The Scotland Act 2016 is an act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It sets out amendments to the Scotland Act 1998 and devolves further powers to Scotland. The legislation is based on recommendations given by the report of the Smith Commission, which was established on 19 September 2014 in the wake of the Scottish independence referendum.
The act recognises the Scottish Parliament and a Scottish Government as permanent among UK's constitutional arrangements, with a referendum required before either can be abolished. However, according to some commentators, the act institutes a weak statutory mechanism, which does not stipulate provisions or guarantees for such a referendum, or makes duties of Crown Ministers in this respect publicly answerable to the Scottish electorate.
About 120 amendments and new clauses were lodged on the bill by opposition parties but these were rejected by the Commons.
During the passage of the bill, almost a full year of negotiations took place between the Scottish and UK Governments concerning the fiscal framework that accompanied it. This was necessary because of the intention to reduce the block grant given to the Scottish government by HM Treasury to take account of the additional income the Scottish government will receive through retaining a portion of the revenues from income tax and VAT that are generated in Scotland.
The Smith Commission said that there should be “no detriment” to either government in this context, something which is technically difficult to achieve. A Scottish government proposal was that future adjustment to the block grant should be based on the “per capita index”, which takes into account the growth in tax receipts across the UK, not just Scotland. This is significant because Scotland’s economy and population are not growing as fast as the UK’s. However, the Treasury position was that this would be unfair to the rest of the UK.