ACADEMICS have criticised proposed legislation that would transfer sweeping new powers to Holyrood, with one labelling the draft legislation "gobbledegook".

Articles for the independent Future of UK and Scotland project also refuted David Cameron's claims that the settlement outlined this week was the "resting place" for devolution and fulfilled 'The Vow' made ahead of the independence referendum.

Robert Gordon University professor Paul Spicker said he believed the UK Government is preparing to impose fines on Scotland if it does not comply with Westminster benefit rules similar to the situation in Northern Ireland.

He wrote: "In its relations with Northern Ireland the Treasury has sought to impose fines on the Assembly for the presumed cost of non-compliance with Westminster rules. They are preparing the way here to do the same to Scotland... It all falls some way short of even the rather restricted settlement in Smith. This is not what was promised."

Malcolm Harvey, from the University of Aberdeen, said a system that required the agreement of both Holyrood and Westminster, as the SNP have claimed is set out in the clauses, "might prove detrimental to effective governance."

"The final details of legislation will still require substantial consideration - and with the likelihood of substantially greater numbers of SNP MPs taking seats in the House of Commons after May, this is unlikely to be the end of the story," he said.

Craig McAngus, at the University of Stirling, said: "More opinion polling and in-depth survey work needs to be carried out in order to explore this issue further, but, in short, the UK Government cannot justifiably claim that what is being offered is the 'settled will' of the Scottish people."

Meanwhile, the SNP called on Labour and the Liberal Democrats to join its calls for Westminster's proposals over welfare to be strengthened. The party has said welfare provisions contained in the draft clauses"represent a significant watering down of what was promised by the Smith Commission", claiming they do not enable the Scottish Parliament to create new benefit entitlements in devolved areas and will also see the UK Government hold a veto in devolved areas.

The Liberal Democrats hit back, accusing the SNP of a "desperate attempt to sabotage the Vow". A party spokeswoman said: "The nationalists know the majority of people want real home rule but they will say and do anything to achieve their independence plans. There is no veto. Like the boy who cried wolf, the SNP may well find that people quickly tire of false alarms."