons agreement to the final Bill today.
The debate on Scotland’s future has already moved on from the provisions in the Bill to what increased powers the Scottish Parliament will have in the future.
The Government believes that independence would provide the greatest opportunity for Scotland to flourish, and will make that case for the referendum on the nation’s future in autumn 2014.
The Bill provides the Scottish Parliament with limited taxation powers over income tax, land transaction and landfill taxes, and some powers to borrow for capital purposes.
It also devolves responsibility for regulation of air weapons, and powers to set drink driving and speed limits, as well as introducing a new procedure for Scottish criminal cases to be considered by the UK Supreme Court.
Following negotiations the Scottish Government reached agreement with the UK Government to remove damaging aspects of the Bill, particularly on the implementation of the financial provisions.
However, the Bill could have gone considerably further in enhancing the tools available to the Scottish Government to improve Scotland’s economy and create jobs, as proposed by the Scottish Government and the Scotland Bill Committee of the Scottish Parliament.
The Scottish Parliament gave its unanimous consent to the Bill on 18 April.
Bruce Crawford, Cabinet Secretary for Parliamentary Business and Government Strategy, said: “We welcome the additional responsibilities for the Scottish Parliament in the Scotland Bill. Work is well underway on how these new responsibilities will be exercised to the benefit of the people of Scotland.
“However, the Bill does not meet the aspirations of the people of Scotland – that is clear from the result of the 2011 elections to Holyrood; and from all the opinion poll and survey evidence.
“For example, under the Bill the Scottish Parliament will only be responsible for about 16% of taxes raised in Scotland leaving 84% with Westminster. Already all political parties, civic Scotland and the Scottish people are looking beyond the Bill.
“The debate will now start in earnest on Scotland’s constitutional future, leading to a referendum in autumn 2014. It is clear that our preference is Independence – it is now the responsibility of the anti-independence parties to explain their proposals for the future devolution of responsibilities before the referendum in autumn 2014”