Only a few days to go: We’re raising £25,000 to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can hold their elected representatives to account.Donate to our crowdfunder
Amendments made: 61, page 13, line 8, after “(2)” insert “, (2B)”.
This amendment gives power to the Scottish Parliament to amend subsection 2(2B) of the Scotland Act 1998, which relates to the power of the Scottish Ministers to set the date of an election for membership of the Scottish Parliament in certain circumstances.
Amendment 62, page 13, line 14, after “28” insert “(4) and”.
This amendment gives power to the Scottish Parliament to amend subsection 28(4) of the Scotland Act 1998, which relates to the Clerks dating of Royal Assent for a Bill.
Amendment 63, page 13, at the end of line 14 insert—
(i) section 31(3),”.
This amendment gives power to the Scottish Parliament to amend subsection 31(3) of the Scotland Act 1998, which relates to determining through standing orders the form and manner of a certain statements by the Presiding Officer.
Amendment 64, page 13, line 16, leave out “39” and insert “38”.
This amendment gives power to the Scottish Parliament to amend section 38 of the Scotland Act 1998, which relates to Letters Patent and proclamations.
Amendment 65, page 13, line 19, leave out “(1B)(a) and (b),” and insert “(1)(a) to (c)”.
This amendment gives power to the Scottish Parliament to amend subsection 44(1)(c) of the Scotland Act 1998, which relates to the Lord Advocate and Solicitor General for Scotland’s membership of the Scottish Government.
Amendment 66, page 13, line 22, after “47” insert “(2) and”.
This amendment gives power to the Scottish Parliament to amend subsection 47(2) of the Scotland Act 1998, which relates to the Scottish Parliament’s agreement to the appointment of ministers.
Amendment 67, page 13, line 24, after “49(2)” insert “, (3)”.
This amendment gives power to the Scottish Parliament to amend subsection 49(3) of the Scotland Act 1998, which relates to the Scottish Parliament’s agreement to the appointment of junior ministers.
Amendment 68, page 13, line 26, leave out “section 69(3)” and insert—
“(i) section 69(2) to (5), and
(ii) section 70(1) to (5) and (7) to (9),”
This amendment gives power to the Scottish Parliament to amend subsections 69(2) to (5) of the Scotland Act 1998, which relate to the Auditor General for Scotland, and subsections 70(1) to (5) and (7) to (9) of that Act, which relate to financial control, accounts and audit.
Amendment 69, page 13, line 28, after “91,” insert
“92(1), (2) and (4) to (6),”.
This amendment gives power to the Scottish Parliament to amend subsections 92(1), (2) and (4) to (6) of the Scotland Act 1998, which relate to the Queen’s Printer for
On a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. Last night, on Remembrance Sunday, a picture of a swastika was projected on to the House of Commons with a message saying, “Modi not welcome”. As you will be aware, the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, is visiting here later this week. Can you confirm that this will be thoroughly investigated, that it has nothing whatsoever to do with the Government or the House authorities, and that the perpetrators will be caught and suitably punished?
On Remembrance Sunday there is no time when it is acceptable to project anything on to the House of Commons without permission, but to project a swastika on the visit of a state leader is totally unacceptable. The point has been made, and it will be taken on board and dealt with. I am absolutely convinced that the police will be looking into it as a matter of urgency.
I know that I do not need to explain it to you, and I do not need to waste any more time because we need to move on to the Bill.
I know they are very rare. Am I right, Mr Deputy Speaker, in thinking that it would be in order for any amendment to be moved? I am rather surprised that the SNP has not moved amendment 224 on “full fiscal autonomy but not quite yet”. Is there any reason that would have prevented it from moving that amendment?
It is not for the Chair to decide what the SNP does; it is up to the SNP to decide what it moves or does not move. As I said, I knew that it was not a point of order, and I knew that you knew the answer before you asked me.
New Clause 14
(2) In the Exceptions, after exception 8 (see section 23 above) insert—
The subject-matter of section 13 of the Social Security Act 1988 (benefits under schemes for improving nutrition: pregnant women, mothers and children).”
(3) In the Interpretation provision, at the end insert—
“The reference to the subject-matter of section 13 of the Social Security Act 1988 is to be construed as a reference to it as at the day on which section [Welfare foods] of the Scotland Act 2015 comes into force (and, accordingly, paragraph 5(1) of Part 3 of this Schedule does not apply to that reference).”
(4) Omit Section J5 (welfare foods).
(5) In the Social Security Act 1988, in section 13(2) (benefits under schemes for improving nutrition: consultation) omit “the Scottish Ministers and”.”
This amendment devolves to the Scottish Parliament legislative competence regarding welfare foods, enabling the Scottish Parliament, in relation to Scotland, to abolish or amend schemes for the provision of welfare foods, as currently made under section 13 of the Social Security Act 1988, or to make new schemes for the provision of welfare foods.
Brought up, and read the First time.
With this it will be convenient to discuss Government new clause 34—Power to create other new benefits
Government new clause 15—Abortion
Government new clause 16—Public sector duty regarding socio-economic inequalities
Government new clause 17—Destination of fines, forfeitures and fixed penalties
New clause 2—
A benefit not in existence at the relevant date provided entitlement to or the purpose of the benefit is different from entitlement to or the purpose of any benefit that is— For the purpose of this exception—
(a) in existence at the relevant date,
(b) payable by or on behalf of a Minister of the Crown, and
(c) otherwise a reserved benefit.
“the relevant date” means the date of introduction into Parliament of the Bill that becomes the Scotland Act 2015;
“reserved benefit” means a benefit which is to any extent a reserved matter.””
The new Clause expands and clarifies the right of the Scottish Government to create new benefits—that is, benefits not in existence on the date on which the bill is passed.
New clause 3—
“Joint Committee on Welfare Devolution
‘(1) There is to be a Committee (to be known as the Joint Committee on Welfare Devolution) to examine the transfer, implementation and operation of the powers devolved to the Scottish Parliament by Part 3 of this Act.
(2) The Joint Committee on Welfare Devolution is to be responsible for ensuring full co-operation, consultation and information-sharing between the UK Government, the Scottish Government, and relevant stakeholders.
(3) The Joint Committee on Welfare Devolution is to publish a report—
(a) on the transfer and implementation of the powers devolved to the Scottish Parliament by Part 3 of this Act at least once every three months for the first three years from the date when this Act is passed, and
(b) on the operation of the powers devolved to the Scottish Parliament by Part 3 of this Act at least once in each calendar year after three years from the date when this Act is passed.
(4) Schedule (The Joint Committee on Welfare Devolution), which makes further provision in relation to the Joint Committee on Welfare Devolution, has effect.”
This new Clause, linked to New Schedule NS1 on the Joint Committee on Welfare Devolution, provides for a cross-Parliament committee to oversee the transition and implementation of welfare powers transferred under this Act. The Committee would include members from both Parliaments and would be required to report frequently in the transition phase and thereafter annually.
New clause 5—
“Childcare element of universal credit
In Section F1 of Part 2 of Schedule 5 to the Scotland Act 1998, in Exceptions, after exception 6 (see section 22 above) insert—
The subject-matter of regulations 31 to 34 of the Universal Credit Regulations 2013.””
This new clause would devolve to the Scottish Parliament the power to make rules about the childcare element of Universal Credit.
New clause 10—
“Commission on social and economic rights
‘(1) The Secretary of State shall appoint a commission on social and economic rights.
(2) The Secretary of State shall invite the Presiding Officers or Speakers of the House of Commons, House of Lords, National Assembly of Wales, Northern Ireland Assembly and the Scottish Parliament each to nominate no more than three persons to the commission on social and economic rights.
(3) The commission on social and economic rights must report on—
(a) the practicality of making the Scottish Parliament and Scottish Government subject to the rights contained in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; and
(b) the consequences of Scottish devolution for the attainment of economic and social rights throughout the United Kingdom.
(4) The Secretary of State may by regulations determine the role, composition, organisation and powers of the commission on social and economic rights.”
The purpose of this New Clause is to create a commission to consider whether economic and social rights could be made justiciable in Scotland, and the prospects for achieving fuller attainment of economic and social rights throughout the United Kingdom.
New clause 18—
‘(1) In Part 2 of Schedule 5 to the Scotland Act 1998, Section F1 is amended as follows.
(2) In the Exceptions, after exception 9 (see section (Welfare foods) (2) above) insert—
The subject-matter of the Tax Credits Act 2002.””
This New Clause devolves to the Scottish Parliament the power to make provision for child tax credit, and working tax credit.
New clause 19—
“Employment and industrial relations
‘(1) In Part 2 of Schedule 5 to the Scotland Act 1998, Head H (Employment) is amended as follows.
(2) Omit Section H1 (employment and industrial relations).
(3) Insert new Section H1A as follows.
“H1A. National Minimum Wage
The subject-matter of the National Minimum Wage Act 1998.””
This new clause would devolve employment rights and duties and industrial relations, except for the national minimum wage, to the Scottish Parliament.
New clause 20—
“National minimum wage
‘(1) In Part 2 of Schedule 5 to the Scotland Act 1998, Head H (Employment) is amended as follows.
(2) Omit ‘(h) the National Minimum Wage Act 1998’.
(3) For the heading “Exception”, substitute “Exceptions”.
(4) After the heading “Exceptions” insert—
“(none) “The subject-matter of the National Minimum Wage Act 1998.””
This new clause would devolve the subject-matter of the National Minimum Wage Act 1998 to the Scottish Parliament.
New clause 21—
“National Insurance: employers’ contributions
‘(1) Section F1 of Schedule 5 to the Scotland Act 1998 is amended as follows.
(2) In the illustrations, omit “National Insurance;”
(3) In the Exceptions, after exception 11 (see section (Benefits relating to children)) insert—
National Insurance so far as relating to contributions payable by employers.””
This new clause would devolve employers’ National Insurance contributions to the Scottish Parliament.
New clause 22—
“Job search and support
In Part 2 of Schedule 5 to the Scotland Act 1998, omit Section H3 (job search and support).”
This new clause would devolve employment support programmes to the Scottish Parliament.
New clause 23—
“Working age benefits
In Section F1 of Part 2 of Schedule 5 to the Scotland Act 1998, in the Exceptions, after exception 9 (see section 23A above) insert—
Benefits entitlement to which, or the purposes of which, are the same as or similar to those of any of the following benefits—
(b) jobseeker’s allowance (whether contributions-based or income based) under the Jobseekers Act 1995;
(c) employment and support allowance (whether contributory or income-related) under Part 1 of the Welfare Reform Act 2007;
(d) income support under section 124 of the Social Security and Benefits Act 1992;
(e) housing benefit under section 130 of that Act and
(f) child tax credit and working tax credit under the Tax Credits Act 2002.
