Abortion law devolved to Scotland as MPs pass Scotland Bill

Abortion law will be devolved to Scotland after MPs in the House of Commons voted through a series of new powers in the Scotland Bill.

Abortion law will now become a matter for Scotland's legislature in Holyrood, Edinburgh.Reuters

The government has said the bill will make the Scottish Parliament the most powerful devolved assembly in the world. As well as devolving abortion law, the bill gives Holyrood the power to set rates and bands of income tax from April 2017, keep half of all VAT receipts, and be given the ability to top up welfare benefits and create new payments.

Christian public policy charity CARE said the decision should mean the issue of abortion is debated by members of the Scottish parliament (MSPs).

"The transfer of such a major new power clearly merits a full Parliamentary debate and MSPs should take advantage of this opportunity as soon as possible," said CARE for Scotland director, Stuart Weir.

"In recent years the Scottish Parliament has debated assisted suicide and other complicated topics and proved itself equal to the task so it makes obvious sense to debate abortion laws in Scotland following this transfer."

MPs from the Scottish National Party (SNP) in Westminster did not oppose the bill but said it did not meet all the Smith Commission recommendations. The Smith Commission was a cross-party group that made recommendations for devolved powers to Scotland.

MSPs in Edinburgh will have to debate the new measures before the bill receives royal assent, which is scheduled to be in the spring of next year, ahead of the Scottish elections in May.

Nicola Sturgeon, first minister for Scotland and leader of the SNP, has said she is in favour of abortion becoming devolved but did not say she would make any changes to the existing legislation.