UK's Main Parties Agree to Grant More Powers to Scotland

World | November 27, 2014, Thursday // 15:14|  views

UK Prime Minister David Cameron giving a speech after September 18 Scottish independence referendum. Photo: EPA/BGNES

The main parties in the UK have achieved an agreement on the devolution of further powers to the Scottish Parliament.

The move had been promised by the three main parties (Conservative, Labour, Liberal-Democrats) days before September 18 independence referendum held in Scotland, which resulted in a 55-45 % vote in favour of staying in the UK.

The deal was announced on Thursday, but it will not be implemented until the general elections that will be held in 2015.

The proposal will amount to the biggest transfer of powers from London to Edinburgh since the Scottish Parliament was established in 1999.

The unionist parties believe that this step will suffice Scotland's appetite for independence and will attract some of the voters, who are increasingly turning to the pro-independence Scottish National Party after the referendum.

The proposals include granting Scotland power to set income tax rates, influence welfare spending and decide how the Scottish Parliament and other devolved institutions are selected and run.

Scotland would get the income from the taxes it raises with an adjustment in the spending currently made from London.

Scotland is also to be granted more borrowing powers, but these are yet to be agreed with the UK government.

Prime Minister David Cameron expressed his satisfaction with the deal, saying that the unionist parties had kept to their promises.

However there are signs that the nationalists are not fully satisfied with the proposal, as it did not go far enough, although it recognised Scotland's right to seek independence.

The Scottish National Party has declared that it might initiate another independence referendum if the UK votes in favour of leaving the European Union at the 2017 referendum, which had been promised by David Cameron in case he is re-elected at next year's general election.

The deal which has been estimated to be worth around GBP 11 billion will lead to the biggest shake-up of the UK's taxation system, the Guardian reports.

Apart from the transfer of income tax powers, the concessions will also include welfare powers, including the housing elements of universal care, attendance and carers allowance, work programme and winter fuel payments, and air passenger duty.

However the personal tax allowance, the amount of income people can earn before paying tax, will remain a reserved matter of the UK Parliament.

Representatives of English local government, including London's mayor Boris Johnson have requested that devolution should not be limited only to Scotland and called for similar measures in England.

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Tags: UK, Scotland, independence, Referendum, devolution, power


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