Page last updated at 17:30 GMT, Wednesday, 23 May 2012 18:30 UK

Welfare Reform (Further Provision) (Scotland) Bill 2

Drew Smith MSP told the chamber "people who rely on benefits should be involved in shaping what happens next" as he closed the debate on the general principles of the Welfare Reform (Further Provision) (Scotland) Bill for Labour on 23 May 2012.

The 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) .

Mr Smith said advice centres like the Citizens Advice Bureaus (CABs) were already "grinding to a halt" as their funding had fallen by 9% as demand for their services rose.

He said that demand would "explode further" as the benefits cuts come in and he called for the £1.7m in Barnett consequentials, available after England and Wales increased funding to their advice centres, to be allocated to CABs.

Mary Scanlon MSP, closing for the Conservatives, said it was not clear what the Scottish government were going to do to mitigate the reforms in the UK Welfare Reform Act but said Labour and the SNP had raised the expectations of over half a million people on benefits in Scotland.

Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon said the Scottish government was doing the right thing to protect the most vulnerable people from the worst aspects of the welfare reform.

Ms Sturgeon reiterated the deadline for having the Welfare Reform (Further Provision)(Scotland) bill passed and the necessary regulations in the form of sub legislation that will flow from it also passed was April 2013.

The deadline was not of their making, said the health secretary, but it absolutely must be met.

She insisted the government would make every effort to ensure that stakeholder views were heard and listened to.

The general principles of the bill were unanimously voted for at decision time.

The first part of the debate can be viewed below:

Welfare Reform Bill 1

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