Scotland politics

Scottish independence: Pro-Union parties make pledge on Holyrood powers

Ruth Davidson, Johann Lamont and Willie Rennie Image copyright PA
Image caption Ruth Davidson, Johann Lamont and Willie Rennie all pledged to push for more devolved powers

Scotland's main opposition party leaders have jointly pledged to increase Holyrood fiscal powers in the event of a vote against independence.

The Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat leaders also said they would work to boost Scottish Parliament responsibility for social security.

Johann Lamont, Ruth Davidson and Willie Rennie made the joint declaration.

Scottish ministers argue the nation needs full independence to realise its potential.

Each of the parties has already set out proposals to devolve more power to Holyrood and will promise to act on them, whoever wins the next UK general election.

Tax and other powers

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Scottish Labour's devolution commission said MSPs should be able to vary tax by up to 15p, giving them the option of restoring the 50p rate for top earners.

And it said housing benefit should be devolved to Holyrood, allowing MSPs to scrap the UK government's controversial under occupancy charge, branded the "bedroom tax" by Labour and other critics.

The Scottish Conservatives said Scotland should be given full income tax powers and responsibility on welfare issues which relate to devolved areas, such as housing benefits, and attendance allowance.

The Liberal Democrats want Holyrood to be able to raise and spend most of its own taxes and borrow on its own terms.

In their joint statement, the three party leaders, said: "We support a strong Scottish Parliament in a strong United Kingdom and we support the further strengthening of the parliament's powers.

"The three parties delivered more powers for Holyrood through the Calman Commission which resulted in the Scotland Act 2012.

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Image caption The party leaders unveiled their joint pledge during an event in Edinburgh

"We now pledge to further strengthen the powers of the Scottish Parliament, in particular in the areas of fiscal responsibility and social security.

"We believe that Scotland should have a stronger Scottish Parliament while retaining full representation for Scotland at Westminster."

SNP MSP Kenny Gibson said of the joint pledge: "We are better off taking decisions for Scotland in Scotland - and by becoming independent we can apply these benefits to the rest of our national life currently controlled by Westminster, including job-creation, getting rid of nuclear weapons, and representing ourselves in Europe.

"That is the real international outlook for young people and everyone in Scotland - instead of having our horizons limited by Westminster, which doesn't represent Scottish votes or our interests.

"We already know that three-times as many people in Scotland trust the Scottish Parliament, rather than Westminster, to make the right decisions for Scotland - and that is the essence of what a 'Yes' vote is all about."