MSPs Meet Mundell For Powers Talks

MSPs are to meet new Scottish Secretary David Mundell to discuss their concerns about plans to extend Holyrood's powers.

A cross-party group from the Scottish Parliament's Devolution Committee will hold talks with Mr Mundell after a report last week said the draft clauses that had been put forward by the previous UK government did not meet with ''the spirit or the substance'' of the Smith Commission's recommendations.

Committee convener Bruce Crawford will lead the delegation, which will also include SNP MSP Linda Fabiani and Labour's Lewis Macdonald.

Speaking ahead of the talks, which will take place at the Scotland Office in London, Mr Crawford said: "I am pleased that the new Secretary of State for Scotland has found time so early in his new role to meet with this cross-party delegation from the committee.

"I am looking forward to discussing our balanced and constructive report with him. Given the report was agreed by all five political parties represented on the committee, I am sure he will take our findings extremely seriously.''

The Smith Commission, which was set up in the wake of last year's independence referendum, proposed giving a range of new powers to Holyrood, including greater control over income tax and some responsibility for welfare and benefits.

But Mr Crawford said last week the draft clauses would not be recommended for legislative consent by the Scottish Parliament in their present state, claiming that the "currently proposed legislation sells Smith short''.

The former Scottish Government minister said: "Given the recent comments from the Prime Minister following his meeting with the First Minister last week, we will be keen to find out how the UK Government plans to respond to ensure that the new Scotland Bill introduced after the Queen's Speech fully meets the spirit and substance of the Smith Commission's report.''

David Cameron has already said he could consider ''sensible suggestions'' on what further powers could be transferred north.

The Prime Minister, who met Nicola Sturgeon on Friday, said afterwards that Westminster would "look again at welfare and make sure the clauses reflect what that agreement was''.

He said: "The First Minister wants to send some proposals for me to look at and I'm happy to examine proposals, there's going to be a debate, of course there will be a debate.

"I don't rule out making other changes if sensible suggestions are made.''

A Scotland Office spokesman said: "The Secretary of State for Scotland looks forward to meeting the delegation at the Scotland Office.

"The UK Government is clear it is committed to delivering more devolved powers through the package outlined by the cross-party Smith Commission. We will work to bring forward a Scotland Bill on this basis and ensure the Scottish Parliament becomes one of the most powerful devolved parliaments in the world. The Secretary of State has also been clear there will be a full parliamentary discussion of these issues where differing views can be heard.''

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