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Scotland Act 2015
I beg leave to introduce the following bill as a 10 Minute Rule Bill
Members across this House will remember the incredibly divisive referendum on the future of Scotland and whether it remained in the United Kingdom, we won and Scotland stayed but we did so at the cost of a series of promises about further devolution, promises that I present this legislation to keep. Whilst the Government is content to ignore the people of Scotland the Conservative Party will not, we promised to implement further devolution based on four key principles:
- Complete devolution of Income Tax,
- Devolving the power to alter Corporation Tax by plus or minus 5%,
- The permanence of the Scottish Parliament, and
- The power for the Scottish Parliament to take control of its own constitutional affairs subject to a two thirds majority
Mr Speaker this bill fulfils those promises and in the absence of any Government-led cross party consensus represents the most comprehensive devolutionary package for the Scottish people. All of the powers outlined have clearly defined parameters and provide the Scottish Parliament with the power to choose the destiny of Scotland as an equal member of our family of nations. The powers to overhaul Income Tax and to vary Corporation Tax will give the Scottish Government the choice to either promote a low tax Scotland in the hope that it attracts talent, business, and investment, or the power to provide stronger public services through an increase in taxation to pay for devolved funding areas. The power to alter the constitutional affairs of Scotland will give Holyrood unprecedented control over elections that occur north of Hadrian's Wall subject to a two-thirds majority of the Scottish Parliament whilst Section 4 provides that Holyrood will never be revoked without the express consent of the Scottish people either through supermajority vote in Scotland or through majority vote in the House of Commons and a referendum on the issue for the people of Scotland.
Mr Speaker, Scotland demands that we are held to account for the promises we made in the referendum campaign. The Conservative Party offered to meet with the Government in good faith, at the Prime Minister's invitation to set a date and time, but we were met with silence. This Government have chosen not to lead on this critical constitutional issue, I urge them to show the people of Scotland that the Better Together Campaign didn't lie to them and that further devolution is possible. I urge this House to support this bill and I urge the Leader of the House to give it time for debate and division.
Conservative MP for North East Bedfordshire
Leader of the Opposition (2014-16)
Prime Minister (2014)
Parliamentary Experience: Novice (25)
Media Experience: Experienced (62)
Policy Experience: Novice (29)
I rise in full support of this Act, and commend my friend the Rt. Hon Leader of the Opposition for introducing such a critical piece of legislation.
This, Mr. Speaker, is what real leadership from Parliament looks like. During the referendum campaign all three major parties made clear and specific promises to the Scottish people about what Scotland's role in the United Kingdom would be in the event they remained within the Union. All of us here today, on both sides of the House, made a commitment to deliver on those promises. Now, months after the referendum and with no word out of the Government, the Conservative Party is taking the initiative to make good on those promises.
Scotland will receive their redefined role in the United Kingdom, not because of the Coalition, but in spite of them. The Conservative Party, the party of the Union, has said time and time again that we believe passionately in the value of our United Kingdom. We don't say that because it makes a nice talking point, we say it because we believe it. Now, when the dust of the referendum campaign has settled, we're working to prove it. And this legislation does just that.
The legislation proposed by the Opposition delivers totally on the commitments made to the Scottish people. As the Leader of Opposition indicated in his speech presenting the legislation to House, the Act fulfills the promises that were made during the campaign. Passage of this legislation provides the Scottish Parliament with total power of income tax, greater control over corporate tax, and the institutional legitimacy it needs to function as a proper representative body of the will of the Scottish people. In doing so, Mr. Speaker, the legislation not only makes good on the promises that were made during the campaign, but also achieves the critical goal of putting more power into the hands of the people by bringing the decision making process closer to the people effected by the decisions being made.
Unanimously passing this legislation, and sending a clear signal that the will of the Scottish people is always to be respected, is fundamentally the right thing to do. It's the right thing to do for Scotland and for the whole of the United Kingdom. This legislation serves as a valuable opportunity to remind the country that Parliament serves the people, and the people are the masters of our democracy. The future of our Union depends on our ability to adapt to the changing political landscape and the new pressures we face as a country. This legislation makes clear that we will be able to meet those challenges head on, now and in the future.
Actions speak louder than words, Mr. Speaker. The Scottish people were told by the Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats that if Scotland remained in the Union, Parliament would act to enhance the powers of the Scottish Parliament and self-governance of the Scottish people. With this legislation, the Conservative Party has shown our willingness and desire to act. Now it's time for the Coalition to do the same.
Member of Parliament for Bracknell
Shadow Foreign Secretary
Chairman of the Conservative Party
Chief Whip of the Conservative party
This bill represents the delivery on a promise made in the Better Together campaign. The people of Scotland have made it abundantly clear that they want real, meaningful control over their government north of the border. We promised it to them and now, while the Government has been tied in knots trying to slam their bloated Reform Act through Parliament time and time again, loaded with devolution proposals that nobody asked for, the Conservatives have taken the time to come out and deliver on the promise to support devolution that millions have asked for.
With this Act, the people of Scotland will have the ability to set their fiscal priorities and to better shape their future. Whether they want to raise revenue for public works projects or cut taxes to spur growth, the choice will be theirs.
Moreover, we take steps to secure the position of the Scottish Parliament within the United Kingdom. We protect it against any power grabs from London in the future, we give them control over their own Constitutional affairs within the United Kingdom, and only the Scottish people or their elected representatives can change their Constitutional settlement going forward.
Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives have stepped up to the plate to offer the people of Scotland what was promised to them. It is now time for the Coalition to step up with us and follow through, lest the people of Scotland feel betrayed by the promises that Better Together made.
Steven Andrews, MP for Croydon South
34 Policy/18 Media/23 Parliamentary