The benefits referred to in paragraphs (a) to (f) above are—(a) in the case of income-based jobseeker’s allowance and income-related employment support allowance, those benefits as they existed on
This new clause would devolve working age benefits to the Scottish Parliament.
New clause 24—
“Universal credit: powers to vary other elements
‘(1) A function of making regulations to which this section applies, so far as it is exercisable by the Secretary of State in or as regards Scotland, is exercisable by the Scottish Ministers concurrently with the Secretary of State.
(2) This section applies to—
(a) regulations under section 8(3)(a) of the Welfare Reform Act 2012 (amount in respect of earned income) so far relating to the work allowance (that is, the amount of a claimant’s earned income that is to be disregarded in calculating the amounts to be deducted from the maximum amount in accordance with section 8(3) of that Act),
(b) regulations under section 10 of that Act (amount in respect of responsibility for children and young persons),
(c) regulations under section 12 of that Act (amounts in respect of other particular needs or circumstances) so far as relating to—
(i) the needs or circumstances referred to in subsection (2)(c) of that section (caring responsibilities for a severely disabled person), or
(ii) needs or circumstances of a claimant in paid work relating to childcare costs,
(d) regulations under any of sections 14 to 22, 24 and 25 of that Act (work-related requirements), and
(e) regulations under any of sections 26 to 28 of that Act (sanctions).
(3) The Scottish Ministers may not exercise the function of making regulations to which this section applies unless they have consulted the Secretary of State.
(4) The Secretary of State may not exercise the function of making regulations to which this section applies in or as regards Scotland unless he or she has consulted the Scottish Ministers.
(5) Where regulations are made by the Scottish Ministers by virtue of subsection (1)—
(a) section 43 of the Welfare Reform Act 2012 (regulations: procedure) does not apply, and
(b) the regulations are subject to the negative procedure (see Part 2 of the Interpretation and Legislative Reform (Scotland) Act 2010).””
This new clause would give the Scottish Parliament greater flexibility to make changes in Universal Credit.
New clause 25—
“Benefits relating to children
In Section F1 of Part 2 of Schedule 5 to the Scotland Act 1998, in the Exceptions, after exception 10 (see section (Working age benefits) above) insert—
Benefits entitlement to which, or the purposes of which, are the same as or similar to those of any of the following benefits—
(a) guardian’s allowance under section 77 of the Social Security Contributions and Benefits Act 1992;
(b) child benefit under Part 9 of that Act.
The benefits referred to in paragraphs (a) and (b) are those benefits as they existed on
This new clause would devolve benefits relating to children to the Scottish Parliament.
New clause 26—
“Health and safety
‘(1) In Part 2 of Schedule 5 to the Scotland Act 1998 (“the 1998 Act”), omit Section H2 (health and safety).
(2) The Health and Safety Executive is a cross-border public authority for the purposes of the 1998 Act.
(3) The 1998 Act applies in relation to the Health and Safety Executive in the same way as it applies in relation to cross-border public authorities specified in an Order in Council under section 88(5) of the 1998 Act.”
This new clause would devolve health and safety to the Scottish Parliament and designates the Health and Safety Executive as a cross-border public authority.
New clause 27—
“In Part 2 of Schedule 5 to the Scotland Act 1998, omit Section L2 (equal opportunities).”
This new clause would devolve equal opportunities to the Scottish Parliament.
New clause 28—
‘(1) Part 1 of Schedule 5 to the Scotland Act 1998 (general reservations) is amended as follows.
(2) Omit paragraph 2(3)
(3) In paragraph 3(3), omit paragraph (a).
(4) After paragraph 3, insert—
“(3A) Without prejudice to paragraphs 2 and 3, paragraph 1 does not reserve—
(a) removing or altering functions of, or conferring functions on, the Crown Estate Commissioners in relation to the holding or management of property within paragraph 3(1),
(b) where a function of the Crown Estate Commissioners of holding property is so removed, the transfer of any property held in exercise of the function.”
(5) Functions relating to Crown property are, so far as they relate to Crown property in or relating to the Scottish offshore region, to be treated for the purposes of the Scotland Act 1998 as exercisable in or as regards Scotland.
(6) In subsection (5)—
“Crown property” means property within paragraph 3(1) of Part 1 of Schedule 5 to the Scotland Act 1998, “Scottish offshore region” has the same meaning as in the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 (see section 322 of that Act)
(7) In section 1(2) of the Civil List Act 1952 (payment of hereditary revenues into the Scottish Consolidated Fund), omit “from bona vacantia, ultimus haeres and treasure trove”.”
This alternative to clause 31 would reduce the complexity of the current arrangements relating to the Crown Estate by removing the reservation relating to the management of the Crown Estate and provides the Scottish Parliament with full legislative competence in relation to the management of the Crown Estate in or as regards Scotland. It would also transfer any functions of the Crown Estate Commissioners in relation to rights to the continental shelf beyond the 200 nautical mile limit adjacent to Scotland.
New clause 29—
“Party political broadcasts
In Section K1 of Part 2 of Schedule 5 to the Scotland Act 1998 (broadcasting), after the reservation insert—
(a) party political broadcasts in connection with elections that are within the legislative competence of the Parliament, and
(b) referendum campaign broadcasts in connection with referendums held under Acts of the Scottish Parliament.””
New clause 30—
Leave out section K1 in Part 2 of Schedule 5 (Broadcasting) to the 1998 Act.”
New clause 31—
“Levies in respect of agriculture, taking wild game, aquaculture and fisheries etc.
‘(1) In Part 2 of Schedule 5 to the Scotland Act 1998, Section A1 is amended as follows.
(2) In the Exceptions, after the exception for devolved taxes insert—
(3) After the Exceptions insert—
“agriculture” includes horticulture, fruit growing, seed growing, dairy farming and livestock breeding and keeping, and the use of land as grazing land, meadow land, osier land, market gardens and nursery grounds.
“aquaculture” includes the breeding, rearing or cultivation of fish (of any kind), seafood or aquatic organisms.
“related activity” means the production, processing, manufacture, marketing or distribution of—
(a) anything (including any creature alive or dead) produced or taken in the course of agriculture, taking wild game or aquaculture, or caught (by any means) in a fishery,(b) any product which is derived to any substantial extent from anything so produced or caught.””
This new Clause would give the Scottish Parliament general legislative competence in respect of agricultural, aquacultural and fisheries levies.
New clause 32—
In Part 2 of Schedule 5 to the Act, in section E2, after “Exceptions” there is inserted—
This amendment would devolve rail services in Scotland giving Scottish Ministers full powers and flexibility to decide who would run such services.
New clause 33—
‘(1) In Section 1 of the Civil Aviation Act 1982, at end insert—
“(4) The Secretary of State must consult the Scottish Ministers about the strategic priorities of the Secretary of State in exercising functions under subsection (1), and in relation to activities of the Civil Aviation Authority.
(5) In subsection (4), “Scotland” has the same meaning as in the Scotland Act 1998.””
This New Clause would allow a ‘formal consultative role’ for the Scottish Government and the Scottish Parliament in setting the strategic priorities for the Civil Aviation Authority.
New schedule 1—The Joint Committee on Welfare Devolution
1 The Joint Committee on Welfare Devolution is to comprise the Secretary of State, who is to be the chair of the Committee, and the following other members—
(a) the Scottish Minister who is responsible to the Scottish Parliament for welfare policy and payments, who is to be the deputy chair of the Committee;
(b) the Member of the House of Commons who is for the time being the Chair of the Work and Pensions Select Committee of the House of Commons;
(c) the Member of the Scottish Parliament who is for the time being the Chair of the Welfare Reform Committee of the Scottish Parliament;
(e) two Members of the Scottish Parliament who are not Scottish Ministers; and
(f) two persons representing local government in Scotland.
2 The members of the Joint Committee on Welfare Devolution mentioned in paragraph 1(d) are to be appointed to membership of the Committee by the Speaker of the House of Commons.3 The members of the Joint Committee on Welfare Devolution mentioned in paragraph 1 (e) are to be appointed to membership of the Committee by the Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament.4 The members of the Joint Committee on Welfare Devolution mentioned in paragraph 1(f) are to be appointed to membership of the Committee by Scottish Ministers after consultation with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities.5 In this Schedule, references to the Work and Pensions Select Committee of the House of Commons are—
(a) if the name of that Committee is changed, to be taken (subject to paragraph (b)) to be references to the Committee by its new name;
(b) if the functions of that Committee at the passing of this Act with respect to welfare policy and payments (or functions substantially corresponding thereto) become functions of a different committee of the House of Commons, to be taken to be references to the committee by whom the functions are for the time being exercisable.
6 In this Schedule, references to the Welfare Reform Committee of the Scottish Parliament are—
(a) if the name of that Committee is changed, to be taken (subject to paragraph (b)) to be references to the Committee by its new name;
(b) if the functions of that Committee at the passing of this Act with respect to welfare policy and payments (or functions substantially corresponding thereto) become functions of a different committee of the Scottish Parliament, to be taken to be references to the committee by whom the functions are for the time being exercisable.
Term of office of Committee members
7 A member may resign from the Committee at any time by giving notice to the Secretary of State.8 A member may be re-appointed (or further re-appointed) to membership of the Committee.
9 The Joint Committee on Welfare Reform may determine its own procedure.10 The validity of any proceedings of the Joint Committee on Welfare Reform is not affected by—
(a) any vacancy among, or
(b) any defect in the appointment of any of, the members of the Committee.
11 The Joint Committee on Welfare Reform may appoint a member of the Committee to act as chair at any meeting of the Committee in the absence of both the Secretary of State and the Scottish Minster who is deputy chair of the Committee.
12 The Secretary of State and Scottish Ministers acting jointly may make regulations appointing an advisory panel on the transfer, implementation and operation of the powers devolved to the Scottish Parliament by Part 3 of this Act, comprising academics, representatives of the third sector and voluntary organisations, and other relevant stakeholders.13 The Joint Committee on Welfare Reform must consult any advisory panel appointed under paragraph 12 of this Schedule.
This new Schedule is linked to New Clause NC3 (Joint Committee on Welfare Reform) and makes provision about membership and proceedings of the Joint Committee, including the appointment of an advisory panel including third sector and academic experts.
Amendment 194, page 21, line 39 [Clause 19], leave out from “of” to end of line 7 on page 22 and insert “a disabled person or person with a physical or mental impairment or health condition in respect of effects or needs arising from that disability, impairment or health condition.”
Government amendments 70, 71, 72, 73, 191 and192
Amendment 21, in clause 21, page 24, leave out lines 13 to 20
This amendment would allow the Scottish Parliament to legislate for topping up reserved benefits by providing financial assistance in any case where the requirement for it arises from reduction, non-payability or suspension of a reserved benefit as a result of an individual’s conduct.
