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by Tom Freeman
27 November 2014
Further devolution plans unveiled

Further devolution plans unveiled

New powers for the Scottish Parliament are being laid out this morning by the cross-party commission set up after the referendum on independence. Lord Smith, who chaired the commission said the new powers would make the Scottish Parliament "more powerful, more accountable and more autonomous."

New borrowing powers for the Scottish Parliament will allow the Scottish Government to balance the books, and is the most unexpected announcement.

Full powers over income tax rates and the responsibility for collecting them, air passenger duty and winter fuel payments are among the recommendations, along with the ability to create further welfare benefits, but most welfare benefits will be retained as reserved powers.

The Scottish Parliament will become permanent, so cannot be dissolved from Westminster. The Commission also recommends 16 and 17 year olds be given the vote in Scotland in time for the 2016 Holyrood elections. 

Lord Smith also advised people to be patient. "Change of this magnitude cannot be rushed through," he said.

Finance Minister John Swinney, who represented the SNP on the Commission, welcomed the consensus, but added "the proposals do not include the job-creating powers that Scotland so badly needs to get more people into work and grow the economy, or welfare powers to tackle in-work poverty."

Labour's Iain Gray said the proposals were "a promise kept to the people of Scotland. We made a vow which today we honour."

Michael Moore, the former Liberal Democrat Scottish Secretary said the proposals would deliver "home rule" for Scotland, while Scottish Green co-convener Maggie Chapman welcomed new powers over fracking and renewable energy, but only delivered "limited powers to defend Scots against austerity."

To discuss the recommendations with politicians and analysts, book now for Holyrood’s breakfast briefings, which will cover tax, welfare and the future of Scottish politics. 

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