Britain's Cameron heads to Scotland for devolution talks

Britain's Cameron heads to Scotland for devolution talks

LONDON - British Prime Minister David Cameron travels to Scotland on Friday for talks on the future of the United Kingdom, after a pro-independence party won almost every Scottish seat in last week's election.

A bill granting more powers to Scotland is to be included in the May 27 Queen's Speech, which sets out his government's legislative programme, indicating it is a priority for his second term in office.

But the Conservative party leader is set for a confrontation with secessionist leader Nicola Sturgeon, head of the Scottish National Party and First Minister in the Edinburgh government, who demands more powers than those so far set out.

"I am here today to underline my commitment to our United Kingdom and Scotland's important place within it," Cameron said in a statement.

He said his government would give Scotland control over 60 per cent of its spending, and "one of the most powerful devolved parliaments in the world".

But Sturgeon argues a surge in the SNP's popularity that saw the party take 56 of Scotland's 59 House of Commons seats in last week's election means there is a demand for "substantial new powers", including over business taxes and the minimum wage.

"As I have made crystal clear, the General Election result last week, and the overwhelming mandate that has given the SNP, means that it simply cannot be 'business as usual' when it comes to Westminster's attitude to Scotland," Sturgeon said ahead of the visit.

"Scotland expects these powers to be delivered - and I expect the Prime Minister and his Government to recognise the democratic mandate that now exists to deliver them."

Cameron ruled out another Scottish independence referendum in some of his first comments to press after winning a surprise majority in a general election on May 7.

Sturgeon has said there could only be another referendum if Scottish voters back a party proposing one in a Scottish parliament election, next due in 2016.

Calls for more devolution to other parts of the United Kingdom grew after Scotland was promised greater powers in lieu of independence, which was defeated by 55 per cent to 45 per cent in September 2014.

Cameron's government has promised more powers for Wales, and the prime minister's visit comes a day after Finance Minister George Osborne offered "radical devolution" of powers to big cities.

Osborne announced a "revolution in the way we govern England", shifting power away from London and offering major cities the chance to elect mayors and manage their own local transport, housing, planning, policing and public health.

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