Scotland politics

Scotland Bill: Cross-party committee wants clarity on funding package

Holyrood building Image copyright PA
Image caption More powers are due to be handed to the Scottish Parliament through the Scotland Bill

A cross-party committee of MSPs believes the Scotland Bill cannot be given the go-ahead until the funding package linked to it is fully known.

The plea for clarity was contained in a letter sent to Scottish Secretary David Mundell from Holyrood's devolution committee convener Bruce Crawford.

It highlighted that an agreement on the fiscal framework was likely to be delayed until "at least December".

Earlier this week, MPs voted in the House of Commons to back the bill.

In its letter, the committee said: "We are pleased to see the improvements you have made to the bill as many of these are in direct response to the recommendations we made (carers, new benefits and top-up benefits)."

It also said that progress was being made to reach an "acceptable resolution" in a number of areas, including some on welfare.

However, it added that there were other areas where the bill "still falls short", including on employment provisions, definitions of disability and the Crown Estate.

The committee said: "The definition of disability contained in the bill is overly restrictive and would not provide a future Scottish Government with the power to develop its own approach to disability benefits in the future."

'Adequate scrutiny'

It added: "You will note that we are not yet in a position to make any comments on many of the financial provisions in the Bill (such as on income tax, borrowing, assignment of VAT etc). This is because these will be part of the fiscal framework on which agreement has not yet been reached and looks like being delayed until at least December 2015.

"We reaffirm our view that an agreement to the non-legislative fiscal framework is vital and of equal importance as agreement on the provisions in the bill itself.

"That is why it is critical that this committee and others are provided with a copy of the final draft agreed between the two governments in sufficient time to enable adequate scrutiny to take place before the question of the legislative consent to the bill is put to the Scottish Parliament next year."

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