Scotland politics

Scottish devolution: What next for Scotland?

As the new majority Conservative government gets down to business, the BBC's Hayley Jarvis looks at the plan for Scotland and what might happen next.

What powers are heading to the Scottish Parliament?

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Media captionThe Queen delivered her speech in the House of Lords

During the election campaign Conservative leader David Cameron pledged to give more powers to Scotland within 100 days of winning the election. He promised to create "the strongest devolved government anywhere in the world with important powers over taxation".

These new powers for Scotland were outlined in the Queen's Speech.

The Scotland Bill will be based on recommendations made by the Smith Commission - the cross-party group formed after the independence referendum to look at what additional powers might be handed to Scotland.

If the legislation makes it over the usual parliamentary hurdles, new powers will include;

In addition, the Scottish Parliament has already been given the power to extend voting to 16 and 17 year olds in time for the 2016 Scottish Parliamentary elections.

Is everyone happy with the proposals?

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Media captionNicola Sturgeon wants a "good deal" on fiscal autonomy

The Scotland Bill will be based on draft legislation, or a "command paper", which was published by the previous Tory/Lib Dem coalition government in January. But a committee of MSPs at Holyrood, where the SNP is in government, said the powers plan "fell short" of recommendations made by Smith Commission.

SNP leader and Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon had called for a new Scotland Bill that would go beyond Smith.

She wants additional powers, including control of:

  • National Insurance
  • the minimum wage
  • Corporation Tax
  • full control of welfare and employment
  • trade union law

None of these feature in the forthcoming Bill which is one of 21 proposed by the majority Conservative government.

Nevertheless, the Scottish government will be seeking assurances that UK ministers cannot veto any of the powers already promised to Scotland in the draft legislation, such as changes to benefits.

Full fiscal autonomy - the responsibility for all areas of tax and spending except defence and foreign affairs - remains a key goal for the SNP, but not yet.

During an interview on the BBC's Andrew Marr, Ms Sturgeon said she would be pressing the Prime Minster to give Scotland greater financial control, but "clearly that will take a number of years to implement".

Why is it important that David Cameron delivers on this?

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Just two days before people in Scotland cast their votes in the Scottish independence referendum, the leaders of the three Unionist parties - David Cameron (Conservatives); Ed Miliband (Labour) and Nick Clegg (Liberal Democrats) - made a public "vow" to give Holyrood more powers.

On 18 September 2014, the electorate voted 55% to 45% against independence and Mr Cameron promised the day after the referendum that if he won the 2015 General Election he would deliver the "vow".

Would David Cameron go further in the future?

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Image caption The SNP won 56 of Scotland 59 seats - that was up by 50 on its 2010 intake

The general election saw the SNP win 56 of Scotland's 59 Westminster seats which prompted party leader Ms Sturgeon to pledge that her MPs would provide the loudest ever voice for Scots in the House of Commons.

Following the election, Mr Cameron met with Ms Sturgeon who called their talks "constructive and business like".

While the PM has said he would look at "sensible suggestions" for more powers, he has given no indication he would go beyond Smith.

The new Scottish Secretary David Mundell has also said he believed the Smith proposals were the "right package" for the country.

He too signalled the UK government would be prepared to listen to calls for more powers, but as part of usual parliamentary procedures.

What's the story for England, Wales and Northern Ireland?

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Media captionDavid Cameron: ''Together we can make Great Britain greater still"

After the Scottish independence referendum, Mr Cameron made a speech outside No 10 Downing Street in which he said the UK needed, not only a new deal for Scotland, but for the "millions of voices in England" to be heard. So, what has happened since September last year?

  • ENGLAND - Before the election, Mr Cameron tasked the then Leader of the Commons William Hague to draw up plans enabling only English MPs to vote on English matters. During the election campaign, Mr Cameron pledged that an English rate of income tax would feature in the first budget of new Conservative government. This Queen's Speech outlined that changes would be made to the standing orders of the House of Commons -basically the rules that govern the way laws are passed - ensuring that only MPs representing English constituencies could vote on legislation affecting England alone.
  • WALES - The new government's programme details further devolution of powers to Wales, including a new reserved powers model to clarify the division of powers between the Welsh Assembly and parliament. The assembly will also be given more powers over energy, transport and local government elections in Wales.
  • NORTHERN IRELAND - Devolution of powers has been suspended and reinstated several times since its Assembly was created following the Good Friday Agreement in 1998. It has control over areas such as agriculture, education, health and social services, economic development and the environment and in March 2010 an agreement was passed to transfer powers of justice and policing. Although there is no big devolved power heading to Northern Ireland, a Bill is in the pipeline which will provide for full and independent investigations into "unsolved Troubles-related deaths".

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