Ed Miliband: full speech
Ed Miliband spoke in Glasgow today, the day after publication of the Smith Commission Report, and said that if Labour became the Government after the General election next May he would implement the Smith Commission in his first Queen’s Speech.
It is great to be in Glasgow today.
And especially to be here with our great shadow Secretary of State for Scotland, Margaret Curran, the interim leader of the Scottish Labour Party, Anas Sarwar, and all our excellent Members of the Scottish Parliament.
Friends, the referendum campaign showed the deep desire in Scotland for change.
Political change in the way Scotland is governed.
And economic and social change in who it is governed for.
Let me say it directly to the people of Scotland: you wanted stronger powers for the Scottish Parliament.
Greater control of the decisions that affect you.
We have listened.
We have learned.
And we have changed.
A vow was signed during the referendum campaign.
It was sealed by the votes of the Scottish people.
It was delivered by the Smith Commission.
It has been signed.
It has been sealed.
It has been delivered.
Elect a Labour government in May and we will implement the Smith Commission in our first Queen’s Speech.
This is my promise to the people of Scotland.
We should be clear about the scale of the changes.
Not just the devolution of income tax and Air Passenger Duty.
But in welfare alone, the devolution of:
Disability Living Allowance and Personal Independence Payments.
Industrial Injuries Allowances.
Winter Fuel Payment.
The Sure Start Maternity grant.
Cold Weather payments.
As well as the power to top up benefits and create new benefits.
Nobody can possibly say this is not a significant transfer of power.
And in case anyone is still in any doubt about the scale of the changes, we have gone from a situation where 10% of the money spent by the Scottish Parliament is funded by Scottish tax, to over 60%.
The changes announced yesterday represent a huge change in the way the United Kingdom will be governed.
We have been, for so long, a centralised country.
With power hoarded at Westminster.
I am proud that the Labour government delivered a Scottish Parliament in 1999.
That started to break the centralisation of our country.
However, we always said at the time that devolution was not a fixed point.
It would always adapt as people called for more power and more responsibility for their own nations and communities.
Our devolution commission published earlier this year, argued that more needed to be done in Scotland.
And in the Smith Commission we have recognised the need to go further still.
Let me say as well, to this audience, that devolution is not just for one part of the United Kingdom.
It must represent a change, a new principle, determining how we are governed throughout the United Kingdom.
We will bring power closer to people across the whole country.
Because devolution will not stop at the Scottish border.
Of course, devolution will not be precisely the same in every part of Britain.
It must be shaped by local people according to local needs.
But it must happen.
In Wales, we will put devolution on a new legal foundation.
And we will make changes in England too.
For far too long, England has been one of the most centralised nations in the world.
Choking off the energy and the initiative of the great towns and cities that once powered the industrial revolution: Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle, Sunderland and many others.
We are determined to change that by devolving real powers and real responsibilities to the cities and counties of England.
So that just as happens in Scotland, local people and local businesses can come together to create new jobs, better transport links, more skills and opportunities for the next generation.
That is what will be in our manifesto.
And as we make these new arrangements for the United Kingdom, we also know we must share power better between the different parts of the UK.
That’s why the next Labour government plans to replace the House of Lords with a new Senate for the Nations and Regions.
A truly representative, democratic body.
And this will be part of our Constitutional Convention after the election.
Now, some people will ask whether the Smith Commission doesn’t represent a path to the break-up of the country.
I do not believe it does.
It represents something else:
Bringing power closer to people, while maintaining the benefits of the UK.
Significantly enhanced powers for the Scottish Parliament but with the continued pooling and sharing of resources across the United Kingdom.
We will all continue to pay National Insurance together, so we can have a decent state pension across the United Kingdom.
We will continue together to support working people and families with tax credits so that we can make work pay across the United Kingdom.
We will continue to tackle child poverty, with child benefit across the United Kingdom.
We will continue to share resources and support each other.
The Smith Commission represents a way forward for stronger powers for the Scottish Parliament.
The argument should now begin about how those powers should be used and what kind of country we want to create.
Here is what I believe.
A belief that drives my leadership of the Labour Party.
And that shapes what I want to do as Prime Minister.
Scotland is too unequal.
Britain is too unequal.
And working together with a new leader to be elected here in Scotland, we have to change it.
There are 2,700 young people who have been out of work in Scotland for more than a year.
It is time to put them back to work.
And we will levy a bankers’ bonus tax to get jobs for those young people.
There are 90,000 jobs with zero-hours contracts in Scotland today.
We will end the indignity of exploitative zero-hours contracts and replace it with a new principle:
That if you work regular hours you should get a regular contract.
There are 400,000 people in Scotland being paid less than the living wage.
So we will raise the minimum wage to over £8 an hour to bring dignity back to the workplace.
There are millions of people in Scotland struggling with their energy bills.
That’s why the next Labour government will freeze energy bills until 2017.
And we will abolish the bedroom tax across the entire United Kingdom.
These are just some of the changes the next Labour government will make.
To the people who voted “no” in the referendum – we said we would deliver on a stronger Scottish Parliament and on social justice, and we will.
And let me say this to the people who voted “yes”, including people who have voted Labour in the past, I know you feel a sense of disappointment about the result of the referendum.
But I now ask you to consider what outcome you want from the general election in May.
Some people want to say that the election is about whether we deliver on our promises to the people of Scotland.
It is not.
They are wrong.
We have delivered.
We will deliver.
Instead this election is about whether we build a fairer, more equal country.
It is the most important election for a generation.
It will come down to a very simple, clear choice whether people want a Labour government or a Conservative government.
I’ve set out what I want to do.
A tax on bankers’ bonuses.
An £8 minimum wage.
An end to the exploitation of zero hours contracts.
A freeze on energy bills.
The end to the bedroom tax.
These are policies the Tories would never commit to.
Policies they oppose, every step of the way.
Policies that will only happen with a Labour government.
Yesterday we showed we would keep the vow.
Today, I vow to build a fairer country with a Labour government.
I vow to fight for a more just country with a Labour government.
And today I vow to build a more equal country with a Labour government, for Scotland and the whole of the United Kingdom.