IF THE Bedroom Tax debacle taught us nothing else, it is that injustice often begins in small places, close to home. Injustice is felt in individual lives, blighted; in potential, squandered; in nights and winters spent light-less, heat-less, cold. “Your application has been denied.” “You have been appraised as fit to work.” “Sanctions will now be imposed.” The tools by which these injustices are achieved are not glamorous. Nor are they overtly wicked. They are technical, abstract and bureaucratic. Regulations and policy papers, ministerial statements and working committees, statutory instruments and legislative details. They are dispassionate, dominating. The hand that signed the paper has no tears to let flow.

But the same is true of justice. You won’t find it in soaring speeches, in inspiring rallies and bold, vague statements of principle. Scotland has already seen and heard too much, far too much, of that. If justice is to mean anything substantial, anything real, it must mean justice in small places close to home. It means coming back down to brass tacks. In 1958, before the United Nations, Eleanor Roosevelt argued that justice begins in places “so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. Yet they are the world of the individual person; the neighbourhood he lives in; the school or college he attends; the factory, farm or office where he works. Such are the places where every man, woman and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination”.

With the new Scotland Bill, we come right back to brass tacks. Gruesomely so. The bill has none of the political poetry of the Constitution of the United States. There is no “we the people”. Instead, the bill is a succession of finicky tweaks and amendments that the ordinary punter will find almost unintelligible. On the face of it, it is about as politically stimulating as a railway timetable. But no less important for all that. The bill will give the Scottish Parliament opportunities to make a real difference in those small places, in employment tribunals, in the homes of folk worried about fracking. Is it perfect? Crivvens no. But the bad shouldn’t crowd out the good.

The bill is a curate’s egg. All the predictable things are still missing from the Scotland Bill, as they were missing from the Smith compromise. No minimum wage, no pensions, no employment law, no Equality Act, no national insurance, no universal credit, no broadcasting, no corporation tax, no inheritance tax, no capital gains, no renewable energies, no oil. We’re stuck with benefits sanctions, and, worse, actually prohibited from using our new devolved powers to mitigate their impact. In several other respects, the rhetoric falls short of the reality. Will this bill make the Scottish Parliament “permanent”, protected from abolition? Nope.

Westminster remains sovereign. Will it give teeth to the constitutional convention that Westminster cannot legislate for devolved matters without Holyrood’s consent? Not really. But let’s be fair. There is real progress here too.

The original draft clauses were clearly Treasury work: grudging, minimalist and controlling. The truth is, there are a number of different ways in which the broad, imprecise recommendations of the Smith Commission could have been realised. Some bolder, others much more cautious and limited. The devil is, proverbially, in the legal detail.

And in drafting that detail for the former Secretary of State for Scotland, Alastair Carmichael, UK civil servants adopted the most restrictive alternative at every turn. A forensic, fair-minded, all-party Holyrood committee cried foul. Even Professor Adam Tomkins, who served on the Smith Commission for the Tories, recognised that Carmichael’s draft wasn’t up to snuff. Smith promised a power to top-up the universal credit. The bill unveiled yesterday will finally give MSPs that power. The anxiety remains, however, that this will be a paper tiger: responsibility without power is only austerity devolved.

But one thing is crystal clear: this is not a federal solution for Britain. This bill cannot save the Union. Yesterday, Westminster only kicked the can a little further up the road.