New Powers For Holyrood

New powers over equality laws, consumer advice, and transport will be used as quickly as possible after being transferred to Holyrood today, Constitution Secretary Derek Mackay has said.

Mr Mackay said the Scottish Government will press ahead with its plans to legislate on gender balance on the boards of public bodies.

It will also allow public sector operators to bid for future rail franchises, integrate the British Transport Police into Police Scotland, and develop a consumer and competition strategy.

The powers - over areas including abortion, consumer advocacy and advice, equal opportunities, gaming machines, parking, speed limits, and policing of railways - are the first to be transferred to the Scottish Parliament from Westminster under the Scotland Act 2016.

Control over income tax and enhanced borrowing powers will come to Holyrood in 2017, while a new devolved air passenger duty will take effect in 2018.

Social security powers which are being devolved will also be transferred at a later date.

Mr Mackay said: "The Scotland Act sees the most substantial change to the powers of the Parliament since devolution.

"Reflecting our priorities, we are already working to use these powers as quickly as possible, to tackle inequality and create a fairer, more prosperous country.

"That includes our plans to promote equality by legislating for gender balance on the boards of public bodies.

"Our consumer and competition strategy will take account of Scotland's geographic, social and economic circumstances.

"We will use the newly-devolved consumer powers to develop a robust system which protects and empowers consumers and supports businesses which are innovative, efficient and fair. And we will also remove employment tribunals fees that act as a barrier to justice.

"On transport, we'll allow public sector operators to bid for future rail franchises and integrate the British Transport Police into Police Scotland, while retaining the specialisms that are highly valued by the rail industry and passengers.

"And we will look to attract more international flights to Scotland, boosting investment and jobs, by reforming Air Passenger Duty, which under the UK Government is one of the highest taxes of its kind in the world.''

Scottish Secretary David Mundell said: "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.''


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