SCOTTISH Labour leader Jim Murphy is opposed to plans to devolve abortion to Holyrood, despite cross-party support for transferring control of the power to Edinburgh.

The MP, who broadly reflects the concerns of his party on the issue, believes the law on terminations should continue to be a matter for Westminster.

In 1997, control of abortion was included on a provisional list of powers for the Scottish Parliament, until the then-Prime Minister Tony Blair blocked the move.

The Smith Commission, set up in the wake of the independence referendum to flesh out extra powers for Holyrood, looked at the issue anew and secured the support of the Conservatives, Liberal Democrats, SNP and Scottish Greens.

Only Labour, whose senior figures fear that the Parliament could chip away at women's right to choose, opposed devolving abortion to MSPs.

In the end, the Commission agreed the principle of transferring the power but noted that it required additional discussion.

"The parties are strongly of the view to recommend the ­devolution of abortion and regard it as an anomalous health reservation. They agree that further serious consideration should be given to its devolution and a process should be established immediately to consider the matter further," the final report stated.

During the Scottish Labour leadership contest, however, Murphy came out against devolving abortion.

All three candidates were asked by the Abortion Rights Committee Scotland - a pro-choice campaign group - for their views on terminations.

Two weeks before the Smith Commission reported, Murphy wrote to ARCS: "I do not believe that the laws on abortion should be devolved to the Scottish Parliament."

At a party hustings in Glasgow, he repeated his view: "Personally ... I don't think it should be devolved to the Scottish Parliament. I think it should remain reserved to the House of Commons."

At the same debate, Murphy described himself as "pro-choice", adding: "I am a Catholic, but on this issue I don't agree with the ­teachings of my church."

The MP has been absent when attempts have been made by MPs to restrict abortion rights.

In 2006, he did not vote in a debate on a Bill that tried to reduce the time limit for the legal termination of pregnancies from 24 to 21 weeks.

In 2008, during consideration of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill, Murphy was absent from a series of votes on reducing the limit to 22, 20, 16 and 12 weeks,

Over 85% of Labour MPs participated in the vote on 22 weeks.

Scottish Green MSP Patrick Harvie said: "My own instinct is to see abortion as a normal part of the health service, and to want it treated no differently. However, I know that there are strong views for and against devolution in this area, and I'm content to listen to those views before any final decision. I would urge Mr Murphy to do the same, as his party agreed to do when the Smith report was agreed."

An SNP spokesperson said: "We believe that this and indeed all powers currently held at Westminster should be transferred to the Scottish Parliament - and a recent poll showed that a majority of people in Scotland want Holyrood to decide everything apart from defence and foreign affairs, which was basically the SNP ­submission to the Smith Commission. Jim Murphy must explain his own ­position and that of his party."

A spokesperson for Scottish Labour said: "Views on abortion are a matter of conscience and never a matter of party politics. The Labour Party said during the Smith Commission negotiations that they did not support the devolution of abortion law as we believe there should be no difference in the regulations that apply throughout the UK. That is Mr Murphy's position."