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New powers devolved to Holyrood will ‘help keep Scots safe’

Scottish Secretary Michael Moore has said the transfer of powers over air weapons, drink-driving and speed limits from Westminster to Holyrood will allow Scottish Ministers to make decisions that are responsive to Scotland’s needs.

 

The new powers are being announced today at Westminster in the Scotland Bill, which will also give Holyrood more tax and borrowing powers.

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The measures are in response to the recommendations in the Calman Commission on Scottish Devolution and are backed by Labour, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats.

Mr Moore, speaking yesterday on a visit to Lothian and Borders Police headquarters in Edinburgh, said the new responsibilities would mean more flexibility for Scotland’s police forces.

It would allow them “to create national strategies to keep Scots safe when it comes to air weapons, drink-driving and speed limits”, he said.

The SNP Government and previous Labour-LibDem executive pressed for more power over firearms after the death of two-year-old Andrew Morton five years ago.

He was killed by an airgun pellet shot by Mark Bonini, 27, in Glasgow’s east end.

Bonini was jailed for at least 13 years and since then UK legislation on air weapons has been tightened. The minimum age for owning an airgun has risen from 17 to 18, mail-order sales have been banned and retailers must now be registered.

Although now giving Scotland responsibility for air weapons, Westminster will control the power to license other types of firearms. This, UK Ministers say, will ensure a consistent approach.

Among the other law-enforcement powers set to be announced today are responsibility over drink-driving and speed limits by amending the Road Traffic Acts. The powers are expected to be in place by 2015.

The SNP said the Calman recommendations “short-change” Scotland and publicised a letter signed by 18 businessmen and economists calling for a “greater debate” on future powers.

Party spokeswoman Linda Fabiani said: “The Tories, aided and abetted by Labour and the LibDems, are about to introduce legislation which will result in Scotland being worse off. Tory, Labour and LibDem MSPs must listen to these respected voices and open up the debate over full fiscal powers. The truth is that the Tory tax plan simply falls short of what Scotland needs.”

Tory leader Annabel Goldie welcomed the bill.

She said: “As we saw in another poll this weekend, independence is a minority aspiration.

“Scotland wants devolution and Scotland needs devolution to work.”

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