Page last updated at 17:37 GMT, Wednesday, 23 May 2012 18:37 UK
Welfare Reform Bill debate
Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon told MSPs the issue of welfare reform is "one of growing concern across this chamber and across this entire country" as she called on MSPs to back the general principles of the Welfare Reform (Further Provision) (Scotland) Billon 23 May 2012.
MSPs unanimously backed the general principles of the legislation at decision time.
During the debate Ms Sturgeon said the UK reform would have a "considerable and continuing impact on the most vulnerable people in our society".
The Welfare Reform (Further Provision) (Scotland) Bill is an enabling one which confers powers on Scottish ministers to make provision via regulations for changes in consequence of the new Universal Credit and Personal Independence Payment created under the
Welfare Reform Act(UK)
It aims to ensure that devolved policies such as the provision of free school meals, care and blue badge parking will continue to operate in Scotland after changes are made to the UK benefit system.
Ms Sturgeon said it was almost five months to the day since the chamber had taken the "unprecedented" decision to vote against the Legislative Consent Motion to the UK Welfare Reform Bill now an act, which led to the need for Holyrood legislation.
The health secretary said there had not been adequate detail on this package of reforms, which will affect hundreds of thousands of Scots, there still was not much detail. She detailed the Scottish government's efforts on mitigation, passported benefits, the social fund and council tax benefit.
On the latter issue Ms Sturgeon she was "very pleased and very proud" of the action taken by the Scottish government and Cosla to protect 558,000 people in Scotland from the cut in council tax benefit.
The health secretary said to maintain the provision of passported benefits the passage of the bill must be completed before the summer recess.
She said: "I believe passionately one of the reasons behind this parliament is to protect the most vulnerable, that is our duty, this government will do everything in its power to do so".
Welfare Reform Bill Committee convener Michael McMahon said the committee agreed the general principles of the bill but had disagreement on some issues.
Mr McMahon said he and his Labour colleague Jackie Baillie had wanted a more open process for the development of the regulations that will follow once the detail has emanated from Westminster, via affirmative procedures rather than negative ones.
His colleague, Ms Baillie explained an affirmative procedure allowed more scrutiny but took the same amount of time as a negative procedure so there would be no delay.
She said the SNP MSPs and Conservative MSP on the committee ignored the evidence of stakeholders in not opting for positive procedures for the regulations to follow the Welfare Reform (Further Provision) (Scotland) Bill and in so doing had "diminished themselves".
The Labour health spokesperson also called on more funding for advice centres like the Citizens Advice Bureaus, especially as England and Wales had already done so with a resulting £1.7m funding for this year and the next two coming to Scotland, which as yet remains unallocated.
Scottish Conservative MSP Alex Johnstone told MSPs the job of simplifying and streamlining the welfare system should have been tackled ages ago and the Scottish Parliament had been wrong to reject the Legislative Consent Motion to the UK Welfare Reform Bill.
However he accepted the need for the Scottish legislation as a result of that decision five months ago and confirmed he would back the general principles of the bill.
The second part of the debate can be viewed below:
Welfare Reform (Further Provision) (Scotland) Bill 2
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