Amendment 159, in clause 22, page 24, leave out lines 36 to 48.
This amendment would remove some of the restrictions, including those relating to sanctions, in relation to discretionary housing payments.
Government amendments 76
Amendment 22, in clause 22, page 25, leave out lines 1 to 8
This amendment would allow the Scottish Parliament to legislate for making discretionary housing payments by providing financial assistance in any case where the requirement for it arises from reduction, non-payability or suspension of a reserved benefit as a result of an individual’s conduct.
Amendment 23, in clause 23, page 25, leave out lines 30 to 37
This amendment would allow the Scottish Parliament to legislate for making discretionary payments to meet short-term needs by providing financial assistance in any case where the requirement for it arises from reduction, non-payability or suspension of a reserved benefit as a result of an individual’s conduct.
Amendment 161, in clause 23, page 25, line 40 [Clause 23], after “individuals”, insert “—
Amendment 162, in clause 23, page 25, line 45, at end add “, or (b) who are part of a family facing exceptional pressure.”
Amendment 163, in clause 24, page 26, line 20, leave out from “unless” to end of line 25 and insert “they have consulted the Secretary of State”
This amendment would remove the requirement for the Scottish Government to obtain consent from a UK Secretary of State in relation to Universal Credit and the costs of claimants who rent accommodation.
Government amendments 77
Amendment 24, in clause 24, page 26, line 25, leave out “unreasonably”
This amendment would make it clear that the UK Government cannot withhold agreement and will have a legal obligation to agree to any changes to regulations made by the Scottish Government using the new regulation-making powers conferred under clause 24.
Amendment 32, in clause 24, page 26, line 35, leave out “negative procedure (see section 28” and insert “affirmative procedure (see section 29”
This amendment would require regulations made by Scottish Ministers under subsection (1) of Clause 24 (Universal credit: costs of claimants who rent accommodation) to be subject to the Scottish Parliament’s affirmative procedure.
Amendment 164, in clause 25, page 26, line 45, leave out from “unless” to end of line 5 on page 27 and insert “they have consulted the Secretary of State”
This amendment would remove the requirement for the Scottish Government to obtain consent from a UK Secretary of State in relation to persons to who, and time when, Universal Credit is paid.
Government amendments 78
Amendment 25, in clause 25, page 27, line 5, leave out “unreasonably”
This amendment would make it clear that the UK Government cannot withhold agreement and will have a legal obligation to agree to any changes to regulations made by the Scottish Government using the new regulation-making powers conferred under clause 25.
Amendment 33, in clause 25, page 27, line 13, leave out “negative procedure (see section 28” and insert “affirmative procedure (see section 29”
This amendment would require regulations made by Scottish Ministers under subsection (1) of Clause 25 (Universal credit: person to whom, and time when, paid) to be subject to the Scottish Parliament’s affirmative procedure.
Amendment 165, in clause 26, page 27, line 22, leave out from beginning to “for” in line 23 and insert “Arrangements”
Amendments 165, 166 and 167 make provision for the Scottish Parliament to have power to legislate on arrangements for employment support programmes.
Amendment 166, in clause 26, page 27, leave out lines 27 to 29 and insert— assisting persons (including persons claiming reserved benefits) who are unemployed or at risk of long-term unemployment to select, obtain and retain employment;”
Amendments 165, 166 and 167 make provision for the Scottish Parliament to have power to legislate on arrangements for employment support programmes
Amendment 167, in clause 26, page 27, line 34, leave out “another person” and insert “a person other than the person making the arrangements”
Amendments 165, 166 and 167 make provision for the Scottish Parliament to have power to legislate on arrangements for employment support programmes.
Government amendments 79, 80, 82, 193 and 83
Amendment 168, page 30, line 30, leave out Clause 31.
Amendment 11, in clause 31, page 30, line 34, leave out “may” and insert “must following agreement with the Scottish Government”
Government amendments 84, 85, 86, 87, 88 and 89
Amendment 12, in clause 31, page 32, line 25, leave out “C” and insert “A”
Amendment 13, in clause 31, page 32, line 31, leave out “then, instead of the type C procedure”
Amendment 14, in clause 31, page 32, line 31, leave out “I” and insert “A”
Government amendments 90 to 96
Amendment 169, in clause 32, page 33, line 44, leave out subsection (2)
This amendment delivers a more explicit reference to the devolution of competence over gender quotas in respect of public bodies in Scotland but ensures that it is “not limited to” gender quotas, as agreed in the Smith Commission report.
Amendment 225, in clause 32, page 34, line 2, leave out subsection (3) and insert—
‘(3) Under the heading “Exceptions”, at end insert—
(none) Equal opportunities in relation to the Scottish functions of any Scottish public authority or cross-border public authority including appointments to the board of any Scottish public authority. The provision falling within this exception includes provision that reproduces or applies an enactment contained in the Equality Act 2006 or the Equality Act 2010, with or without modification, without affecting the enactment as it applies for the purposes of those Acts. It does not include any modification of those Acts, other than modifications of the types specified in paragraphs (a) to (d)
(a) provision that supplements or is otherwise additional to provision made by those Acts, and which may enhance but may not diminish the protection and promotion of equal opportunities afforded by the provision made by those Acts;
(b) in particular, provision imposing a requirement to take action that the Acts do not prohibit;
(c) provision that extends application of the existing powers and duties of, or grants additional powers to, the Commission for Equality and Human Rights in respect of provisions made under any part of subsection (3)
(d) provision that requires the Commission for Equality and Human Rights to attend the proceedings of the Scottish Parliament for the purposes of giving evidence and to send each annual report of the Commission to the Scottish Ministers and that requires the Scottish Ministers to lay each annual report received before the Scottish Parliament.”
This amendment makes provision for the Scottish Parliament to have legislative competence in respect of the public sector equality duty, and in respect of equality of opportunity in relation to the functions of Scottish and cross-border public authorities, including appointments to public boards. It clarifies that the Scottish Parliament’s power to make modifications to the Equality Acts 2006 and 2010 is limited to making provision that enhances the protection and promotion of equal opportunities. The amendment makes provision for the powers of the Equality and Human Rights Commission to be applied in relation to any modifications to the Acts. It also enables provision to be made to increase the accountability of the Equality and Human Rights Commission to the Scottish Parliament.
Government amendments 97 and 98
Amendment 171, in clause 32, page 34, line 4, at end insert—
Government amendments 100 and 99
Amendment 26, in clause 32, page 34, line 13, at end insert “including the imposition of minimum quotas for women and other persons with protected characteristics across all levels of public and political representation in Scotland.”
This Amendment is intended to make explicit that, among the exceptions to reserved matters on equal opportunities, the power is being devolved to the Scottish Parliament to set gender quotas.
Amendment 157, in clause 32, page 34, line 16, at end insert—
“(d) equal opportunity provisions in relation to candidates at an election for membership of the Scottish Parliament and a local government election in Scotland.”
This would allow the necessary competence for gender quotas in relation to the Scottish Parliament and local government to be transferred to the Scottish Parliament.
Government amendment 101
Amendment 172, in clause 32, page 34, line 18, leave out “the Equality Act 2010 and Part 1 of that Act” and insert “and the Equality Act 2010”
Government amendment 102
Amendment 173, in clause 32, page 34, line 25, leave out subsection (6) and insert—
‘( ) In section 2 (power to amend section1)—
(a) in subsection (7), omit “the Scottish Ministers or”,
(b) in subsection (10), before “Ministers” insert “Welsh””
Government amendment 103
Amendment 174, in clause 32, page 34, line 37, leave out subsection (9) and insert—
‘( ) In section 216 (commencement) at the beginning of subsection (3) insert “Subject to subsection (4),” and after that subsection insert—
(4) Part 1 comes into force on such day as the Scottish Ministers may by order appoint so far as it—
(a) confers a power on the Scottish Ministers
(b) relates to a public authority in respect of which such a power is exercisable.
(5) The following do not apply to an order under subsection (4)—
(a) section 207(2) (see instead section 27 of the Interpretation and Legislative Reform (Scotland) Act 2010: powers exercisable by Scottish statutory instrument), and
(b) section 210.””
Government amendment 104
Amendment 175, in clause 32, page 35, line 2, leave out subsection (10)
Government amendment 105
Amendment 15, in clause 33, page 35, leave out lines 18 and 19
Amendment 16, in clause 33, page 35, leave out lines 24 and 25
Amendment 176, in clause 33, page 35, leave out lines 26 to 30 and insert—
‘(nonenone) “This Schedule does not reserve the transfer of all the functions of a tribunal referred to in sub-paragraph (2) to a Scottish tribunal, so far as the functions are exercisable in relation to Scottish cases or a specified category of Scottish cases, in accordance with provision made by Her Majesty by Order in Council.”
This amendment would ensure that all functions exercisable in relation to Scottish cases or a specified category of Scottish cases should transfer to the Scottish Parliament.
Amendment 17, in clause 33, page 35, leave out lines 26 to 30
Amendment 177, in clause 33, page 35, leave out from beginning of line 31 to end of line 7 on page 36
Amendment 178, in clause 33, page 36, line 22, at end insert—
‘( ) For the avoidance of doubt, this Schedule does not reserve—
(a) a Scottish tribunal’s practice and procedure when exercising functions that have been transferred to it by virtue of this paragraph, or
(b) the fees and expenses chargeable for, or in connection with, proceedings before a Scottish tribunal when it is exercising those functions.”
This amendment makes clear that competence over a tribunal’s practice, rules of procedure and fees in relation to transferred cases becomes devolved, as per the Smith Commission recommendation.
Amendment 179, in clause 34, page 37, line 28, leave out from “relating” to “to” in line 29
This amendment would remove a restriction on the full devolution of speed limits in relation to emergency vehicles.
Amendment 180, in clause 36, page 41, line 15, leave out paragraph (a) and insert—
“(a) in relation to vehicles used on roads in Scotland, means the Scottish Ministers.”
Amendment 181, in clause 36, page 41, line 19, at end insert—
‘(18) In section 130 (application of Act to Crown)—
(a) in subsection (3) for “Secretary of State” substitute “relevant authority”, and
(b) after that subsection insert—
(3A) In subsection (3) “relevant authority”—
(a) in relation to vehicles used on roads in Scotland, means the Scottish Ministers,
(b) otherwise, means the Secretary of State.”
This amendment would amend section 130(3) of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 so that Scottish Ministers are added into the provision as the relevant “national authority”.
Government amendments 106 to 128
Amendment 182, in clause 45, page 47, leave out lines 4 to 8, and insert—
The number of relevant gaming machines authorised (if any) in respect of premises licences under the Gambling Act 2005.
