Division threat

‘Turbo-charged’ Scotland Office to get more powers

Ian Murray
Ian Murray: re-setting the relationship (pic: Terry Murden / DB Media Services)

Labour plans to strengthen the power of the Scotland Office in a move that threatens to increase tensions between Westminster and Holyrood.

Shadow Scotland Secretary Ian Murray will be handed more authority over job creation, energy supply, driving investment and exports.

The “turbo-charged” Scotland Office will be Scotland’s voice within the UK Government “to ensure decisions taken reflect the needs of Scotland”.

In a statement this morning, Mr Murray said the Scotland Office “will oversee investment in Scotland to create jobs, deliver economic growth and reduce poverty across Scotland. 

“Labour will reduce poverty by growing our economy and making work pay. This funding will help create jobs across the country and unlock opportunities across Scotland, especially in deprived communities which have been let down by the Tories and the SNP for too long.”

In a later, more moderate statement, issued half an hour later, Labour said it would look to “reset the relationship” with the Scottish Government.

“For too long Scots have been represented by two governments more interested in fighting each other than fighting for them. That needs to end,” says Mr Murray.

“The next UK Labour government will reset the relationship between the UK and Scottish Governments with new ways of working.”

Mr Murray outlined a series of constitutional reforms planned by Labour including:

• House of Lords reform with an immediate end to hereditary peers and a road map to a more representative second chamber

• Strengthening the Sewell convention with a new memorandum of understanding to outline how the UK and Scottish Government can work together

• Establishing a new Council of the Nations and regions which will bring together the Prime Minister, the First Ministers of Scotland and Wales, the First and deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland, and the Mayors of Combined Authorities

• Ensuring Members of the Scottish Parliament have the same free speech protections at Holyrood as MPs enjoy at Westminster, so that whether in Westminster or Holyrood, parliamentarians can hold power to account

• Support the Scottish Government to partner with international bodies where relevant and appropriate, for example to collaborate on global health initiatives.

“If we prioritise co-operation over conflict, we can deliver better results for the Scottish people,” said Mr Murray.

“That will require both governments to recognise and respect the legitimate role they both have in representing and delivering for the Scottish people.

“A UK Labour government with Scottish Labour MPs at its heart will look to deliver for the change Scotland needs, and we’ll work with the Scottish Government to do so.”

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