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Fiscal Framework Agreement

Volume 669: debated on Wednesday 8 January 2020

1. What recent assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the 2016 fiscal framework agreement between the Government and the Scottish Government. (900085)

I welcome you to your new role, Mr Speaker, and give you my very best wishes for 2020.

The UK Government continue to work closely with the Scottish Government to implement the fiscal framework agreed in February 2016. I pay tribute to my right hon. Friend the Member for Chelsea and Fulham (Greg Hands), who played his part in that agreement. A review of the arrangements is due in 2021.

I also welcome you to your position, Mr Speaker, and the new Secretary of State to his. One of the interesting features of the negotiations was that the venue alternated between London and Edinburgh, which might be an idea for other negotiations that are about to start. The fiscal framework, combined with the Scotland Act 2016, helped create possibly the most powerful devolved Parliament anywhere in the world. Could the Secretary of State tell us, however, what the consequences of fiscal devolution have been for Scottish taxpayers?

My right hon. Friend is absolutely right: the Scottish Parliament is the most powerful devolved Parliament in the world, and with those tax powers it is much more accountable than was previously the case. However, I regret its decision to make Scotland the most highly taxed part of the United Kingdom.

May I also welcome you to the Chair, Mr Speaker, and the Secretary of State and the Minister to their positions?

The 2016 framework was established before we knew what the impact of Brexit would be. The world has changed. Consideration will now have to be given to what powers pass from Brussels not just to Whitehall and Westminster but to Holyrood. This gives the Secretary of State an opportunity to reach out, cross-party, and to establish a proper future framework on what powers should rightly be with the Scottish Parliament and Government. He also has to take responsibility for ensuring that a financial package goes with those new powers.

In the spending round, there is an extra £1.2 billion for Scotland. That is quite clear. Discussions on frameworks are ongoing and are proving to be successful. Not a single power is being taken away from the Scottish Parliament as we come out of the European Union. If anyone can think of one, they should write and tell me because, on the contrary, the Scottish Parliament will have more powers after we leave the European Union.