A “relevant gaming machine” is a gaming machine (within the meaning of section 235 of the Gambling Act 2005) for which the maximum charge for use is more than £10.”
This amendment replaces the reference to betting premises with a more general reference to gambling premises, giving full effect to Smith Commission recommendation 74.
Amendment 18, in clause 45, page 47, line 7 , leave out “for which the maximum charge for use is more than £10”
Amendment 1, in clause 45, page 47, line 7, leave out “£10” and insert “£2”
Amendment 183, in clause 45, page 47, leave out lines 13 to 20 and insert—
“(a) the Scottish Ministers in respect of premises in Scotland in so far as the order varies the number of gaming machines authorised (if any) for which the maximum charge for use is more than £10, or
(b) otherwise, the Secretary of State.”
This amendment replaces the reference to betting premises with a more general reference to gambling premises, giving full effect to Smith Commission recommendation 74.
Amendment 19, in clause 45, page 47, line 17, leave out “for which the maximum charge for use is more than £10”
Amendment 2, in clause 45, page 47, line 18, leave out “£10” and insert “£2”
Amendment 3, in clause 45, page 47, line 18, after “£10”, insert—
‘( ) the content and the speed of play,”
Amendment 4, in clause 45, page 47, line 18, after “£10”, insert—
‘( ) the number of staff required to supervise such machines,”
Amendment 20, in clause 45, page 47, line 35, leave out subsection (6)
Government amendments 137 to 139
Amendment 184, in clause 50, page 49, leave out from line 32 to line 50 on page 50 and insert—
‘(4) The Scottish Ministers may not make regulations under section 9 unless they have consulted the Secretary of State about the proposed regulations.
(5) Subsection (1) does not prevent the Secretary of State making a support scheme in relation to Scotland under section 9, or varying or revoking regulations made by the Scottish Ministers under that section with the agreement of the Scottish Ministers.”
Government amendments 140 to 143
Amendment 185, in clause 51, page 52, line 9, leave out from beginning to end of line 6 on page 53 and insert—
‘(4) The power of the Scottish Ministers under section 33BC does not include power to make provision in relation to the subject matter of sections 88 to 90 of the Energy Act 2008 (smart meters).
(5) The Scottish Ministers may not make an order under section 33BC unless they have consulted the Secretary of State about the proposed order.
(6) The power of the Secretary of State to make an order under section 33BC is exercisable so as to make any provision that may be made by the Scottish Ministers under that section, or vary or revoke an order made by the Scottish Ministers under that section, but only with the agreement of the Scottish Ministers.”
Government amendments 144 to 147
Amendment 186, in clause 51, page 53, line 48, leave out from beginning to end of line 40 on page 54 and insert—
‘(5) The Scottish Ministers may not make an order under section 33BD unless they have consulted the Secretary of State about the proposed order.
(6) The power of the Secretary of State to make an order under section 33BD is exercisable so as to make any provision that may be made by the Scottish Ministers under that section, or vary or revoke an order made by the Scottish Ministers under that section, but only with the agreement of the Scottish Ministers.”
Government amendments 148 to 150
Amendment 187, in clause 51, page 55, line 30, leave out from beginning to end of line 24 on page 56 and insert—
‘(5) The Scottish Ministers may not make an order under section 41A unless they have consulted the Secretary of State about the proposed order.
(6) The power of the Secretary of State to make an order under section 41A is exercisable so as to make any provision that may be made by the Scottish Ministers under that section, or vary or revoke an order made by the Scottish Ministers under that section, but only with the agreement of the Scottish Ministers.”
Government amendments 151 to 153
Amendment 188, in clause 51, page 57, line 17, leave out from beginning to line 9 on page 58 and insert—
‘(5) The Scottish Ministers may not make an order under section 41B unless they have consulted the Secretary of State about the proposed order.
(6) The power of the Secretary of State to make an order under section 41B is exercisable so as to make any provision that may be made by the Scottish Ministers under that section, or vary or revoke an order made by the Scottish Ministers under that section, but only with the agreement of the Scottish Ministers.”
Government amendment 154
Amendment 189, in clause 53, page 60, leave out lines 9 to 17.
This amendment removes restrictions on the consultation process with the Scottish Government and Scottish Parliament in relation to renewables incentive schemes.
Amendment 190, in clause 55, page 63, line 17, at end insert—
“() the Scottish Ministers,”
Clause 55 as currently drafted would allow Scottish Ministers to make a reference to the Competition and Markets Authority only in the most exceptional circumstances. This amendment would enable Scottish Ministers to make a reference without the involvement of the Secretary of State.
Government amendments 129 and 133 to 136.
Let me begin by dealing with the specific issue of welfare funds, on which I am accepting an amendment that the SNP tabled in Committee. The Smith commission agreement stated that the devolution of welfare foods should be the subject of further discussion between the UK and Scottish Governments. This has taken place, and I am pleased that new clause 14 and consequential amendments 79, 80, 82 and 83 devolve powers to the Scottish Parliament concerning welfare foods. They will be able to abolish or amend existing schemes, which includes the nursery milk scheme and health start scheme, or make new schemes for the provision of welfare foods.
On welfare more generally, the Government are proposing a number of changes to the welfare clauses, responding to a number of comments made by Members of this House in Committee, as well as the Scottish Parliament and other stakeholders. As a result, it will be beyond doubt that the Scotland Bill fully delivers on the Smith commission agreement and that the Scottish Parliament will have significant responsibilities for areas of welfare. I was pleased to see these changes receiving a full endorsement from Gordon Brown, from the Scottish media, and indeed from all objective observers. The Scottish Government are getting responsibility for disability and carer’s benefits that were worth £2.7 billion in Scotland last year, and they will be able to deliver new benefits in all areas of devolved responsibility if they wish. Amendments 70 and 71 to clause 19 ensure that the Scottish Parliament can, if it wishes, legislate for the payment of a carer’s benefit to a person who is under 16, is in full-time education or is gainfully employed. The Scottish Government will be able to pay anyone on a reserved benefit a top-up payment. That includes being able to top up benefits such as tax credits, child benefit and universal credit.
I have said it on numerous occasions and I am very happy to say it again: the Scotland Bill, as it progresses through the House this evening, will allow the Scottish Parliament to top up tax credits, and indeed child benefit and elements of universal credit. The Scottish Government will be able to pay shorter-term payments to help anyone, regardless of whether or not they are entitled to a reserved benefit, who has an immediate need for them and whose wellbeing is at risk.
I have proposed important changes to the Bill so that the Scottish Parliament can create its own new benefits in any area of devolved responsibility. That will be achieved by new clause 34 and amendments 191 to 193. The Scottish Parliament will be able to do this without any need to consult the UK Government. This power is significant: the Scottish Parliament will no longer be able to say that it is constrained by Westminster in deciding what it does, and it will be able to choose what additional benefits to offer people in Scotland.
I must, however, make very clear a few important points about the new power that the Scottish Parliament will get to create new benefits in devolved areas. Any new benefits that the Scottish Government want to deliver will be in parallel to the benefits that are delivered by the UK Government. The new power does not affect Westminster’s ability to legislate for and to deliver support, and it does not enable the Scottish Parliament to change or amend reserved Westminster legislation in any way. The Scottish Parliament will need to both fund and deliver any new benefits from Scottish funds.
The House will be aware that we have also delivered on other areas of Smith in full. Scottish Ministers will be able to make regulations for certain elements of universal credit, such as the frequency of payments and to whom they are paid.
I do not know whether the hon. Lady is familiar with the income tax provisions in the Bill, but the Scottish Parliament will have complete control over income tax in Scotland. If it is concerned that people in work are not receiving sufficient income, it will be able to adjust those tax rates. The hon. Lady knows that tax credits are not being devolved, but she also knows that they can be topped up. She and her party have been particularly unwilling to say whether or not they propose to top up those benefits.
Several hon. Members rose—
No, I will not give way.
SNP Members will have a whole range of benefits, but rather than put any thought into how to evolve a welfare system in Scotland, they are taking the usual SNP position—focus, focus, focus on what we cannot do, rather than telling anybody in Scotland what we can do.
No. I have dealt with that issue.
There was much debate in Committee on the universal credit powers. There were many inaccurate accusations that the UK Government would have a power to veto decisions of the Scottish Government. To put this beyond reasonable doubt, I have tabled amendments to clauses 24 and 25 to make it clear that there is no UK veto over decisions that the Scottish Government make in this space. Amendments 77 and 78 will strengthen the drafting of those provisions. The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions will remain legally responsible for the delivery of universal credit, but both Governments will need to work collaboratively to consider any such changes to the elements of universal credit. That is at the heart of clauses 24 and 25, and I know that our officials have already had very constructive discussions with the Scottish Government on this subject. To ensure that the record is crystal clear, let me say that there are no UK Government vetoes anywhere in these welfare and employment clauses.
I would like to emphasise that we have listened to the Scottish Government and to the debate in the House. For example, amendment 72, which enables the Scottish Government to provide non-financial assistance for maternity, funeral and heating expenses, reflects an amendment the SNP tabled in Committee. After full consideration, the Government are happy to make this change. Amendments 73, 76, 191 and 192 also relate to that provision.
All in all, this settlement fully reflects the agreement reached by the Smith commission. It ensures that the areas that the agreement said should remain reserved—pensions, universal credit, sanctions and conditionality, and employment support delivered by Jobcentre Plus—remain the responsibility of the UK Government, but, importantly, it gives the Scottish Parliament full responsibility for many areas of welfare. The Scottish Parliament will have the autonomy to legislate for large areas of welfare, and I look forward to the beginning of the debate on how it intends to use those powers.
The Smith commission agreement also recommended the devolution of abortion legislation, given that the parties to the agreement were strongly of the view that the anomalous reservation needed to be corrected. As I announced last month, UK and Scottish Ministers and officials have held discussions on the matter and reflected very carefully about the practicalities of devolution in this area.
I am grateful to the Secretary of State for accepting a lot of the Labour amendments, and indeed some SNP amendments tabled in Committee. He said quite clearly in Committee back in July that he would not devolve abortion without a proper process and full consultation and discussion with Scottish women’s groups. What has made him change his mind?
I do not think that that is an accurate reflection of what I said. I made it very clear that the Smith commission had recommended the devolution of abortion and that we were engaged in a discussion with the Scottish Government. We have of course engaged with women’s groups in Scotland. The groups to whom I have spoken are clear that abortion can be devolved.
Not just at the moment, if the hon. Lady will let me finish.
