Scotland politics

What are the parties' proposals to the Smith Commission?

Scottish Parliament Image copyright AP

The Scottish Parliament's five parties have outlined which new powers they think should be devolved from Westminster, in the wake of the referendum vote against independence.

Here is what the SNP government, Labour, the Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and Greens have told the Smith Commission, which was set up by David Cameron to agree a way forward.


Tax and spending

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The Scottish government said:

  • All tax revenues should be retained in Scotland" unless there is a "specific reason" for any to remain reserved to Westminster
  • This includes income tax, national insurance, corporation tax, capital gains tax, fuel duty, air passenger duty and inheritance tax
  • The Scottish Parliament should have responsibility for all public spending, with payments made to the UK government "for reserved services".
  • Borrowing powers should be devolved

Labour said:

  • Scotland should have the power to raise 40% of its budget, through increasing the tax-varying powers to become available through the Scotland Act, from 10p to 15p - potentially raising an extra £2bn
  • Three-quarters of basic rate income tax would be under the control of the Scottish Parliament, which would also have the power to raise higher rates of tax
  • VAT, national insurance contributions, corporation tax, capital gains tax, fuel duty, air passenger duty and inheritance tax should remain reserved to Westminster
  • The Barnett formula for distributing public spending around the nations of the UK should continue

The Liberal Democrats said:

  • The Scottish Parliament should have the fiscal powers to raise most of what it spends
  • The UK government should retain spending power in several areas including defence, fiscal transfers and solidarity, social protection and equity
  • The Barnett Formula should be retained

The Scottish Greens said:

  • Scotland should have full control of income tax, including the right to set rates, bands and personal allowances
  • A percentage of revenue from VAT and corporation tax should come north, with the Scottish government having decisions on borrowing without limits set by the UK government

The Scottish Conservatives said:

  • Scotland should be responsible for setting the rates and bands of personal income tax
  • The Scottish Parliament should get a share of VAT

Pensions and welfare

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The Scottish government said:

  • Scotland should have powers over welfare spending, including all working age benefits

Labour said:

  • Housing benefit and attendance allowance should be devolved
  • The "core" of the welfare state, including pensions and most welfare benefits should remain under Westminster control

The Liberal Democrats said:

  • There should be a single welfare system across the UK so, people have the same pensions and support wherever they live

The Scottish Greens said:

  • The bulk of the welfare system, including housing benefit, should be devolved to Scotland

The Scottish Conservatives said:

  • The Scottish Parliament should have responsibility on welfare issues which relate to devolved areas, such as housing benefit and attendance allowance
  • There is a case for allowing the Scottish government to "supplement" UK welfare benefits
  • Responsibility for the state pension should remain at UK level

Defence and foreign affairs

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The Scottish government said:

  • The Scottish Parliament should "directly represent its interests on devolved matters in the EU"

Labour, the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives said:

  • Defence and foreign affairs should remain a matter for the UK government

The Scottish Greens said:

  • Scotland should be represented in UK overseas delegations and "Scotland's perspective" to be taken into account in UK international negotiations

Economic policy

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The Scottish government said:

  • Scotland should have powers over employment policy, the minimum wage and employment programmes

Labour said:

  • There should be a new Scottish Health and Safety Executive and responsibility for employment tribunals and equality devolved
  • Financial and economic matters including monetary policy, currency, regulation, debt management and employment law should remain reserved to Westminster
  • The work programme should be devolved to local authorities under the oversight of the Scottish Parliament

The Liberal Democrats said:

  • There should be a unified, single market across the United Kingdom, with the UK government retaining responsibility for macroeconomic policy

The Scottish Greens said:

  • Holyrood should have powers to set an economic and industrial policy designed for Scotland and its regions
  • The party backs Labour proposals to devolve health and safety and employment tribunals, and also called for trades union legislation to be devolved

The Scottish Conservatives said:

  • A new independent Scottish Fiscal Commission is needed to provide macroeconomic forecasts

Other powers

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The Scottish government said:

  • Scotland should have control over transport policy not currently devolved, including rail, as well as competition, energy, broadcasting policy and the Crown Estate

Labour said:

  • Transport policy should be devolved to allow the ScotRail franchise to be run on a not-for-profit basis

The Scottish Greens said:

  • Energy, transport, employment law and human rights law should be devolved
  • The party would like "a degree of flexibility" in immigration and asylum rules

The Scottish Conservatives said:

  • Their devolution commission proposals would be a "starting point" for further discussion on powers and "a floor rather a ceiling"