Scotland Bill

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So the fiscal framework has been agreed. Or has the can just been kicked down the road? Both interpretations are consistent with last week’s last-minute agreement between the Scottish and UK governments. There is now no significant obstacle to the passage of the Scotland Bill. As a result the Scottish Parliament will take control over the setting of the rates and bands of income tax from 2017 and a raft of welfare powers will be introduced when the administrative arrangements can be made.
 
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David Cameron’s proposed areas for renegotiation have implications for the Scottish Government, a situation that will increase once the Scotland Bill is passed.

The distinct Scottish interest in the European renegotiation and referendum can be seen under two headings. The first concerns matters reserved under the devolution settlement to the UK Government but where Scottish interests and preferences may be distinct. The second concerns devolved matters that also have a European dimension. This produces a potentially long list of questions.

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The proposals within the Scotland Bill - as well as the associated fiscal framework currently being worked out by the UK and Scottish Governments - represent big changes to Scotland’s political system, says Nicola McEwen. However, has enough room been left for the public at the negotiating table? 
 
“With great power comes great responsibility” – in Uncle Ben’s memorable last words to Spiderman. But is the reverse also true? Do great responsibilities bring great power?
 
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The devolution of welfare benefits to Scotland, especially those relating to disabled people and carers, provides an opportunity to transform the way Scotland approaches welfare and care policy says Kirstein Rummery. 

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The influence of the SNP at Westminster is yet to be truly measured, says Nicola McEwen, but the Scotland Bill may demonstrate that real change is achieved behind the scenes. 
 
It was 27 years ago when the Jim Sillars, flush from winning the Govan by-election for the SNP, taunted Scottish Labour MPs for being the ‘feeble fifty’, unable to defend Scotland against the excesses of Thatcherism. As the Westminster parliament begins its summer recess, we can reflect on what, if anything, the 56 SNP MPs have been able to achieve.  
 
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