‘Smith Commission Report Falls Far Short of Promises, But Proposal of Transfer of Powers Over ‘Fracking’ Welcomed’ – Angus MacDonald MSP

NEW powers proposed to be devolved to the Scottish Parliament fall far short of promises made by the unionist parties during the last days of the Referendum claims Falkirk East MSP Angus MacDonald. However, the local MSP has welcomed proposals to transfer full control over the controversial technique and issuing of licenses for hydraulic fracturing, or ‘fracking’. Mr MacDonald had previously written to the SNP Government’s Chief Negotiator at the Smith Commisssion, Depute First Minister John Swinney MSP, calling on him to ensure powers over ‘fracking’ were strongly pushed for at the start of the negotiations.

Commenting on the publication of the Smith Commission report this week Angus MacDonald said:

“These are very limited powers and fall way below the ‘substantial and cohesive powers’ which were promised. The proposals clearly do not reflect the full wishes of the people of Scotland, and also fall far short of the rhetoric from the ‘No’ campaign during the referendum. Regrettably, it is now clear the Westminster parties were not prepared to deliver the powerhouse parliament the people of Scotland were promised. The Westminster Government will still control around 70% of tax raising powers and around 85% of welfare powers – that isn’t Home Rule!

“Under the proposals less than 30% of taxes and less than 20% of welfare spending will be set in Scotland.

“To devolve setting tax bands but not the levels of personal allowance is tying our hands behind our back. Job creation, the key to a socially just society and growing the economy requires full control of tax and benefits.

“Control of employer national insurance contributions, tax incentives for research and development, the personal allowance to lift more low earners out of tax and make work pay, corporate taxation, child and working tax credits, and the ability to shape a welfare system that helps rather than hinders the path to employment all stay with Westminster.

“I don’t think the 1.6 million who voted yes and the many who voted no expecting substantial powers will think this is what the Vow promised to deliver in the last days of the Referendum.

“I am however delighted that full powers over unconventional gas extraction and ‘fracking’ are proposed to be transferred to the Scottish Parliament. I am particularly pleased about that outcome as I had specifically asked John Swinney to raise that issue early on in the negotiations. The proposal from the Smith Commission highlights the fact that both the Scottish Government and the Scottish Parliament do not currently have the powers necessary to fully control this controversial method of gas extraction.

“While I welcome the new powers – greater control of income tax, Air Passenger Duty (APD), the Crown Estate, devolution of some welfare spend and transfer of the franchise, allowing votes for 16 and 17 year-olds, as well as full control over ‘fracking’ I now join with my SNP colleagues in calling for full implementation of those proposals with no equivocation whatsoever by Westminster.

“The elections next May will be an opportunity for the people of Falkirk district, and Scotland as a whole, to show what they think of the Westminster parties if the fail us again. Next year’s General Election offers the people of Scotland the opportunity to have their say, and the SNP will propose improvements to the package for which we will seek popular support in May.

In the meantime, I’ll be watching any progress at Westminster with a great deal of interest”.

 

“In the meantime, I’ll be watching any progress at Westminster with a great deal of interest”.

Copyright © Angus MacDonald MSP 2017

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