Page last updated at 17:32 GMT, Thursday, 28 June 2012 18:32 UK

Welfare Reform Bill debate

MSPs passed the Welfare Reform (Further Provision) (Scotland) Bill unanimously after its final debate on 28 June 2012.

During the debate Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon said the Scottish government "would do everything we can to protect" vulnerable people from the worst impact of the welfare reform.

Ms Sturgeon said it was the intention of the government to ensure stakeholders continued to be involved and consulted and "come with us every step of the way".

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) .

It aims to ensure that devolved policies such as the provision of free school meals and blue badge parking will continue to operate in Scotland after changes are made to the UK benefit system.

In closing the health secretary said she was not prepared to "expose vulnerable people to the risk of not getting their passported benefits".

She closed the debate saying: "On welfare we are most certainly not better together" and that the UK welfare reforms did "not reflect Scottish values".

During the debate, Scottish Labour social justice spokesperson Drew Smith said the Welfare Reform Committee had found the evidence being given on the potential impact of the reform "unrelentingly depressing".

Mr Smith said too much of the changes were solely based on a desire to bring down the benefit bill and the "most vulnerable are being punished out of all proportion".

Scottish Conservative MSP Alex Johnstone said his party would vote in favour of the bill but he was "disappointed it has become necessary" due to the parliament's partial rejection of the legislative consent motion on the UK Welfare Reform Bill.

Mr Johnstone said there was a need to ensure a few more people were working and a few less on welfare.

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said there was a need to make changes so some people have an escape from benefits.

Mr Rennie said to claim "we're wrecking the welfare state is an exaggeration" adding the reformed system will be a "genuine safety net and make work pay".


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