Miliband: More Powers For Scotland

9 May 2014, 16:54

Ed Miliband has pledged to hand "crucial'' new powers to the Scottish Parliament if he is elected prime minister next year.

With less than a year to go to the next UK general election, the Labour leader said he was "determined'' to bring his party back to power across the UK.

He used a visit to Dundee to announce a new "contract'' with the people of Scotland - five key pledges that he vowed Labour would deliver in its first batch of legislation.

Central to that is a commitment to introduce a new Scotland Act to devolve further powers north to Holyrood.

It comes after Labour's  devolution commission recommended Scotland get more responsibility over income tax, including the ability to increase the higher rates - along with powers over housing benefit and the work programme.

Mr Miliband said: "We are the people who will give more power to the Scottish Parliament and can have the best of both worlds, which is a Scottish Parliament and the strength and security and social justice that the United Kingdom can bring, if we can elect a Labour government which is what I'm determined to do.''

With Scots to decide if the country should stay in the UK or not in September's independence referendum, concerns have been raised that a Yes vote could make it harder for Labour to be elected into power at Westminster.

But the Labour leader, who was visiting the Michelin tyre factory in Dundee, said the issue was "much bigger'' than that.

"This isn't about that happens to one party if there's a Yes vote,'' he said.

"This is about something much bigger than that, which is are we going to be a United Kingdom with Scotland in it.

"Personally I think the rest of the United Kingdom benefits massively from Scotland's presence. If you think about our historic achievements, whether it's the NHS or the minimum wage or workers' rights, they came about in part because of Scottish figures, the Scottish political movement.

"So I believe the rest of the United Kingdom wants Scotland to stay.  I also happen to believe its in Scotland's interests to stay. In the end that's a decision for the people of Scotland.''

Mr Miliband said he was "very proud'' it was a Labour government that  had established the Scottish Parliament and added: "I'm very very proud we have committed to extend the powers, especially over crucial issues like tax, housing benefit, the work programme.''