Scotland Bill

The Scotland Bill, implementing (some of) the recommendations of the Calman Report (see previously here), received its first reading in the House of Commons at Westminster on 30 November 2010.

The most significant parts of the Bill are probably those dealing with the tax powers over and above those which the Scottish Government has mysteriously lost since 2007 through not keeping up payments to HMRC (see here for the mystery, which ensures that whichever government is next elected in Scotland will have no tax-raising power until 2013-2014).  These parts of the new Bill (clauses 24-31) seem likely to hog media attention as it progresses through Westminster.

For Scots Law News, the greatest interest lies in the loss of devolved control over corporate insolvency matters (clause 12), and in the absence of any provision to make charities law a reserved matter (contrary to Calman recommendations which still seem slightly puzzling to this observer).

One is also relieved to note that the Scottish Parliament is to lose its power to legislate in relation to Antarctica (clause 14).  One imagines that they talk of little else at Holyrood, especially when the snow begins to fall.  For some entertaining suggestions as how the Scottish Parliament should use its hitherto unsuspected competence in these matters in the few days left to it to do so, see Absolvitor here.  Lallands Peat Worrier claims to have uncovered the truth behind the provision: Bill Aitken MSP had a plan to mark his swansong in the Parliament with a Bill for the benefit of the Antarctica penguins but now Whitehall has headed him off.