'Unworkable' plans dropped from final report, Lord Smith tells MSPs

Lord Smith answers MSP questions
Image caption Lord Smith answered MSP questions at Holyrood

Some proposals for new Scottish powers did not make it into the final Smith Commission report, MSPs have been told.

Lord Smith, who chaired the body set up after the Scottish independence "No" vote, said ideas which were judged "unworkable" did not feature.

Addressing members of the Devolution (Further Powers) Committee at Holyrood, he said he would not detail the plans that were left out.

However, the BBC revealed last week that welfare powers were dropped.

It saw a draft of the Commission's recommendations which included devolving the power to vary Universal Credit.

That did not make it into the final version, although some other welfare provisions - like Disability Living Allowance, Attendance Allowance and Carer's Allowance - survived.

During his 75-minute evidence session to MSPs, Lord Smith was asked about his negotiations with the 10 party representatives who sat on the commission.


He told the committee: "There were nine plenary meetings - so there were nine drafts. Things were changing all the time."

Asked if any recommendations had come out before the final report was published, Lord Smith said: "Yes, is the short answer.

"I have been reading blow-by-blow accounts in the Glasgow Herald, Scotsman and so on about what exactly happened inside.

"I don't want to go into that but, yes, there were some proposals we felt could have caused detriment - some proposals that looked as if they might be unworkable.

"So, we had to look at the practicalities of a lot of these things and obviously some things we felt we couldn't go forward with."

Lord Smith of Kelvin chaired the Smith Commission on Scottish devolution.

We intend this [devolution plan] to be written in such a way that a plague of boils or something will break out if anyone decides to prorouge this parliament

Lord Smith speaks to MSPs about new Scottish powers

In a report last week it recommended that the parliament should set its own income tax rates with the resulting money being spent in Scotland.

It also suggested devolution of air passenger duty and that a portion of VAT be given to the Scottish Parliament.

Lord Smith came before Holyrood's newly-convened Devolution (Further Powers) Committee.

The committee features three MSPs who sat on the commission - SNP MSP Linda Fabiani, former Scottish Conservative leader Annabel Goldie and ex-Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Tavish Scott.

Labour is represented by Lewis Macdonald and Drew Smith and the committee convener is SNP MSP Bruce Crawford.

The commission had the backing of every major Scottish political party but after the final report was published the SNP said it did not go far enough.

On the issue of consensus, Lord Smith said: "For the purposes of this particular commission, which I'd now like to be called an agreement - commissions tend to last a couple of years, this was 10 weeks - but we did get agreement.

"All five parties were happy that I stood up and said that we had arrived at an agreement among all parties and that is unprecedented. That hasn't been done before - Calman didn't work that way.

"All five parties signed up to this, but of course they have their particular convictions outside."

He explained to the committee that the new powers and the future of the Scottish Parliament would be guaranteed in the strongest possible way.

Lord Smith said: "We intend this [devolution powers] to be written in such a way that a plague of boils or something will break out if anyone in the future ever decides to prorogue this parliament."

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