17 of 24 Queen’s Speech Bills to apply north of border and Scotland Bill could mean major Edinburgh tax and welfare powers
SCOTLAND’S and the rest of the UK’s politicians, and all the businesses and organisations affected by them, could be set for a period of legislative wrangling after the British public delivered a remarkable general election result last month.
David Cameron led a single-party Conservative government back to Westminster for the first time since 1997.
But he has just one MP in Scotland (Scottish Secretary David Mundell) after the SNP gained 50 seats to take 56 out of the available 59 constituencies.
The Queen’s Speech, which sets out the new Westminster government’s legislative programme, was delivered weeks after the election.
It included 24 bills, 17 of which will apply in part or in whole to Scotland. Many of the areas covered will be important to retailers, including employment and welfare, energy, national insurance contributions, and immigration.
But most important in Scotland is likely to be the Scotland Bill.
Said by the UK government to show how it intends to deliver on the suggestions of the Smith Commission, which followed the no vote in the Scottish independence referendum, it will, says Westminster, provide one of the strongest devolved administrations in the world. It would allow Holyrood to set thresholds and rates of income tax on earnings in Scotland, and have responsibility for all income tax raised in Scotland as well as the first 10p of VAT (currently 50% of VAT revenues).
The Scottish government would also have greater responsibility for many aspects of welfare and for programmes that aid those in search of work.
But first minister Nicola Sturgeon has said she thinks the bill “falls short in almost every area”.
In the immediate aftermath of the election, the Scottish c-store industry representative group the Scottish Grocers Federation said it would directly contact all of the new Scottish MPs, highlighting the impact independent convenience stores have on the local and national economy and giving each MP a breakdown of the number of convenience stores in their constituency and the jobs they provide.
SGF chief executive Pete Cheema said: “This is a remarkable result. SGF’s ability to engage with and influence both Scottish MPs and members of the Scottish Parliament means that it is now more important than ever for suppliers, symbol groups and retailers to engage with and support the federation.