Those groups are clear that the Scottish Parliament has the capacity to deal with the issue of abortion, but they want its devolution to be handled sensitively. I think that we are in the process of doing that. The First Minister of Scotland has made it very clear that she has no plans to change the existing arrangements in relation to abortion. Ian Murray will know that devolving abortion to the Scottish Parliament will not simply lead to a change in the law in Scotland; that will happen only if the Scottish Parliament makes such a decision.
The Secretary of State will know that it is not in the gift of any one Minister to make such a decision. He is actually proposing a very substantial change to the framework of abortion legislation. In fact, he has done no proper, substantial consultation. We will have just a few minutes in the House to discuss something that is so substantial and such a big change to the Abortion Act 1967. Does he really think that a few minutes’ discussion now, and the limited conversations between Scotland Office and Scottish Government officials, is the right way to do this?
My starting point is that I believe that the Scottish Parliament has the capacity to deal with this issue. It is in danger of verging on the patronising to suggest that the Scottish Parliament is not capable of dealing with it. Even though it is an issue of great importance and conscience, I am satisfied that the Scottish Parliament has the capacity to deal with it.
Does the Minister agree that it is extraordinary that, despite all three main parties in Scotland being led by women and the Scottish Parliament having brought in some of the most progressive legislation on equal marriage in the world, the Labour party apparently still feels that Scotland’s people need male-dominated Westminster to protect women’s rights?
Does the Secretary of State not realise that he is setting up two different systems, one for Scotland and one for England and Wales, when we know from other parts of the world that that leads to women having to travel for abortions at a vulnerable time? That issue of principle—deciding whether it is right for people to have to travel—is important. I hope that many of our Scottish colleagues will agree with us about the importance of the 1967 Act. I know that there is strong agreement from the First Minister. However, there is an issue of principle in whether we think it is right to increase the likelihood of women having to travel at a vulnerable time. Does he think it is right to do that without proper consultation with women across not just Scotland, but England—
Order. The right hon. Lady is hoping to catch my eye. I want to hear her speech then, rather than now. Shorter interventions would be very helpful.
I do not think that there is any evidence to suggest that what the right hon. Lady describes will be the case. There is considerable evidence that, over the past 16 years, the Scottish Parliament has dealt with sensitive matters in an appropriate way.
I can confirm that that is absolutely not the case. The Smith commission report makes it clear that devolution of abortion law should take place and that the reservation in the 1998 Act was anomalous in comparison with the health and criminal justice devolution that took place. The commission recognised, and I recognise, that this is a matter that must be dealt with sensitively. That is why there have been discussions with the Scottish Government, why the First Minister of Scotland has made her position on the issue clear and why Scotland’s Health Minister will meet shortly with women’s groups and interested parties in Scotland as the devolution of abortion progresses.
As was made clear in Committee, the Scottish Government have made it clear in no uncertain terms that there are no planned changes to the legislation. On that basis, does the Secretary of State agree that Labour Members undermine their colleagues in the Scottish Parliament by intimating that they cannot legislate on their own matters?
I am sure that the hon. Lady and other Members will have heard me say that I am absolutely satisfied that the Scottish Parliament has the capacity to deal with this issue. Although tonight and on other occasions there have been significant differences between us on what should and should not be devolved to the Scottish Parliament, the basis of my arguments has never been a belief that the Scottish Parliament is not capable of dealing with particular sensitive or difficult issues; it is just that I feel that the balance of responsibilities in the devolution settlement is better served in a different way. I genuinely believe that the balance of the devolution settlement is best served by abortion being devolved, which is consistent with the health and criminal justice devolution in the wider settlement.
The Smith commission did not say that abortion should be devolved now, but that a procedure should be put in place in order that it could be considered. Before we make this decision tonight, will the Secretary of State explain what procedure has been put in place and what consultation there has been?
If the hon. Lady looks at the Smith commission report, she will see that it does not say that the devolution of abortion law is in question or should be consulted on. What is to be consulted on is the process of that devolution, and it will be. The UK Government are committed to that approach and I have assured women’s groups in Scotland that I am committed to it. I know that the Scottish Government are committed to that approach, too. The First Minister could not have made her position clearer.
This issue is about the constitutional balance between the United Kingdom and Scotland, and about where this decision is most appropriately taken. The Smith commission came to the clear conclusion that it appropriately lay with the Scottish Parliament. This measure is being taken forward in a measured way. It is almost a year since the Smith commission reported. There will be no change to the legal position on abortion in Scotland simply by this act of devolution.
I agree with the Secretary of State that it is right that we trust the Scottish Parliament on this important issue. It has shown itself to be progressive on issues such as same-sex marriage and has important legislative powers on health and the judicial system, so I urge him to carry on with this measure and ensure that the Scottish Parliament is given the accountability it needs.
I think I have made it clear that simply devolving the power does not mean that there will be a change to the position under the 1967 Act. I am sure we will hear views on that, and we will of course listen to them.
That is not the nature of this debate. We are debating whether the Scottish Parliament should have responsibility on this issue, and I believe that it has the capacity to make decisions in an informed way. It is becoming offensive to suggest otherwise. When we debate other responsibilities for the Scottish Parliament, we do not do so based on its capacity or the idea that it might fall under undue influence and make the wrong decision.
I think I have made the position clear, but I restate that we will continue to work closely with women’s groups and other interested parties to ensure that the devolution of abortion law is as smooth as possible. As I have repeatedly said, there will be no change simply because of devolution, because the Scottish Government and the First Minister have stated that they do not intend to change the existing provisions.
Several hon. Members rose—
I am afraid I am going to move on to discuss the Crown Estate, another important issue that has been much debated in the context of devolution. Clause 31 allows for the Crown Estate’s Scottish assets to be managed by the Scottish Government, and states that they should receive the revenue from the management of those assets.
Clause 31(1) actually begins, “The Treasury may make”, which is hardly a ringing endorsement of the commitment to devolve that matter. It may as well say, “Maybe aye, maybe no”.
Obviously I do not accept that analysis. The Crown Estate transfer scheme and the memorandum between both Governments have been published and are in the House Library, and copies are available in the Vote Office. I see that the Scottish Government have already come back with their comments on the proposals. The clause clearly means that the Scottish Parliament will have the competence to legislate for the management of the Scottish assets, and to further devolve powers to local authorities and communities should it wish. I hope that, in accordance with the provisions that Lord Smith set out in the agreement, it will do so.
The clause also provides for the protections envisaged by the Smith commission to ensure that the transfer is not detrimental to defence or other UK-wide critical national infrastructure. Amendments 84 to 95 strengthen the delivery of the Smith commission recommendation and the drafting of the clause. They make clear the policy intent of the clause, including the protection to be included in the transfer scheme relating to electricity charges and the obligation to maintain an estate in land, with the proceeds from any disposal having to be reinvested in the estate.
I have also tabled a number of amendments on equal opportunities. Having engaged with stakeholders and the Scottish Government on the equal opportunities provisions and having reflected on the debates in Committee, we have responded to representations that have been made on how clause 32 might be made clearer. New clause 16 and the consequential amendments 102 to 104 and 97 confirm that Scottish Ministers may, by order, commence and implement part 1 of the Equality Act 2010 in Scotland. That provides for the devolution of socioeconomic rights to the Scottish Parliament.
Amendments 96 and 98 to 101 to clause 32 similarly represent a revised and improved drafting approach. They strengthen the clause on appointments to the boards of public bodies that exercise devolved functions in Scotland, and they make clear that the Scottish Parliament could legislate to introduce protections, requirements and positive measures—including gender quotas—for such appointments to boards of public sector bodies. Amendment 105 to clause 33 is intended to make the purpose, effect and operation of the tribunals provision clearer. It removes ambiguity from the drafting, and more clearly sets out the mechanism by which the management and operation of reserved tribunals will be devolved to the Scottish Parliament.
New clause 17 and consequential amendments 134 and 135 will allow the UK Government to change primary and secondary legislation so that fines, forfeitures and fixed penalties imposed by courts and tribunals in Scotland are required to be paid to the Scottish consolidated fund, and therefore retained by the Scottish Government. That delivers the Smith commission agreement.
The Bill devolves to the Scottish Parliament legislative and executive competence relating to national speed limits and traffic signs in Scotland. Minor and technical amendments 106 and 136 are required to correct the drafting in clause 37 and schedule 2, and do not impact on powers devolved in that area. Amendment 107 to clause 37 ensures that the Scottish Government are able to use the Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2016 once they come into effect.
The Smith commission agreed that the licensing of onshore oil and gas licences in Scotland should be devolved to the Scottish Parliament. Amendments 111 to 113 and 108 improve the intended functioning of the oil and gas clauses that are to bring about a transfer of legislative competence. Amendment 109 ensures that the competence of the Scottish Parliament over given licences in the Scottish onshore area is not affected by geological processes on the coastline. Amendment 110 clarifies the extent of petroleum access powers that are being devolved in relation to land access for the purposes of searching and boring for petroleum under a licence. Amendment 114 allows existing cross-border licences to be split so that Scottish Ministers are granted administration of all licensed acreage in the Scottish onshore area.
Clause 43 devolves power to the Scottish Parliament over the provision of consumer advocacy and advice in Scotland. Amendments 115 to 128 correct minor and technical errors in the clause and clarify the drafting of the provision that relates to the levy on gas and electricity companies and the postal sector, to fund relevant consumer advocacy. That levy will continue to be raised across the UK, and funds will continue to be apportioned to Scotland.
Amendments 137 to 142 to clause 50 will enable Scottish Ministers to design and implement schemes for reducing fuel poverty in Scotland by imposing obligations on energy providers. The amendments transfer an additional power to Scottish Ministers so that they can set out in regulations the rules for determining the value of any benefit provided under a Scottish fuel poverty scheme, and set different benefit amounts for different categories of eligible consumers. The amendments also remove duplicate requirements on Scottish Ministers, and clarify that the Secretary of State can continue to exercise powers that are not transferred to Scottish Minsters.
Amendments 143 to 154 to clause 51 take into account the debate in Committee. They seek to ensure that costs are clear and equitable, by placing a duty on Scottish Ministers to design the Scottish energy company obligation in a way that should keep the costs of the obligations in Scotland within the share of any carbon emission reduction or home-heating cost reduction target apportioned to Scotland. Technical amendments 129 and 133 are needed to ensure that the member appointed to the Ofcom board by Scottish Ministers has the same functions and responsibilities as other board members.
In conclusion, I am confident that the amendments I am proposing will be seen by objective observers as positive drafting changes that will strengthen the provisions and make clear that the Bill fully delivers the Smith commission agreement in words and in spirit.
I rise to speak to the amendments tabled by my hon. Friends and I, and I am just sorry that we do not have more time to debate them more fully this evening. Like the Secretary of State, I have a sense of déjà vu, because many of the amendments tabled today are very similar to those we debated in Committee. So far, the Government have accepted only one Opposition amendment to the Bill, but we have at last seen Government amendments being tabled in the last few days that will take us a wee bit closer to what was originally pledged.
