Queen's Speech outlines new Scottish Parliament powers

Image caption,
The Queen's speech took place at Westminster

The Scottish Parliament will get new powers under the Tory-Lib Dem coalition's programme for government.

The Queen's Speech included a pledge to implement the recommendations of the Calman review of devolution.

They include new tax powers for Holyrood, as well as powers over drink-driving, speed limits and airguns.

A total of 16 of the 20 bills announced at the state opening of parliament will apply in Scotland, under a programme to restore economic growth.

It is thought legislation to extend the new powers to Holyrood, contained in a Scotland Bill, may be launched in the autumn.

A spokesman for Scottish Secretary Danny Alexander, said: "There's a serious intention to get on with this.

"We're moving faster than was previously envisaged but we are having engagement along the way to make sure we get a better package."

Mr Alexander added the measures in the Queen's Speech would "deliver real benefit for Scotland".

Other areas relating to Scotland include plans for a new high speed rail network and the scrapping of ID cards.

The Queen's Speech came after the Scottish government was told it would be expected to make savings of £332m, as part of UK Chancellor George Osborne's plan to save £6bn in the first wave of public spending cuts to reduce the UK's deficit.

Scottish ministers have accepted an offer from the UK government to defer the cuts to support economic recovery.

The Calman Commission, established with the support of Labour, Tory and Lib Dem MSPs, recommended new powers should be devolved from Westminster to Holyrood, including responsibility for raising half of Scotland's income tax.

But First Minister Alex Salmond, who has called for full fiscal powers for Scotland, said the proposals had been overtaken by the UK government's plan to pay for a rise in the income tax allowance with personal increases in National Insurance, under which money would go straight to the Treasury.

The Calman Commission had also recommended that the Scottish Parliament should control national speed limits, drink-driving laws and airguns legislation.

SNP Westminster spokesman Angus Robertson said: "While the legislative programme was light on detail, some of the ideas contained within it have potential to deliver improved economic decision making for Scotland.

"On financial responsibilities, we need the powers to grow the Scottish economy and to give Scottish business a competitive advantage - decisions relating to Scotland's finances should be taken in Scotland.

"This would settle the age-old disputes about funding, and allow both governments to focus on economic recovery."

Scottish Labour leader Iain Gray called on the UK government to to ensure the Calman recommendations were passed before next year's Holyrood election.

He added: "People in Scotland need to know what powers the Scottish government will have when they vote in May 2011 so there cannot be any drift now from this Tory-Lib Dem government."

The Scottish government said five bills announced in the Queen's Speech were likely to need legislative consent motions, which allow the UK government to lesiglate in areas of devolved responsibility.

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