Scotland politics

Scottish secretary and MSPs discuss further devolution

Scottish secretary David Mundell (left) and Bruce Crawford, convenor of the Scottish Parliament's devolution committee, met with others in London. Image copyright PA
Image caption Scottish secretary David Mundell (left) and Bruce Crawford, convenor of the Scottish Parliament's devolution committee, met in London

The Scottish secretary has insisted the UK government "will deliver the Smith recommendations" after a meeting with MSPs in London.

Members of Holyrood's devolution committee and David Mundell discussed further devolution for Scotland.

Committee convenor, Bruce Crawford MSP, said Mr Mundell had "signalled he will make some amendments to the current draft clauses".

Mr Mundell said the UK government had made its position clear.

The MSPs have said the legislation proposed by the Conservatives falls short of the Smith Commission recommendations.

Following the discussion, Mr Crawford added that the MSPs "would have liked to have seen more change before any Bill is introduced".

He said the meeting with Mr Mundell was "constructive and helpful".

'Perfect balance'

Mr Mundell, meanwhile, said he was pleased to have met the MSPs, and welcomed the insights in particular of Linda Fabiani, who was one of the SNP's representatives on the Smith Commission.

He said: "I have made my position clear: the UK government will deliver the Smith recommendations, giving Scotland one of the most powerful devolved parliaments in the world.

"It will have powers over a wide range of tax decisions, including the Scottish rate of income tax, as well as additional powers in many other areas.

"This strikes the perfect balance of a strong Scotland within the security of the wider UK. The Scotland Bill will be brought forward shortly and will be subject to the full parliamentary process which will allow views to be heard and debated."

Last week, the devolution committee at the Scottish Parliament said the draft clauses that had been put forward by the previous UK government did not meet with "the spirit or the substance" of the Smith Commission's recommendations.

The Commission, set up in the wake of last year's independence referendum, proposed giving a range of new powers to Holyrood, including greater control over income tax and some responsibility for welfare and benefits.

'Reserve judgement'

The draft clauses were drawn up by the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition, ready to be implemented by whichever party won the General Election.

Since then, Prime Minister David Cameron has said he could consider "sensible suggestions" on what further powers could be transferred north.

Mr Crawford added: "We are pleased that the Secretary of State is moving quickly with the introduction of a new Scotland Bill.

"Our report sets out what changes the committee think are necessary to reach the baseline of a Bill that meets the spirit and substance of the Smith Commission's report.

"Parts of our report are being taken on board now and that is helpful. But let's see the Bill - we'll reserve judgement until then."

As well as Ms Fabiani and Mr Crawford, Labour MSP Lewis Macdonald also took part in the talks.

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