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Thursday, 22 January 2015

David Cameron: New powers for Scotland, built to last, securing a united future

The Prime Minister, David Cameron, will be in Scotland later today as the Government publishes draft clauses to deliver on its promise for extensive new powers to Scotland. The clauses, to be published in a Command Paper, follow Scotland’s decisive vote to remain part of the UK, and the vow by the three pro-union parties for further powers for the Scottish Parliament. Today’s draft clauses will implement the historic all-party agreement reached in November, with the legislation being published several days ahead of schedule.During the visit, the Prime Minister will meet with the First Minister, join a further meeting between Government Ministers and representatives of the oil and gas industry and visit businesses in Scotland.

Speaking at an event to mark the publication of the legislation, the Prime Minister is expected to say: "In September the people of Scotland came out in record numbers to decide the future of the United Kingdom. They voted clearly and decisively to keep our family of nations together. But a ‘no’ vote did not mean ‘no change’. The leaders of the other main political parties and I promised extensive new powers for the Scottish Parliament – a vow – with a clear process and timetable. We said a command paper would be ready by the end of October – and it was. We said we’d get cross-party agreement by St. Andrew’s Day – and we did. We said draft legislation would be published by Burns Night – and here we are, three days before the celebrations start, with those clauses before us. I pay tribute to the leadership of Robert Smith for this historic agreement and with all five of Scotland’s main political parties at the table, it was a devolution first. And now, here we have it: New powers for Scotland, built to last, securing our united future."

Outlining the extensive new powers, he is expected to say: "Be in no doubt, whoever forms the UK Government after May 7th, these new powers are guaranteed. The Scottish Parliament will have more control of its tax and spending – making it one of the most powerful devolved parliaments in the world. The Scottish Parliament will combine the freedom to decide what happens in Scotland’s schools, hospitals, surgeries and police stations and the responsibility of determining how around 60 per cent of public money in Scotland is spent because – for the first time – the majority of the money the Scottish Parliament spends will be raised right here in Scotland. This includes a substantial new package of welfare powers – worth £2.5 billion – to tackle long term unemployment, disability and poverty. We’ve already moved to allow the Scottish Parliament to extend its franchise so 16 and 17 year olds could vote at the 2016 Holyrood elections and here we are stating in law the permanence of the Scottish Parliament – so there can never be any question: Holyrood is here to stay.”

He will also underline how by remaining as part of the UK, Scotland has the best of both worlds: "When the people of Scotland voted to remain part of the United Kingdom, it wasn’t just about the future of devolution, it was because they valued the safety and security of being part of something bigger – our family of nations. A strong, stable single currency delivering lower costs for families and businesses. A shared army, air force and navy keeping us safe in an increasingly dangerous world. A large domestic market providing more job and investment opportunities. A resilient social union, sharing the costs of pensions and support for those who have fallen on hard times across our nations. All within a healthy, strong economy – one of the fastest-growing economies in the developed world. This is what we meant by the best of both worlds: A strong Scotland, with its own identity and its own powers – all within the safety and security of the UK."