NUS Scotland has welcomed the recommendations for further devolution outlined in the Smith Commission report, but called for a citizen-led constitutional convention to ensure we test these powers, and how they are used, against the will of the Scottish people. Equally, the powers do not go far enough in certain areas, and must be strengthened.
The powers outlined, and which NUS Scotland has been calling for, include: the ability to introduce Votes at 16; additional powers over income tax; the ability to introduce fair representation on public bodies; and, additional powers over certain welfare benefits.
NUS Scotland is calling on all parties to ensure Scottish society leads the next steps to maximise these powers, and how they’re used and also to go further, including on immigration and the ability to allow international students to remain in Scotland, post-graduation, to work.
Commenting on the Smith Commission report, Gordon Maloney, president of NUS Scotland, said:
“The independence referendum gave us a clear result, but it’s equally clear that people on all sides were voting for change. While they could have gone further, these recommendations are a positive step forward for the powers the Scottish Parliament should have. We must now test these proposals against the will of the people, through a citizens-led constitutional convention, so that we can now build the new Scotland and the new democracy we need to see.
“It’s great to see further powers for the Scottish Parliament over votes at 16. Young people across Scotland campaigned for, and then proved the worth of, lowering the voting age, and it’s a proud moment for students, NUS Scotland and young people to see this delivered for Scottish elections. Equally, it’s great to see some further powers over equalities issues, and the ability to ensure fair representation on our public bodies, income tax and welfare – all powers NUS Scotland have called for. We must now see these powers used to shape Scotland into a more equal and more progressive society. There’s also additional areas we need to explore, such as the further possibilities for immigration, particularly around post-study work visas for international students.
“The referendum produced a huge democratic renewal in Scotland and we can’t let politicians lock the people out of what happens next. We saw an unprecedented 85% turnout in the referendum, and it was among the most inspirational debates we’ve seen in Scotland’s history. We must now see the people, not simply politicians, lead the next steps for Scotland. We’ll be working with STUC, SCVO and others across civil society for a citizens-led constitutional convention to test these proposals against the will of the Scottish people.”