The new Scotland Bill Committee has today agreed a timetable of scrutiny which will see its recommendations and findings reported back to the Scottish Parliament by no later than December 2011.
The timetable means the Scottish Parliament will be in a position to vote on a ‘legislative consent motion’ in time to coincide with the Scotland Bill returning to the House of Commons following its passage through the House of Lords.
The Holyrood committee’s timetable envisages between 10 and 12 formal meetings taking place between now and December, with additional fact finding meetings with business groups and ‘civic Scotland’ being scheduled for July and August.
Scottish Ministers are likely to appear before the parliamentary committee later this month, with UK Ministers appearing at Holyrood in September.
Linda Fabiani MSP, who was today formally elected convener of the 11-strong committee said:
“The Secretary of State for Scotland and the Chancellor of Exchequer wrote to this Committee to say the UK Government has committed to listen carefully to any detailed proposals supported by robust evidence that are put forward by the Scottish Government to further change the Scotland Bill.
“Our committee’s remit will be to consider the UK Bill in its amended form, and to scrutinise the Scottish Government’s proposal for an additional six policy areas to be added to the powers of the Scottish Parliament.
“Over the coming months as convener, I hope to build upon the consensus that exists across the parties, and to explore constructively the evidence both for and against further additional powers being devolved to Holyrood.”
Outline of work programme
The Committee will briefly recap on the main recommendations agreed by the previous Scotland Bill Committee. The amount of time needed for this may, in part, depend on how the UK Government is responding to the previous Committee’s report. The types of issue would include:
- Borrowing powers and issuing of bonds, including limits, end-year flexibility issues etc;
- Devolution of Air Passenger Duty and Aggregates Tax;
- Power to vary the higher rates of income tax independently in the future;
- Intergovernmental arrangements, including establishment of a Joint Exchequer Committee;
- Implementation arrangements for the new financial powers and the costs of implementation, including grant reduction mechanisms;
- Role of HM Treasury in ‘agreeing’ new taxes;
- Devolution of air weapons, drink driving and speed limits, appointment processes to the BBC Trust, MG Alba board and the Crown Estate;
- Role of the Scottish Parliament in international obligations; and
- Scottish Parliament’s power over elections.
The key, additional priority issues the Committee will consider in its work programme include:
- Borrowing powers (higher limits and earlier access to such powers);
- Devolution of corporation tax;
- Devolution of excise duties on alcohol and tobacco;
- Control over the revenues of the Crown Estate by the Scottish Parliament;
- Regulatory influence over broadcasting to establish a Scottish Digital Channel;
- Mechanism to give Scotland more power to influence UK European policy; and
- Devolution issues and acts of the Lord Advocate, and the role of the UK Supreme Court.
A call for evidence is likely to be issued by the Committee following its next meeting later this month.