I welcome the Government’s tacit admission that the Bill as it stood failed to meet the letter or the spirit of the Smith recommendations. I welcome many of the belated amendments, including the lead new clause and the amendment on abortion that we debated earlier, because they address some of the Bill’s most obvious shortcomings. However, the SNP’s amendments in this group—there are more than quite a few of them—seek to equip the Scottish Parliament with the powers it needs to build a fairer society, strengthen employment prospects, improve governance and create a better future for our people.
No issue encapsulates why we need home rule better than that of tax credits. That is why we have tabled new clause 18, which would amend schedule 5 to the Scotland Act 1998 to devolve to the Scottish Parliament the power to make provision for child tax credit and working tax credit—
Perhaps a bit later.
I intend to test the will of the House on the new clause later. More than any other in recent times, the issue of tax credits highlights the contrast between a UK Government who are willing to put low-income families with children on the frontline in their ideological war of austerity and a Scottish Government determined to tackle inequality and to give those children a decent start in life.
I am glad that the hon. Gentleman has asked that question so early. Had he been listening to events in the Scottish Parliament last week he would know that Nicola Sturgeon has made clear commitments to mitigate the impact—
Let me answer this question.
Nicola Sturgeon has made a clear commitment to mitigate the impact of the tax credit changes, but—like the Prime Minister—she is in the dark about the exact proposals. George seems to be still writing them on the back of an envelope. We are clear that it will not be possible to quantify them for two and a half weeks yet.
I will not give way at the moment as I want to make some progress, but I will come back to this and take more interventions.
The changes announced by the Chancellor have the power to cut the incomes of 4.5 million families across the UK. The SNP has been resolute and consistent in its opposition to those cuts. I wish the same could be said of other parties in this House.
I thank the hon. Lady for her sorority in giving way. The Scottish Government have accepted that the Bill gives them the power to restore the money lost from the Tories’ tax credit cuts. Will she commit the Scottish Government to restoring in full the money lost from tax credit cuts?
The hon. Lady really needs to stop reading her briefing sheet and listen to the debate. It is simply wrong to ask those in the lowest paid jobs, bringing up their children on very tight budgets, to pay the lion’s share of the price for the economic failures of successive UK Governments.
As the UK Government’s tax credit proposals stand, 250,000 working households in Scotland will lose on average £1,500 a year each from April. In the longer term, once all the tax credit changes have been fully implemented—including the restrictions under the two-child policy—many of those families will lose up to £3,000 a year each. That is not pocket money: it represents an enormous proportion of household income and will cause real deprivation and hardship.
I am delighted that the hon. Lady has given way, but she did not quite answer the question put to her by my hon. Friend Melanie Onn. Is the hon. Lady committing tonight to restore all the losses from the pernicious tax credit cuts by this Tory Government? Her party voted against that in the Scottish Parliament last week.
I really wish that the shadow Secretary of State had voted against the tax credit proposals when they came before this House on
For low-paid working families, tax credits are an essential source of income. They put food on the table and shoes on the feet of children. They heat homes during winter. By the end of this Parliament, the Government’s proposed tax credit cuts would take £3.2 billion out of the Scottish economy from the pockets of the poorest families. That will undermine economic recovery. The austerity measures already enacted are set to push 100,000 more children in Scotland into poverty by 2020. Under the tax credit measures, 350,000 Scottish youngsters are set to lose out further. No wonder the Tories have abandoned any attempt at measuring child poverty.
There is a broad consensus in Scotland that cutting tax credits is the wrong thing to do. Even the leader of the Tory party in Scotland has called for a rethink and said that it is wrong for low-paid workers to lose out. It is recognised that the proposals will disincentivise work, hit children who are already disadvantaged and punish those in lower paid jobs.
The House of Lords put a proper spanner in the works of the proposals the other week, when it forced the Government back to the drawing board on their tax credit plans. Like millions of families across the UK who are facing uncertainty, we are all in a degree of limbo at the moment. We will have to wait until the autumn statement to learn what the Government intend to bring forward to make their plans more palatable to their own Back Benchers, who seem rather thin on the ground tonight.
We in the SNP have been very consistent in our opposition to tax credit changes. We have made the case at every single opportunity for alternatives to regressive austerity cuts. We will continue to fight tax credits tooth and nail in this House to force the Government into a climbdown. I hope we can rely on the support of other Opposition parties to stand firm, too. Labour abstained on
Is my hon. Friend aware that in Committee the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions refused to give a guarantee that, if the Scottish Government did top up benefits, especially tax credits, that money would not be taken away as if it was extra earned income?
My hon. Friend makes a critical point. We have not had clarity from the Government that they will not means-test the top-ups. I am looking forward to clarification from the Secretary of State for Scotland tonight. [Interruption.] I am glad he is nodding and confirming that that is the case.
About 80,000 families in Scotland are going to lose entitlement altogether under the existing proposals. That is roughly the same number as were affected by the bedroom tax in Scotland. The Scottish Parliament may have the power to create a new benefit, but that seems an inordinately complex way to go about things. It is theoretically possible but, like the bedroom tax mitigation, the money would have to be found from other devolved budgets. It would be an admission from the Government that their proposals have not worked.
As I have said, Nicola Sturgeon has made it absolutely clear that she will bring forward proposals. Labour Members need to be clear tonight: will they back our new clause 18? Will they once again cosy up with the Tories, or will they sit on their hands in the face of crushing austerity cuts coming down the line?
Several hon. Members rose—
I am very conscious of time and I need to move on.
The bottom line is that we would rather not be at the mercy of the UK Government. I would rather that had the powers in Scotland not simply to mitigate the worst side effects of Tory policies, but to develop better alternatives.
With the very limited welfare powers in the Bill, the Scottish Government have already made a range of commitments about how they will use them and develop ways forward. They have committed to ensuring that carer’s allowance matches jobseeker’s allowance; to abolishing the bedroom tax; to replacing the Work programme, which is just not working; and to using the flexibilities in universal credit to offer people more choice about how they manage the money, and they have consulted more than 70 stakeholders about how the new powers can best be used in the interests of our people.
Our new clause 19 would devolve control over employment rights and industrial relations, including trade union law—another area where the Bill falls far short of the Smith commission recommendations. Once again, the new clause is extremely topical, given that tomorrow we will conclude our consideration of the Trade Union Bill. Last week, I met trade union members from my constituency who left me in no doubt about the harm the Bill could do to industrial relations in Scotland and throughout the UK. By contrast, the new clause would allow the Scottish Government to take a different approach and maintain the benefits of the largely stable and constructive relations we have in Scotland.
Will my hon. Friend confirm that Scotland’s workers’ parliament, the STUC general council, supports the devolution of employment law and industrial relations? One reason for that is so that we can do more work with the Scottish fair work convention and stop the scandalous situation of 46,540 cases of unfair treatment in the workplace?
My hon. Friend makes a pertinent and important point. In calling for the transfer of powers of employment law, health and safety, trade union law and the minimum wage, the STUC has noted the appetite in Scotland for reducing income inequality and the desire to forge a more positive relationship with trade unions.
I will not give way because I am conscious of time and we have a lot of amendments to get through.
It is inevitable that Governments will face tough negotiations with employee representatives from time to time, and there will sometimes be disagreements, but we should not lose sight of the enormously beneficial role that trade unions have played in the past and the present day in encouraging fair work and wages, good employment practices and improved working environments.
The hon. Gentleman should address that question to the STUC, because it is the one calling for the devolution of these powers.
I will not because I just gave way.
The Scottish Government see trade unions as key social partners and an important part of civil society. It is not okay for the UK Government to restrict trade unions’ ability to represent their members effectively, so I will oppose the Bill tomorrow, but we also need those powers devolved. Tonight, we have an opportunity to do that.
I have tabled several new clauses and amendments on employment and social security, not all of which I have adequate time to talk about fully tonight, but our new clause 22 would devolve employment support programmes to the Scottish Parliament and would complement existing provisions in the Bill. At present, there are significant restrictions on employment support in the Bill, particularly regarding programmes that last at least 12 months, and their full devolution would enable the Scottish Government to take more coherent, stronger and earlier action to support people into work.
Our new clause 23 would devolve all the working-age benefits to be replaced by universal credit and any benefit introduced to replace universal credit. Civic Scotland has overwhelmingly said that social security powers should be in the hands of the Scottish Parliament, to allow us to tailor policies in line with our own priorities and values and to enable us to protect children and low-income families under attack by the UK Government. The full devolution of universal credit would allow us to establish a much fairer social security system for Scotland.
Our new clause 24 would broaden the powers of administrative flexibilities over universal credit and devolve power over the conditionality and sanctions regime. The SNP has consistently highlighted the shortcomings of the sanctions regime and its manifest failure to protect some of the most vulnerable people in our communities —we have all witnessed the unacceptable explosion in the number of food banks in the last couple of years, which is its most obvious symptom. The Government know perfectly well that the system is not working, which is why they have announced changes, including the new pilot scheme, in recent days, but they are tinkering around the edges of a punitive, bureaucratic and inhumane sanctions regime that is driving sick and vulnerable people to destitution and despair.
The Scotland Bill is our opportunity to take these powers into Scotland’s hands. All progressive forces should join the growing calls from the third sector to deliver a more effective approach. Leaving powers on sanctions and conditionality in the hands of the Tories is simply not good enough.
Our new clause 27 would amend schedule 5 to the Scotland Act 1998 and give the Scottish Parliament competence for equal opportunities in their entirety. Taken with the SNP’s other amendments on gender quotas and equality—amendments 169, 171, 157 and 172 to 175—the new clause would give the Scottish Parliament the powers to improve equality provisions in Scotland, including through legislation and regulation.
Does my hon. Friend agree with me and the Equality and Human Rights Commission that devolving power over all equalities to the Scottish Parliament will enable it to legislate to give people an ability to do things that they have never had before?
My hon. Friend makes her point well. I note that in the previous debate we talked quite a bit about the Human Rights Act and the role that it, too, plays in securing equalities.
The hon. Lady needs to remember that a great deal of the public sector is already devolved and these issues have been worked out. We already have devolution of a whole range of public services, with some issues negotiated at a national level and some at a UK-wide level, so her point seems rather redundant, frankly.
