New powers for the Scottish Parliament will be used to create a fairer country, Constitution Secretary Derek Mackay has pledged.
From today, the Scottish Parliament and Scottish Government receive new powers through the Scotland Act 2016.
Many of these powers allow for legislation to be taken forward in areas including equal opportunities, consumer advocacy and advice, competition and transport.
The social security powers which are being devolved will be transferred at a later date, while most of tax powers which are being transferred will also take practical effect at a later date.
Mr Mackay said:
“The Scotland Act sees the most substantial change to the powers of the Parliament since devolution.
From today, the Scottish Parliament and Scottish Government have new powers over many areas, notably in equality, consumer advocacy and transport. Reflecting our priorities, we are already working to use these powers as quickly as possible, to tackle inequality and create a fairer, more prosperous country.
That includes our plans to promote equality by legislating for gender balance on the boards of public bodies.
Our consumer and competition strategy will take account of Scotland’s geographic, social and economic circumstances. We will use the newly devolved consumer powers to develop a robust system which protects and empowers consumers and supports businesses which are innovative, efficient and fair. And we will also remove employment tribunals fees that act as a barrier to justice.
On transport, we’ll allow public sector operators to bid for future rail franchises and integrate the British Transport Police into Police Scotland, while retaining the specialisms that are highly valued by the rail industry and passengers. And we will look to attract more international flights to Scotland, boosting investment and jobs, by reforming Air Passenger Duty, which under the UK Government is one of the highest taxes of its kind in the world.
While the Scotland Act does not go as far as we would wish, we will always use all the powers available to us in the best interests of Scotland.”