Scottish Government to refuse its assent to the Welfare Bill – referred to Health Committee

Welfare reform debate

Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon told MSPs welfare should be devolved to Holyrood, in a debate on 5 October 2011.

The UK government published a Welfare Reform Bill earlier this year which is set to mark the biggest overhaul of the benefits system since the 1940s.

Ms Sturgeon said while the issue is a reserved matter “welfare policy impacts on a range of devolved responsibilities – health, social care, employability, services for vulnerable people.”

She continued: “the deep and damaging cuts to welfare spending announced by the Chancellor in his June and October budgets last year will hurt the poorest” and “the consequences of the damage will fall to the Scottish Government and others to pick up.”

Scottish Labour Health Spokesperson, Jackie Baille said the reform bill as it stands was the biggest attack on the disabled in our lifetime but also suggested the SNP was yet to provide any answers.

Ms Baillie said: “I will stand shoulder to shoulder with any party to challenge the UK Government’s welfare reform agenda that attacks the very poorest members of our society. But equally I will challenge the SNP to meet their responsibilities too.”

Mary Scanlon, the Conservative health spokesperson stressed that the bill is just “at the start of the process”.

She said “simplifying the system and making it easier to get support has to be a good thing “.

Ms Scanlon said currently the system is open to widespread abuse which costs the taxpayer £5 billion per year.

Liberal Democrat MSP Liam McArthur said he didn’t accept this bill represented “the dismantling of the welfare state” as some were suggesting.

He highlighted the need radical overhaul and said “tinkering around the edge of a broken system is not going to do the job”.

Ms Sturgeon saw her amended motion passed with 104 MSPs voting for it and 16 voting against at decision time.

The amendment from Scottish Labour’s Jackie Baillie, which added that, subject to consideration by the appropriate committees, the forthcoming legislative consent motion pertaining to the Welfare Reform Bill should be opposed, was agreed to with 104 MSPs backing it and 16 against it.

Scottish Conservative MSP Mary Scanlon and Scottish Liberal Democrat MSP Liam McArthur saw their amendments fall.


  • John October 6, 2011 at 3:50 pm

    “Ms Scanlon said currently the system is open to widespread abuse which costs the taxpayer £5 billion per year.” FACTUALLY INCORRECT!



  • dwpexamination October 11, 2011 at 8:12 pm

    This Bill is little more than an attack on the weakest members of society, I can not understand the Labour Partys lack of opposition to this awful Bill in the UK, that is unless they have an alterior motive, whatever that may be I do not know, however, if they require the disabled vote at the next election then I suggest they do as thier colleagues in Scotland have done and oppose this Bill untill it has been properly debated and amended

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