The Scottish Parliament has a good track record of advancing progressive equality measures, and our proposals would enable further progress in gender, disability, LGBTI and race equality—for instance, by improving protections from discrimination and by ensuring a more balanced representation of women in public life and on boards. It is worth pointing out that the full devolution of equality and equal opportunities has been supported by leading equality organisations such as Engender, Inclusion Scotland, the Equality Network and the Coalition for Racial Equality and Rights, whose executive director, Jatin Haria, said:
“Devolution brings power closer to people—and this is particularly important for marginalised and discriminated groups. In addition, many areas which intersect with equality law are already devolved and different in Scotland (e.g. policing or health) and further devolution of equality legislation would better allow the Scottish Parliament to push for specific outcomes which could lead to real improvements in the life chances and experiences for all people living in Scotland.”
New clause 28 and amendment 168 relate to the vexed and long-standing question of the Crown Estate. Amendment 168 would leave out clause 31 and new clause 28 would replace it. Clause 31 is not true to the spirit of the Smith commission, which recommended the full devolution of responsibility for the management of the Crown Estate’s economic assets in Scotland, including the Crown Estate’s seabed, and mineral and fishing rights, and the revenue generated from these assets. Clause 31 is also overly complicated and excludes certain Crown Estate assets, such as Fort Kinnaird, over which my hon. Friend Tommy Sheppard has raised concerns.
One of the largest investments of the Crown Estate in Scotland is in the Fort Kinnaird retail park in Edinburgh East. I have been pressing the Secretary of State on why it is excluded from the transfer. Does my hon. Friend agree that his explanation so far is not very convincing? He says that it cannot be transferred because it is part of a commercial arrangement, but we are only talking about the transfer of the Government’s responsibilities and the Government component in the relationship.
I agree with my hon. Friend, who makes his point well.
As someone who represents coastal communities that have for many decades been held back by the shortcomings of the way that the Crown Estate has operated in Scotland, I for one cannot wait to see those public assets brought under proper democratic accountability and working for the good of those communities. New clause 28 would reduce complexity by removing the reservation relating to the management of the Crown Estate and provide the Scottish Parliament with full legislative competence in relation to the management of the Crown Estate in Scotland. It would also transfer any functions of the Crown Estate Commissioners in relation to rights to the continental shelf beyond the 200 nautical mile-limit adjacent to Scotland. Up to now, Parliament has not made a good job of scrutinising the activities of the Crown Estate. We have an opportunity today to put that right by opening the Crown Estate to better public accountability and putting its assets at the service of our communities.
There are a number of amendment on a miscellaneous range of subjects, all of which would strengthen the Bill, and I want to touch on those before concluding. New clause 29 would give the Scottish Parliament control over the regulation of party political broadcasts for local elections and Scottish elections as well as any referendums held in Scotland in devolved competences, as per the Smith commission recommendation at paragraph 23. That seems to have been missed out of the legislation to date.
New clause 30 devolves broadcasting by amending schedule 5 to the Scotland Act 1998. This would not impact directly on the delivery of the Smith commission proposals on the BBC and Ofcom, both of which are being delivered through memorandums of understanding. Rather, if passed, it would provide for a wider role for the Scottish Parliament and the Scottish Government in broadcasting policy in future.
Amendments 182 and 183 relate to gaming machines and licensed betting premises, and replace the reference to “betting premises” with the more general reference to “gambling premises”, giving full effect to the Smith commission recommendation in paragraph 74.
New clause 31 would give the Scottish Parliament general legislative competence over agriculture, aquaculture and fisheries levies. For me, this reform cannot come soon enough. It would bring to an end the absurd and unacceptable situation whereby Scottish fishermen are paying levies that are used to promote their Norwegian competitors’ fish instead of being used to promote Scottish seafood and to develop new products and markets. For instance, the UK Sea Fish Industry Authority currently organises the UK fish and chip shop awards, which is used by the Norwegian Seafood Council to promote frozen Norwegian fish into the UK market. The finalists of the 2016 awards are even being taken to Norway to learn about the supply of fish from Norway to the UK.
I have no problem at all with fair competition, but I have a massive problem with fishermen in my constituency being forced to pay levies that are then used by a publicly funded body to undermine their own businesses. It needs to end. That is just one reason why the Scottish Seafood Association and others support the devolution of these levies, which could be much better used to promote our locally sourced top-quality produce.
New clause 32 would give Scottish Ministers full powers and the flexibility to decide who would run rail services, in line with paragraph 65 of the Smith commission recommendations, and would allow public sector operators to bid for rail franchises.
Amendments 184 to 188 all relate to fuel poverty support schemes in clause 50, and would provide scope to reshape fuel poverty programmes in Scotland, while amendment 189 removes restrictions on the consultation process with the Scottish Government and Scottish Parliament in relation to the renewables incentive scheme. Again, this would bring the Bill into line with the Smith commission recommendation for a formal consultative role and enable the development of the intergovernmental concordat that we believe is necessary.
Lastly, new clause 33 would enact a formal consultative role for the Scottish Government and the Scottish Parliament in setting the strategic priorities of the Civil
Aviation Authority, which I know is a very important issue for my hon. Friend Hannah Bardell.
Does my hon. Friend agree that the time for debating and voting today is woefully inadequate, given the magnitude and importance of the issues and the number of amendments —more than 100 from the Government? Does she agree that new clause 33, enabling the Scottish Parliament and Government to have power over the Civil Aviation Authority, is very important, particularly to my constituents in Uphall, Broxburn and many other areas of Livingston who have been affected by the first new flight path in 40 years in Scotland—yet the Scottish Government and Parliament have no power over how the CAA operates in that regard?
My hon. Friend makes an important point, and that new clause would make a huge difference to her constituents. She highlights the current lack of democratic accountability in respect of some of these decisions.
We have heard a lot of grandiose language about the Scotland Bill today—that it represents an historic departure and creates a powerhouse Parliament. I welcome the changes that the Government are belatedly introducing, but all the flowery rhetoric in the world will not hide the fact that the Scotland Bill still falls some way short of the Smith commission proposals. More than that, it falls a long way short of the promises made to the people of Scotland.
The SNP amendments would significantly strengthen the Bill and bring it closer to the expectations and aspirations of the people who voted in unprecedented numbers for real powers and meaningful change. As things stand, it will be those on low and average incomes, especially families with children, who will pay the price of these missed opportunities as they continue to suffer under Tory austerity. Big claims have been made for the very modest proposals in this Scotland Bill. Hon. Members could beef it up immeasurably by backing the amendments that I have tabled. I ask them to stand with us tonight in the interests of the Scottish people.
I want to comment briefly on the proposal to devolve abortion law to the Scottish Parliament.
Since 1967, a framework has allowed women to make personal decisions with their doctors. Those decisions are often very difficult, but they should rightly be made by women. I fear that new clause 15, which is being rushed through without proper consultation, will allow the existence of different frameworks in Scotland and in England and Wales. We know that when similar arrangements have operated in Ireland, and also in parts of the United States, many women who may be very vulnerable have often had to travel in order to gain access to the abortion services, advice or healthcare that they need. We do not think it right for women in those circumstances to have to travel far from home and family to secure the services and support that they need, but new clause 15 would allow that to happen.
The new clause also opens the door for deliberate campaigning against a fragmented system. In the United States, anti-abortion campaigners have deliberately targeted individual states and legislatures, and, having failed to change abortion law at federal level, have been able to do so at state level. In fact, they have introduced 200 changes and restrictions on women’s access to abortion over just three years.
I think it is a very sad reflection of Labour Members’ mistrust in their party that they do not trust Kezia Dugdale and her colleagues in the Scottish Parliament with any action that might require some thought and care. Why have Labour Members in Westminster such low opinions of their Scottish colleagues?
I think that, sadly, the hon. Lady is missing the point completely. The issue is whether there are to be different frameworks, and whether women will be expected to travel because the jurisdictions are different.
We know that there is a significant chance that the anti-abortion campaigners will campaign in this instance, because we know that they already want to do so.
I have no time.
The new clause was not initially tabled by the SNP or the Scottish Secretary. It was initially tabled by Members of Parliament who, for a long time, have campaigned for much greater restrictions on abortion. I think the whole House should consider the fact that anti-abortion campaigners want the opportunity—
Several hon. Members rose—
Order. Members cannot just stand there waiting. I should say, in fairness to Yvette Cooper, that she gave way earlier. If she wishes to give way again, I will call whoever wishes to intervene, but Members should not stand there waiting on the off chance that she may do so. I should also say that I am sure the right hon. Lady wishes to face the Chair.
We have been given too little time for such an important debate, so I cannot give way, but I urge Members to bear it in mind that anti-abortion campaigners want this opportunity to fragment and divide us. All of us who support the 1967 Act ought to agree that we should stand together and not allow anti-abortion campaigners to divide us, pick us off one by one, and target us differently. I urge the House to reconsider. We should consult properly, we should take the interests of women and their families into consideration, and we should vote against the new clause tonight.
I agree with what has been said by my right hon. Friend Yvette Cooper. Let me remind the House of our earlier considerations of this issue. When the original devolution legislation of 1997-98 was being put together, the decision not to devolve the legislative framework for abortion was not an accident or an afterthought. We examined the issue carefully at the time, and concluded that it did not make good legislative sense to allow for two different legislative frameworks in two different parts of the country.
The House is very pressed for time.
We have had experience of what happens in those circumstances. We know that 10 women a day have travelled here from the Republic of Ireland because of the different legislative frameworks. I do not predict that that will happen in this instance, but the new clause allows for the possibility. The logic was right before. There is no logic in allowing for two legislative frameworks 18 years on.
It is a pleasure to talk to our new clauses and amendments on this part of the Bill. We have a lot of ground still to cover in this short debate, but it is important to state at the outset that crucial welfare clauses in this Bill deliver on the vow and the Smith agreement in both spirit and substance. That was not the case before the Government tabled their latest tranche of amendments last Monday. That is why, as my SNP colleagues rightly highlighted earlier, the deputy leader of the Scottish Labour party said that the vow had not been met, and indeed the architect of the vow, the right hon. Gordon Brown, the former Prime Minister, made exactly the same points. However, now that the amendments are before the House, we believe that the benefits issue has been resolved and that therefore the vow has been delivered. This is a crucial victory for the Scottish Parliament, the importance of which cannot be overstated. I said at the end of the Committee stage that if the Government did nothing else they should concede to my amendment 31 to allow the Scottish Parliament the power effectively to design its own social security system. Their new clause 34 does that, and we will support them on it.
I am delighted that the hon. Gentleman intervenes with that question, as it allows me to put the record straight. What SNP Members do not mention is the second part of the sentence that the right hon. Gordon Brown said. That was: as close to federalism as we can get in the context of 85% of it being one block called England. That is what he said, and SNP Members never ever talk about that when they talk about “as near to federalism as possible.” The right hon. Gordon Brown can speak for himself when he says these things, and that is exactly the context in which he put this Bill.
