Page last updated at 16:08 GMT, Wednesday, 25 November 2009

New Holyrood powers planned after Calman review

composit of pictures, drinking, speeding, money and airgun
Powers over drink-drive limits and speeding could be handed over

Plans to give new tax-raising powers to the Scottish Parliament have been outlined by the UK government, as part of a radical shake-up of devolution.

Scottish secretary Jim Murphy said the 10-year-old parliament had been a success, but it was now time to make it more financially accountable.

He told the Commons powers in other areas would be devolved - but that may not happen for another six years.

The Scottish government said Scotland's real future lay with independence.

The Scottish secretary's statement came after a commitment in the Queen's Speech to respond to the findings of the Calman Commission review of devolution.

The proposals, set out in a white paper, would also see powers to control airguns and set drink-drive and speed limits devolved to the Scottish Parliament.

Jim Murphy Calman statement: From BBC Democracy Live

Mr Murphy said a new Scotland Bill would be published after the General Election if Labour was returned to power, and would become law before the Holyrood elections in 2015.

He told MPs: "Scotland has two parliaments - this parliament, which remains an important symbol of the UK and which continues to have vital daily relevance in Scotland, and the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood, which has firmly established itself over the last decade in Scottish hearts and minds.

"Since the first day of devolution, the Scottish government has been accountable for how it spends taxpayers' money - under today's proposals, they will also be held to account for how they raise it."

Under the plans outlined by the Scottish secretary, Westminster would cut income tax by 10p in Scotland and reduce the Treasury block grant, leaving it to Holyrood to make up the difference.

In addition, three other taxes - stamp duty, aggregates levy and landfill - would also be devolved, with a corresponding £500m cut in the block grant.

'Flimsy' paper

The UK government would give new powers to Holyrood on capital borrowing, with Scotland having to repay the cash through increasing tax.

SNP Westminster leader Angus Robertson said the powers could be devolved now, and accused UK ministers of delay.

He asked Mr Murphy: "What explanation will you give to a mother or father, to a family of a victim, who could have been saved from harm but wasn't because the UK government didn't act for a year?"

Shadow Scottish Secretary David Mundell backed the principal of devolving tax powers if the Tories won the next UK election, adding: "But we will do this through our own white paper, not with the government's proposals launched in the dying days of this parliament."

Jim Murphy
Jim Murphy announced the planned changes in the House of Commons

The Liberal Democrats' Scottish affairs spokesman, Alistair Carmichael, supported the UK government's position.

But he added: "What does the government's white paper really add to the process, apart from further delay in the implementation, where there is a consensus, and giving the Conservatives an opportunity for the sort of backsliding we have seen today."

The UK government proposals also pledged to look at the running of Scottish Parliament elections, currently reserved to Westminster.

The plans came just before the Scottish government sets out its white paper on independence, due on St Andrew's Day.

Scottish Constitution Minister Mike Russell told BBC Scotland it would be more substantial than the "very flimsy" paper outlined by the Scottish secretary.



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