SNP Predicts Queen's Speech 'Test'

27 May 2015, 10:29

The Queen's Speech will be an "early test'' of the Conservatives' pledge to implement the Smith Commission's proposals on more powers for Holyrood, the SNP's Westminster leader has said.


SNP Predicts Queen's Speech 'Test'

The Queen's Speech will be an "early test'' of the Conservatives' pledge to implement the Smith Commission's proposals on more powers for Holyrood, the SNP's Westminster leader has said.

Angus Robertson said there were "shortcomings'' on the draft clauses published earlier this year and he insisted the Scotland Bill - which is due to be published on Thursday - must live up to "both the spirit and the letter'' of the cross-party deal that was reached.

David Cameron has already held talks with Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on the issue, with the PM saying he had not ruled out making further changes if ''sensible suggestions'' are made.

Mr Robertson said the SNP, who now have 56 MPs at Westminster, would be the "real opposition to the Tories'' on this issue and others.

"In terms of more powers for Scotland, it is an early test of the UK Government's good faith that the Scotland Bill lives up to both the spirit and the letter of the Smith Commission,'' he said.

"The Scottish Government has already set out the shortcomings of the draft legislation published in January and submitted detailed amendments to the UK Government to bring their original proposals into line with Smith, so there can be no excuse.

"This is the first key test. As the First Minister agreed with David Cameron, the Scottish Government will also put forward proposals for a transfer of powers beyond Smith for discussion between the Scottish Secretary and the Deputy First Minister - for which half of Scotland's electorate voted. The people of Scotland have spoken and Westminster has a democratic duty to listen.''

He added: "In these and many more important areas, the real opposition to the Tories at Westminster is coming - and will continue to come - from the SNP.''

Downing Street has already said the programme of legislation that will be revealed in the speech will show it is "getting on with'' the work of delivering on the Tory election manifesto.

That will include a new Scotland Bill to give more powers to Holyrood. The package - the first from a Conservative-only administration for nearly two decades - is set to include a flagship Bill for a vote on European Union membership.

There are also expected to be controversial proposals for replacing the Human Rights Act with a bill of rights, reforming strike laws, curbing benefits and giving English MPs more say over measures that only affect England.

Mr Robertson said "opposing austerity will be at the heart of our response to the Tories' programme for government''.

He added: "Our priority is ending austerity and the damage it does to people's lives.

"The Tory Government's priority is ending human rights and we will work across party lines and with colleagues in the Scottish Parliament to stop them scrapping the Human Rights Act.

"Since the election, we have seen Labour U-turn to back the Tories on a European referendum - and support their ridiculous and discriminatory position of allowing some but not all EU nationals to vote.''

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