Alex Salmond agreed with the amendments on welfare proposed by the Secretary of State. We agree as well, and I would have thought that there would have been some kind of consensus across the Chamber for these amendments.
Let me turn to new clause 2 and Government new clause 34. Part 3 of this Bill devolves to the Scottish Parliament new and substantial powers over welfare, transferring to it £2.5 billion-worth of welfare responsibility. As I said when we debated this part in Committee, this presents a real opportunity for Scotland and the Scottish Parliament. Today we will pass amendments that will fundamentally transform the Scottish Parliament’s relationship with the social security system. That is why the Bill is so important. According to the House of Commons Library, if the Bill were passed in its present form, the Scottish Parliament would be responsible for 62% of all public expenditure, but our new clause 2 and the Government new clause 34 will give the Scottish Parliament total freedom to create new benefits in all devolved areas. It would then be up to the Scottish Government of the day to design the system they want and the Scottish people have voted for, and to find the resources to pay for that system.
The same goes for Government new clause 14, which devolves the Scottish Parliament’s legislative competence regarding welfare foods. I believe that was an SNP proposal, and, again, we support it.
The power to create new benefits in devolved areas was a Smith agreement recommendation and delivering on that commitment has been an absolute priority for the Opposition. We tabled the initial new clause in Committee, which the Government voted against, but I am delighted that the Secretary of State and Government have now come over to our way of thinking, as they have on the veto and the carer’s allowance. As the SNP finally conceded halfway through a Scottish Labour debate in the Scottish Parliament last week, and as we have heard again tonight, the original clause 21 and this new clause also afford the Scottish Parliament the power to top-up any reserved benefit. There can now be no doubt that the Scotland Bill will allow the Scottish Government to compensate fully the Scottish families affected by the Government’s pernicious cuts to tax credits.
The reality is that Scotland will pay for the administration of tax credits and it will also pay for the administration to top up tax credits. Rather than just devolving the provision, why should we pay for its administration twice under what the hon. Gentleman is proposing?
The proposal would allow for the top-up of any reserved benefit and for the introduction of any devolved benefit. So, although we use the term “restoration”, it would actually create a new top-up reserved benefit, as does the Bill. There is a lot of misunderstanding relating to the fact that a lot of these benefits are not being devolved; they are effectively being switched off. The Scottish Government would therefore have to introduce new proposals in relation to any of the provisions in the Bill.
We are running out of time, so I shall press on.
We will not cut tax credits for Scottish working families. Kezia Dugdale, the Scottish Labour party leader, has made that quite clear, and we have been very clear about how we would pay for that. It is interesting to note that on four different occasions tonight we heard nothing from the SNP about whether it would match that commitment—
The hon. Lady says “twice”, but the record will show that ours is a clearly costed policy that would be delivered using the new powers in the Bill.
Several hon. Members rose—
I shall move on, because we are running out of time—[Interruption.] We have already heard complaints about the restricted time for the debate. I would have thought, given that we agree on the welfare provisions, that the braying mob on the SNP Benches would have taken a little time to run through some of them.
Now that the Secretary of State has come round to Labour’s way of thinking on the power to create new benefits, the Bill strikes the right balance between reserved and devolved areas. The Smith agreement said that the welfare state and the social security system should remain shared across these islands. New clause 3, whose provisions are linked to new schedule 1, would provide for a cross-Parliament Committee on welfare devolution to oversee the transition and implementation of welfare powers transferred by the Bill. That would go some way towards resolving the point raised by Callum McCaig. The Scottish Council on Voluntary Organisations has welcomed the new clause, stating that it is a
“pragmatic proposal given the need to ensure continuous, timely delivery of social security payments to those who receive them.”
It goes without saying that any new Committee must be open and transparent. We have already seen the Scottish Government claiming that they might reject the Scotland Bill if the secretive fiscal framework is not to their liking. We cannot afford for that to happen with these important welfare provisions.
Turning to new clause 5, I have said that Labour’s key aim is to deliver in full on the recommendations of the Smith agreement, but we are prepared to go beyond it if we see a reasonable argument for doing so. The new clause goes beyond the agreement in seeking to devolve the childcare element of universal credit to the Scottish Parliament.
Amendments 21, 22 and 23 cover another area in which I believe we should go beyond the Smith agreement’s recommendations—namely, making payments to individuals who have been sanctioned. Dr Whiteford mentioned this in her eloquent speech. The Labour party is committed to reviewing the UK sanctions regime, the punitive nature of which is beginning to spiral out of control, forcing people into destitution on the back of draconian DWP targets. That is why we believe that the Scottish Parliament should have the power to make payments to individuals who have had payments unfairly reduced, suspended or withdrawn due to the UK Government’s sanctions regime.
We have also tabled amendments 24 and 25, which I shall address alongside Government amendments 77 and 78. These all concern the perceived existence in the Bill of a UK ministerial veto in relation to the regulation-making powers for universal credit being transferred to the Scottish Parliament. I am grateful that the Secretary of State has again listened, not only to the Labour party but to the SNP, on this issue. The Government have now redrafted the relevant clauses and removed the perceived veto. When I wrote to the Secretary of State asking him to confirm this, he gave me an assurance that the UK Government would have a “legal obligation” to implement any changes made by Scottish Ministers.
I welcome the Secretary of State’s amendments 70 and 71, which will remove the restrictive definitions relating to carer’s allowance, but I am disappointed that he has not removed the similar definitions in relation to disability allowance, as many of the disability charities in Scotland requested. Amendment 194 offers an alternative broader and more flexible definition of disability benefits, and I hope that if the Secretary of State cannot give us a satisfactory answer on this matter tonight, we will pursue it in the other place at the Bill’s next stage.
Let me deal briefly with the issue of abortion, making it clear from this Dispatch Box that nobody in this Chamber is saying that the Scottish Parliament does not have the capacity or indeed the responsibility to deal with abortion. The Smith agreement said that there would be a process, and, as we have heard eloquently this evening from my right hon. Friend Yvette Cooper, the devolution of abortion has to be dealt with properly and sensitively. The Secretary of State avoided my intervention earlier. He said in this House in July that the Smith agreement did not allow for the devolution of abortion at this stage and it would not be in this Bill, but that a proper process would be put in place to ensure that it is done sensitively, properly and in consultation with women’s organisations in Scotland. I do not think that his frantically calling round women’s organisations in Scotland on the day he tables the amendment is satisfactory consultation or that it takes into account the issues that many women in Scotland have contacted me about.
This is not about the time limit for abortion; this relates to the entire complex matrix of the legislation that sits behind abortion. It is about the issues relating to the criminality of abortion, the authorisation of abortion and where abortions can be carried out. It is not just about 24 weeks; it is about much more than that. The Secretary of State should reflect on the fact that a proper consultation needs to be put in place, otherwise he is in danger of doing something incredibly dangerous to abortion in this country.
The Secretary of State has said time and again when taking interventions that the Scottish Parliament had the capacity to legislate on abortion. Does my hon. Friend agree that it is a question not of whether there is capacity, but of whether or not it is desirable to have two different legislative regimes for this in Scotland and England?
Regardless of who legislates for it, we may end up with different legislative regimes on either side of the border. I am perfectly confident in the Scottish Parliament, and I take the First Minister’s word that she will not change the regulations, but that is not to say that the regulations down here might not change and we end up with abortion tourism. Nobody wants that across the United Kingdom, and my right hon. Friend, who took the Scotland Act through this place—
My right hon. Friend did not take it through this place but he was heavily involved in it, and he knows about the issues relating to abortion and the position taken.
Amendment 26 makes it explicit that, among the exceptions to reserved matters on equal opportunities, the power to set gender quotas is being devolved to the Scottish Parliament. The Labour party takes this issue very seriously, and we thank Women 50:50 for helping us with these issues. I also commend amendment 225.
We now have a welfare section in this Bill that is in line with the Smith agreement. Everyone in this Chamber should be incredibly proud of that achievement and now we must move on to the debate about how we use these powers.
I do not want to say too much more at this stage, other than to welcome the fact that, other than in relation to the issue of abortion, to which I shall return, the Government’s proposals have been accepted. I am grateful for that.
In Committee, I said we would listen to sensible proposals made in the context of the Smith agreement, and that is what we have done. That is why I am not persuaded by some of the amendments, particularly those set out by Dr Whiteford on the welfare system. They did not relate to areas that formed part of the agreement. As we have mentioned on other occasions during this debate, the SNP was of course part of the Smith commission process and it signed up to an agreement that at that point did not seek to devolve tax credits to the Scottish Parliament. What was devolved were extensive powers that allow: the topping up of tax credits and other benefits; the creation of new benefits in devolved areas; the topping up of child benefit; and changes to be made to income tax—
I asked this question of the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions in Committee but did not receive an answer, so will the Minister assure us now that, in the event of the Scottish Government deciding to top up any benefit, it will then not be considered income and clawed back at a later stage when universal credit is being claimed?
The Scottish Government will have to take into consideration all the decisions that they make, because they will be responsible and accountable. I suspect that we will see a change in them. They will move from a position of making uncosted promises to one where they are held to account for where the money is coming from.
I do not agree with the Scottish Labour party’s commitment to put up the taxes of hard-working people in Scotland, but at least it is honest about it. It wants to put up tax to pay for additional benefits in Scotland. That is a fair position for it to adopt, but the Scottish National party has said nothing about how it will deploy these significant new powers.
Once again, in relation to welfare, the focus has been solely on what cannot be done rather than on applying thought and rigour to exactly what can be achieved. Benefits in Scotland can be completely redesigned in areas such as disability and carers’ benefits. They are reserved benefits that the Scottish Parliament can top up. Changes in income tax is another such matter. However, that is not where the thought process is; the thought process is entirely on what cannot be done. As we have heard in the various statements on benefits, it really has been a case of “grievo max” rather than devo max.
I know that Yvette Cooper does not agree with my position on abortion, and that she is minded to oppose this measure. However, if my amendment is carried, I will meet her and any of her concerned colleagues to discuss how we can best proceed to ensure that the matters that she set out do not come to pass. I do not believe that they will. I strongly believe that the Scottish Parliament has the capacity to deal with this issue. There is no constitutional reason why this amendment should not be made, and the Smith commission did indeed recommend that it be done. It said that it should be done sensitively and that there should be a process. I am happy to talk about that process. I know that the Scottish Government are happy to talk about that process and to engage with interested parties. On that basis, I do hope that the House will not divide on these issues.
The Government have set out their amendments—
No, I will not.
The amendments set out by both Labour and the SNP in relation to this group go beyond what the Smith commission proposed. The Government amendments deliver the Smith commission in full. On that basis, I hope that the House will support the Government amendments.
Question put and agreed to.
New clause 14 accordingly read a Second time, and added to the Bill.