Scotland

New Scots secretary Michael Moore defends keeping post

Scottish Secretary Michael Moore has defended his UK government post, despite conceeding his party eventually wanted to see it abolished.

The Lib Dem MP said the job was needed while new powers were given to Scotland and the economy was sorted out.

Mr Moore was speaking in the Commons at his first session of Scottish questions, the day before he is due to visit the Scottish Parliament.

He said legislation on new Holyrood powers would come in the autumn.

Facing jibes from his predecessor, Jim Murphy, Mr Moore said he was happy to support the UK government by serving in the 300-year-old post of secretary of state for Scotland, but added that Lib Dem policy was still to "eventually" see the job scrapped.

Mr Murphy pointed out that Mr Moore had now served as Scottish secretary for the same length of time as Danny Alexander, who replaced David Laws as Chief Secretary to the Treasury.

"I hope the rest of the day goes well for you and we will see you tomorrow," said the Labour MP.

He went on: "You have previously argued for the abolition of the Scotland Office. When did you change your mind?"

Mr Moore responded: "As far as the position of the secretary of state for Scotland is concerned, I am not changing a bit about our party policy, which is eventually to see the position abolished.

"However, in the course of getting the coalition agreement together and recognising the exciting opportunity to get this settlement through and deliver improvements to Scottish devolution, I was very happy to support the continuation of the office, not least because the economic legacy left by your government is something we need to tackle very seriously indeed."

The UK governemnt has pledged a bill to give increased powers to Holyrood, including increased tax-raising powers, as recommended by the Calman Commission review of devolution.

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