30 November 2014
Following the referendum, Lord Smith of Kelvin was appointed by the UK Government to chair a group on further powers for the Scottish Parliament.
Each of the political parties in the Scottish Parliament were represented on the Commission which was set a target of St Andrew’s Day to produce its proposals.
The Scottish Government played a positive role in the discussions, seeking to secure more powers to enable Scotland to become a more prosperous country, build a fairer society and strengthen Scotland’s place in the world.
The Scottish Government published our proposals on more powers for the Scottish Parliament on October 10, 2014. The First Minister (then Deputy First Minister) said:
“Our key focus will be on delivering ‘powers for a purpose’ – that means putting forward proposals that will deliver real change for the people of Scotland and better equip the Scottish Parliament to create jobs, protect public services and tackle inequality.”
On 27 November 2014, the Smith Commission published its Heads of Agreement on further devolution of powers to the Scottish Parliament.
— First Minister (@ScotGovFM) December 15, 2014
The First Minister welcomed the inclusion of votes for 16 and 17 year-olds, and the limited expansion of power over welfare and taxation but also said the proposals fell far short of those made by the Scottish Government and by a wide range of civic organisations and people across Scotland.
“The Scottish Government will work jointly with the UK Government on the next stage of this progress, in line with the full and constructive part we have played so far.
“We want to ensure that the spirit and intention of the Smith recommendations are reflected in the legislative proposals to be published by the end of January, and that the process includes the people of Scotland following the unprecedented levels of engagement during the referendum, and the public consultation continued by Lord Smith.”
On 15 December the First Minister held her first talks with the David Cameron. They agreed to pursue early action to allow the Scottish Parliament to give votes to 16 and 17 year olds.
The First Minister said:
“Following the meeting, I am confident that we now have the basis of a deal on the necessary devolution of powers to extend the franchise to 16 and 17 year-olds in time for the 2016 election, giving us the opportunity to build on the huge success of the engagement we saw in the referendum.
“But we need to move quickly if this is going to happen”
On 22 January 2015, the UK Government published a command paper containing draft clauses of a proposed bill to devolve more powers to Scotland.
The First Minister outlined her concerns about the proposed legislation, pointing out that it handed a veto to Westminster in key areas, including the power to end the bedroom tax.
In addition, draft clauses for the full devolution of unemployment support currently fall short of what was promised, and do not fully reflect the Scottish Government’s commitment to tackling inequality, as Scotland would be tied to the UK’s current austerity fiscal framework.
The First Minister met the Prime Minister in Edinburgh on January 22, 2015 to discuss the proposals.
— First Minister (@ScotGovFM) January 22, 2015
During the discussions she made it clear that the Scottish Government would continue to work with the UK Government and others to ensure the required Smith Commission changes are made ahead of the Bill being taken forward, with the aim of developing a Bill with widespread support that can be introduced shortly after the UK General Election in May 2015.