Delay to Bill on New Scots Powers Urged by Second Lords Panel

  • Panel echoes previous report's concern over Scottish funding
  • Upper chamber scheduled to give second reading to bill Tuesday

A second committee of the U.K.’s House of Lords called for a delay to legislation to give more powers to Scotland’s semi-autonomous government because of uncertainty over future funding arrangements.

In a report published in London Monday, the Constitution Committee of the unelected upper house called on lawmakers to considering postponing full examination of the details of the Scotland Bill. It echoed a call from the Lords economic-affairs panel on Friday for a delay until lawmakers can scrutinize the new framework covering Scottish tax-raising, borrowing and spending powers that’s being negotiated between the Scottish and U.K. governments. The bill has its second reading in the upper house Tuesday.

U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron’s government agreed to grant more autonomy to Scotland after last year’s referendum on independence, in which 45 percent of Scots backed ending the three centuries-old union. Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said last month she’ll demand a new vote if there’s “strong evidence” from opinion polls that a majority of Scots are in favor of leaving the U.K.

“We are concerned that the house is being asked to debate and scrutinize the bill without the necessary information,” the chairman of the Constitution Committee, Ian Lang, said in a statement. “The bill creates serious risks of future disputes and instability.”

In last week’s report, the economic panel said a decision to devolve almost all income-tax revenue in Scotland to the authorities in Edinburgh as well as virtually full power to set the rate had been done with “undue haste” and too little assessment of the consequences. It also urged the U.K. and Scotland to agree on “simple and clear borrowing rules and a maximum ceiling on Scottish government debt” as a no-bailout rule would not be credible to financial markets.

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