UK government votes down Scotland Bill’s welfare amendments

Amendments to the Scotland Bill which would effectively give the Scottish Parliament the power to design its own welfare system have been rejected by the UK government.

A vote in the House of Commons yesterday followed a third day of debate on the legislation, which largely focused on welfare powers.

The SNP and Labour backed each other’s calls for Holyrood to have unrestricted power to create new benefits and top up existing ones – as well as seeking other changes.

But despite a written complaint from the Scottish Government that proposals from Scottish MPs were being ignored, Scottish secretary David Mundell insisted that the Scotland Bill lives up to the spirit of the Smith Commission’s recommendations.

The rejection comes after MPs voted against proposals made by the SNP for an “Economic Agreement” between the two governments which would eventually lead to full fiscal autonomy – by 504 votes to 58.

In addition, they voted against Labour’s proposal for an independent commission to examine the effects of full fiscal autonomy by 376 to 192.

Commenting on the Scotland Bill welfare vote, SNP Westminster Leader Angus Robertson MP said: “This was typical Tory arrogance – a single Tory MP refusing to listen to the representatives of the people of Scotland.

“We saw cross-party support on the Opposition benches for SNP amendments being voted down by a Tory government with a single MP in Scotland.

“At a time of savage cuts to the welfare state by the Tories – causing real hurt to hard working families and vulnerable people, and driving more and more people to food banks – the choice is between having welfare powers in Scotland’s hands, or leaving them in the hands of Iain Duncan Smith and George Osborne.”

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