A significant number of new welfare powers came into force this September, and give the Scottish Parliament new choices over welfare in Scotland. The joint ministerial working group on welfare, which includes Scottish Ministers, met yesterday to continue its important and constructive work overseeing the transfer of remaining powers.
With that significant transfer of powers from the UK Government to Edinburgh, does my right hon. Friend agree that the Scottish Government should get on with exercising those powers for the sake of the welfare of the people of Scotland, rather than wasting time on expensive and unnecessary talk of a second independence referendum?
I absolutely agree. These are significant powers, which the Scottish Government and the Scottish National party in this House asked for. People around Scotland will want to see how they are being deployed and what process is being used. The message from the people of Scotland generally to the Scottish Government is “Get on with the day job.”
We have made it absolutely clear that we will respect that desire for the programmes to proceed on a voluntary basis. What I think the people of Scotland will want to know is what the Scottish Government intend to do in relation to people who do not volunteer to be part of the programmes.