3 The Scotland Act 2016
In September 2014, following a Scottish referendum on independence, the people of Scotland voted to remain part of a United Kingdom. The Scottish Government had campaigned for independence. Following the referendum Lord Smith of Kelvin was tasked with overseeing and delivering a cross-party agreement on the shape of improved and enhanced devolution for Scotland.
On 27 November 2014 Lord Smith delivered an agreement. This had been agreed by all five of the main Scottish political parties and outlined further powers for the Scottish Parliament.
Box 4 Comment on the Scotland Bill leading to the 2016 Scotland Act.
The Bill will make the Scottish Parliament one of the world’s most powerful devolved parliaments and allow more decisions affecting Scotland to be taken in Scotland. It will increase the financial responsibility of the Scottish Parliament, and its accountability to the Scottish public.
The package contains significant financial powers, including over income tax and VAT, the devolution of substantial elements of the welfare system and a range of other powers, including constitutional powers and powers in areas such as oil and gas and transport.
Along with a more powerful and accountable Scottish Parliament, Scotland will also retain the huge benefits of being part of a strong United Kingdom with a large UK economy, a UK pound, UK pensions and UK armed forces – just as the Scottish people made clear they wanted in last year’s referendum.
The explanatory note to the Bill indicates that it delivers the Smith Commission Agreement.
Box 5 Overview of the Bill
- The Scotland Bill will deliver the Smith Commission Agreement, which was published in November 2014 having gained all-party agreement in Scotland.
- The Bill is an enabling Bill and the majority of the provisions in the Bill set out the powers that are being transferred to the Scottish Parliament and or Scottish Ministers. In particular the Scotland Bill amends sections of the Scotland Act 1998 and rebalances the devolved and reserved responsibilities between the administrations. The Bill also includes provisions which set out the constitutional relationship of the Scottish Parliament and Scottish Government within the United Kingdom's constitutional arrangements. It does not amend this relationship.