Scotland politics

Scottish drink-drive limit consultation set to begin

Man drinking
Image caption Scottish ministers want to lower the drink-drive limit from 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood to 50mg

Proposals to change the drink-drive limit will be opened for consultation in the coming weeks, the Scottish government has said.

The new responsibility is among powers being transferred from Westminster to Holyrood later this week under the recently passed 2012 Scotland Act .

Other responsibilities include limited power over airguns and the national speed limit.

Ministers vowed to lower the Scottish drink-drive limit "as a priority".

Last month Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said proposals to change it from 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood to 50mg would be brought forward "with a view to the change taking effect as soon as possible".

The new Scotland Act came about as a result of the work of the Calman Commission, set up to look at Scottish devolution 10 years on from its inception, in 1999.

The power to set the drink-drive limit is among those being devolved to the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday.

The date, 3 July, also marks the formal re-naming of the Scottish Executive as the Scottish Government, despite the term being widely used since the SNP came to power in 2007.

Government Strategy Secretary Bruce Crawford welcomed the additional responsibilities and said ministers were "moving quickly" to make use of them to benefit the people of Scotland.

He said: "On speed limits, these powers will enable the Scottish government to make the right decisions for Scottish roads rather than have any changes imposed by Westminster. Road safety is our first priority and we have no current plans to increase speed limits.

"Work is already under way on airguns reform through the work of the Scottish Firearms Consultative Panel. Another meeting will be chaired by Mr MacAskill over the summer and a consultation will begin in the coming weeks on proposed changes to drink-drive limits."

However, Mr Crawford said the Scotland Act had been a missed opportunity.

"I believe in particular the Act's limited taxation and borrowing powers will be out of date long before they actually have any effect," he said.

"This Act will be remembered for what it did not do."

Powers to set a Scottish rate of income tax, land transactions and landfill taxes will be transferred to Holyrood at a later date.

Scotland Office Minister David Mundell said: "The commencement order next week is just the start of a historic transfer of powers to the Scottish government under the Scotland Act, each of which was voted for and agreed between Scotland's two governments.

"It will be for the Scottish government to decide how to use these powers and the subsequent major transfer of financial responsibility for income tax and borrowing."

He added: "It is wrong to assert this transfer is anything less than a major step forward for Scotland.

"If there are any gaps in the Scotland Act, the fault lies with the Scottish government and its inability to provide sufficient evidence to support their demands for alternative powers."

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