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Historic move: UK begins transfer of powers to Scotland

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LONDON: The British government began a historic transfer of powers to Scotland on Thursday, keeping a pledge it had given to persuade Scots to reject independence as renewed nationalist support surges.

The draft bill, to be enacted after a general election on May 7, will further dismantle Britain’s highly centralized system of government, a move critics fear could trigger the beginning of the end of the United Kingdom.

It has already spurred demands from some politicians for similar moves in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, teeing up political uncertainty and heralding an eventual redistribution of power in the world’s sixth largest economy. Under the law, Scotland, which voted to reject full independence in a referendum in September, will be able to set income tax rates, influence welfare spending, and have authority to decide how the Scottish parliament and other structures are elected and run.

“The leaders of the other main political parties and I promised extensive new powers for the Scottish Parliament — a vow — with a clear process and a clear timetable,” British PM David Cameron said in the Scottish capital Edinburgh.

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