Tue 21 Jun, 2011

For immediate release 21 June 2011

At today's first meeting of the Scottish Parliament Committee considering the UK Government's Scotland Bill, legislation which would move more powers to Holyrood, Green MSP Alison Johnstone set out two additional areas where further devolution should be considered. The first proposal covers higher education governance, currently overseen by the Privy Council, despite the remainder of the higher education sector being a matter for the Scottish Parliament.

Secondly, the party believes that the power companies' responsibilities to their customers and to tackle climate change - both through the current CERT scheme and any successors to it - should be devolved to Scotland, especially given the cross-party consensus that more should be done on energy efficiency. Greens argue that both these areas of policy should be governed by the Scottish Parliament and Scottish Ministers, and that these changes could be implemented through amendments to the Scotland Bill.

Alison Johnstone MSP said:

"The Scotland Bill will never go as far as we would like, but these are two small areas where it certainly makes no sense for Westminster to continue to control Scotland's affairs. Why should almost all of our higher education sector be governed here in Scotland, yet decisions taken by university administrations are still signed off by the Privy Council, one of the least democratic parts of the British Government? Scottish oversight here would make far more sense, especially as universities decide how to respond to serious financial pressure, and as courses start to be closed.

"On energy, we argued in the last session that Scottish Ministers should have brought in a universal home energy efficiency scheme. It could have been delivered with their existing powers, but it would be much more straightforward to implement if the power companies' responsibilities in Scotland, based on the contribution of their Scottish customers, were governed by the Scottish Parliament.

"It's early days for the Scotland Bill Committee, but I am hopeful that colleagues from all parties will see the merits of these proposals, and that, whatever the Committee recommends, UK Ministers will take seriously the views of the Scottish Parliament when finalising the Bill itself."

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