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Second reading for Scotland Bill in House of Commons


MPs will consider and vote on plans to devolve more powers to Scotland when the House of Commons debates the second reading of the Scotland Bill later.

The bill follows the recommendations of the Smith Commission, which was set up after the independence referendum.

It would give Holyrood control over income tax rates and bands, a half share in VAT revenues and a greater say over welfare powers in Scotland.

The SNP say the bill falls short in almost every way.

‘Strong signal’

The Secretary of State for Scotland, David Mundell, will open the debate.

He is expected to reiterate the UK government’s commitment to deliver its promise of further devolution. He will also pay tribute to Lord Smith and the politicians who sat on the Smith Commission.

Mr Mundell said: “The fact the Scotland Bill is the first piece of legislation to be debated in this new session sends a clear and strong signal of our intent to get on with the business of delivering significant new powers for Scotland.”

While it has main party support, the second reading will allow MPs to discuss the principles of the legislation and provide parties with a platform to put forward their opinions.


The SNP, which has 56 of Scotland’s 59 MPs, is calling for further powers over employment laws, the minimum wage and business taxes.

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Deputy First Minister John Swinney said: “The Scotland Bill put forward by the UK government fails to deliver the Smith Agreement in full, either in spirit or in law.

“The changes we have proposed would bring the Scotland Bill up to scratch and properly implement the Smith Agreement in full. That’s the absolute minimum we need if the prime minister’s respect agenda is to have any credibility.”

Meanwhile, the Scottish government has challenged the UK Treasury’s austerity plans. In a meeting with the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr Swinney, in his capacity as the Scottish finance secretary, will say the UK government could ease the scale and speed of spending cuts, invest in public services and still achieve its debt and borrowing targets.

‘Struggling families’

Labour’s Shadow Scottish Secretary, Ian Murray, said his party would table a number of amendments to strengthen the Scotland Bill as they see it. They want the final say on benefits to rest with Scotland.

Mr Murray said: “More devolution can protect the most vulnerable in Scotland from the worst of the Tories. The major new powers coming to Scotland give us the chance to do things differently, so that never again can a right-wing government impose the bedroom tax on struggling families.

“The final say on benefits paid in Scotland should be made in Scotland.”

The debate will end with a vote on whether the Bill can proceed to the Committee stage, at which point individual clauses and amendments would be debated.

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