We need your support to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can continue to hold their elected representatives to account.

Donate to our crowdfunder

Constitutional Changes

– in the Scottish Parliament on 27th May 2015.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Kenny MacAskill Kenny MacAskill Scottish National Party

3. To ask the Scottish Government what plans it has to meet the United Kingdom Government to discuss proposed constitutional changes. (S4O-04366)

Photo of John Swinney John Swinney Scottish National Party

On 15 May, the First Minister and I met the Prime Minister, the Secretary of State for Scotland and the parliamentary under-secretary of state. At that meeting, the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Scotland made clear commitments that the forthcoming Scotland bill will implement the Smith commission in full. We will test that commitment when we see the Scotland bill tomorrow.

The Prime Minister also undertook to consider Scottish Government proposals for devolution beyond the measures in the Smith commission. We will put those proposals to the UK Government, and I will meet the secretary of state to discuss the next steps.

Photo of Kenny MacAskill Kenny MacAskill Scottish National Party

I welcome the declaration by the Scottish Government that it will defend the measures in the Human Rights Act 1998 and its principles. Will the Government now modify its position on prisoner voting, to adhere to the European Court of Human Rights rulings that it endorses?

Photo of John Swinney John Swinney Scottish National Party

The Scottish Government does not have legislative competence to change the position on prisoner voting. Once the Scotland bill delivers the Smith recommendations to transfer all powers to the Scottish Parliament in relation to elections to the Scottish Parliament and local elections in Scotland, it will be for this Parliament to consider all the relevant franchise issues. The Scottish Government has no proposals to amend the rules on prisoner voting.

Photo of Lewis Macdonald Lewis Macdonald Labour

Does the cabinet secretary acknowledge that the Smith agreement, supported by the Devolution (Further Powers) Committee’s critique of the UK Government’s draft clauses, provides the right basis for both devolving welfare benefits and retaining the benefits of the Barnett formula?

Photo of John Swinney John Swinney Scottish National Party

The Scottish Government supports the Smith commission proposals, which give some additional responsibility to the Scottish Parliament. As Mr Macdonald well knows, because he sat through the evidence that the Devolution (Further Powers) Committee heard, that committee’s conclusion was that the United Kingdom Government’s draft clauses do not translate the proposals from the Smith commission in full and with the necessary legislative effect.

It might have been helpful if Mr Macdonald and his colleagues had made that point before the election and not after it. I seem to remember them suggesting that the Government was somehow picking a fight where no fight needed to be picked on that question. However, I am glad that he has now arrived at a more sensible and considered position on the issue. We look forward to having Mr Macdonald’s support as we press the United Kingdom Government to devolve in full the responsibilities that were envisaged by the Smith commission agreement last November.