Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 28 August 2014

PM urged to improve Scotland Bill

Alex Salmond's SNP secured an unprecedented victory by taking a majority of seats in the Scottish Parliament election

The Prime Minister has been asked to reappraise his position on Scotland`s financial and constitutional future following a landslide victory for the SNP.

Scottish Finance Secretary John Swinney said his leader Alex Salmond, who has been returned as First Minister with the first parliamentary majority in Holyrood history, told the Prime Minister that the SNP`s resounding victory was a game changer.

Mr Swinney told BBC Radio Scotland`s Good Morning Scotland programme: "The First Minister made clear yesterday his intention to discuss with the Prime Minister the importance of recognising the difference that yesterday's result produces for Scotland.

"The difference is the people of Scotland have made it very clear that they want to see progress made on the questions of economic opportunity in Scotland, and on constitutional progress.

"The short term opportunity to do that is by improving and strengthening the Scotland Bill, currently going through the UK parliament, and that is the message that the First Minister gave to the Prime Minister."

The Scotland Bill is designed to give Scotland greater financial accountability, but the SNP has argued it does not give the Scottish Government sufficient levers to grow Scotland`s economy.

The Bill passed its final stage in Holyrood in the last term and is currently being debated at Westminster, but Mr Cameron has been told the outcome of the Scottish election should have a bearing on the outcome of these deliberations.

Mr Swinney said: "I think the Prime Minister and the UK government have got to, if they have the slightest bit of seriousness about the respect agenda, to respect not the Scottish Government, but respect the Scottish people. And the people of Scotland have delivered an astonishingly clear and comprehensive outcome to the election campaign by returning the SNP to government with an absolute majority."

Meanwhile, Tavish Scott resigned as leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats after the party's heavy defeat in the Holyrood elections.

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