Scotland politics

Scotland's referendum: Five facts from Labour's devolution plan

Scottish Parliament Image copyright PA

The Scottish Labour Party has unveiled proposals for further devolution of powers to Scotland, ahead of September's independence referendum. Here are five key facts from their plan.

1. Tax

Labour would give MSPs the power to vary tax rates by up to 15p in the pound, giving Scotland control of three quarters of the 20p basic rate of income tax.

MSPs would also have the powers to increase the higher rates of income tax, giving it the ability to tax richer citizens more.

However, Labour has said top rates may only be cut if all rates are cut, to prevent Scotland launching a tax competition with Westminster.

Overall, the Scottish Parliament should raise about 40% of its own revenues, approximately £2bn more than under the most recent Scotland Act 2012.

2. Welfare

Housing benefit should be devolved to permit MSPs to abolish the under-occupancy penalty, which opponents have dubbed the "bedroom tax".

Welfare and skills should be devolved to local authorities, with Holyrood providing "strategic oversight".

The commission's document says: "We take the view that Housing Benefit should be devolved to the Scottish Parliament.

"We will use this power to abolish the Bedroom Tax, ensure secure funding for the provision of social housing and reduce abuse by unscrupulous private landlords."

It adds: "Given the connection between Attendance Allowance and health and social care policies, we believe that it should be devolved in full to Scotland. The funding would be transferred to the Scottish Budget and appropriately updated in future. "

3. Elections

The Scottish Parliament would have control over the administration of its own elections.

Westminster would not be able to dissolve the Scottish Parliament.

The Labour Party commission says: "We believe the Scottish Parliament should become permanently entrenched in the constitution and indissoluble."

4. Internal devolution

Along with local authorities getting some welfare powers, there should be more powers for the islands.

The Labour commission says Holyrood should be able to work with the islands councils to "support the development of renewable energy resources"

The document also says: "Responsibility for delivery of the DWP Work Programme should be devolved to local authorities to better reflect local labour market conditions, with the Scottish Parliament playing a partnership role and providing strategic oversight."

5. Other powers

Scotland should have its own health and safety executive, employment tribunals, equalities legislation and consumer advocacy.

MSPs could also have wider powers over the railways in order to create a "not for profit" service.

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