THE Scottish Parliament should be given more powers over immigration while the voting age should be cut permanently to 16, according to the Free Church of Scotland.

In its submission to the Smith Commission on Scottish devolution, set up after last month's independence referendum, the Free Church calls for more powers over abortion, alcohol and gambling to be devolved.

It says the Free Church recognises there is no clear Biblical basis for its views, but adds: "The case of immigration policy, however, is perhaps an exception to our general approach since the emphasis of the Bible is clearly to offer succour to victims and to welcome and look after the stranger in our midst.

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"We are very conscious of the imperative to welcome all the refugees including our fellow Christians from Syria and Iraq and we recognise there may be more opportunity to have them in Scotland, where the population distribution in much of the land is sparser than in the south of England."

It adds: "We believe that within a UK immigration policy Scotland offers an opportunity for regional variation."

The Church submission says it is puzzling that we let people marry at the age of 16 year but are hesitant to give them a vote.

It says: "We believe an interesting by-product of the referendum debate is to consider making this change in the voting age a permanent feature of politics in Scotland - and, dare we say it, in the rest of the UK."

It also says the Free Church cannot think of any good reason for devolving health but reserving policy on abortion.

The Free Church applauded the way smoking is tackled in Scotland tackled and said it would like to see the Scottish Government take charge of "gambling and alcohol in their entirety".