Scotland Bill “missed opportunity and not yet fit for purpose” says Holyrood Committee


The UK Parliament’s Scotland Bill, as it currently stands, is a “missed opportunity” and is “not yet fit for purpose”, according to a report published today by Holyrood’s Scotland Bill Committee.

Committee Convener Linda Fabiani MSP believes that while the introduction of the Bill is welcome, the proposed increased powers for the Scottish Parliament do not go far enough. 

"It is the committee’s view that the Scotland Bill as currently drafted is a missed opportunity and is not yet fit for purpose.”
- Committee Convener Linda Fabiani MSP
The two-volume, 200-pages-plus report sets out the committee’s recommendations for a range of increased financial and non-financial powers for Holyrood.

Linda Fabiani MSP said: “This Bill does offer the potential for an important set of changes for Scotland and for the UK.

"This committee recognises that it is the first time that meaningful taxation powers have been decentralised from HM Treasury. In that sense, the Scotland Bill could represent a significant milestone in the development of devolution in Scotland.

"However, despite the significance of the legislation and notwithstanding the fact that we welcome the introduction of the Bill, it is the committee’s view that the Scotland Bill as currently drafted is a missed opportunity and is not yet fit for purpose.”

Ms Fabiani added: “There are elements of the Bill which the whole committee can welcome.  However, overall, we believe that the Bill does not go far enough and its provisions, if enacted, represent a significant risk to public finances in Scotland.

“Our report concludes that whilst the Bill delivers a very limited amount of financial accountability, it does not deliver what Scotland needs, which is full fiscal autonomy.”

The committee’s report sets out in detail its views on the main parts of the Bill and the individual provisions, including whether the Scottish Parliament should give its consent to these as currently drafted.

The Scottish Parliament is likely to debate the committee’s report in the New Year and set out its view on legislative consent.


1. The committee makes 45 recommendations, which are set out in volume 1 of the report – see List of Recommendations.
2. While some of the measures in the Bill have the full backing of the eleven-strong committee, most recommendations reflect the majority-view position.  Of the 45 recommendations, there was dissent on 26 and division on a further 3.  Key areas of consensus include capital borrowing, the Crown Estate and the case for devolving air-passenger duty and aggregates levy.

3. A minority of four Members have set out their views in a 14-page minority report set out in Annex A in Volume 2 of the report.

4. A table summarising which recommendations were agreed unanimously or by a vote is included in volume 1 of the report.

5. An ‘at-a-glance guide’ is also included in volume 1 which helps draw comparisons between the increased powers as proposed by Westminster, the Calman Commission, the Steel Commission and the first and second Scotland Bill Committees.   

6. The committee met on 15 occasions since being established by the Parliament in June 2011. It received over 90 written submissions of evidence and heard from numerous witnesses. The committee also organised two informal sessions with the business community and a cross-section of organisations from ‘civic Scotland’.

7. Legislative Consent process – Westminster will not normally legislate with regard to devolved matters in Scotland without the consent of the Scottish Parliament. This includes not only devolved matters, but also matters which alter the legislative competence of the Parliament or the executive competence of the Scottish Ministers. 

Related links

  • 1st Report, 2011 (Session 4): Report on the Scotland Bill
  • Scotland Bill
  • Scotland Bill Committee  

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