New powers coming to the Scottish Parliament

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Today (Monday) marks a major milestone in the transfer of new powers to the Scottish Parliament, as the first law-making powers transfer from Westminster to Holyrood under the Scotland Act 2016.

Politicians at Holyrood will be able to legislate on new areas, including speed limits, road signs and gaming machines.

Secretary of State for Scotland David Mundell said: “The Scotland Act 2016 delivers the Smith Commission in full and makes the Scottish Parliament one of the most powerful devolved administrations in the world.

“This is an important milestone in delivering these new powers, and gives the Scottish Parliament the ability to legislate in a number of important areas.

“Significant powers over tax and welfare will follow.

“Crucially, these powers will be transferred while maintaining the benefits of a single labour market, pensions and the sharing of risk that comes with Scotland’s position in our United Kingdom.

“Scotland has two governments, each with different but complementary responsibilities.

“I have made clear that I want to work closely with the Scottish Government’s new ministerial team to work together in the national interest for the benefit of people in Scotland.”

With the transfer of powers the Scottish Parliament will become responsible for legislation on:

Abortion

Consumer advocacy and advice

Equal opportunities – for example, deciding whether Scotland’s public sector boards should be required to be gender balanced

Gaming machines – specifically controls on fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs) in licenced high street bookmakers

Parking – preventing inconsiderate parking, for example on pavements

Policing of railways in Scotland

Speed limits

Traffic signs

The following bodies will have to provide their annual reports to Scottish Ministers to lay before the Scottish Parliament; and will be obliged to appear before the Scottish Parliament if it requests it:

Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem)

Office of Communications (Ofcom)

Northern Lighthouse Board

In addition, Scottish ministers will be able to:

Make appointments to MG Alba – appointments become the responsibility solely of Scottish Government ministers

Decide whether public sector operators can bid for new Scottish rail franchises

Make references to the Competition and Markets Authority

Commence the public sector duty regarding socio-economic inequalities

Plus, the Sewel convention is placed on a statutory footing.

Additional new powers (including on tax, welfare, Air Passenger Duty, and the licensing of onshore oil and gas extraction) will be implemented at later dates.

For Income Tax rates and thresholds this will be April 2017, and for Air Passenger Duty April 2018.

The UK and Scottish government are currently working together on the transfer of welfare powers, which will be overseen by the Joint Ministerial Working Group on Welfare.