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Thursday, 18 November 2010

Have the SNP lied about the tax raising powers Scotland no longer has?

Michael Moore MP, the Liberal Democrat Secretary of State for Scotland has announced today that the SNP Government has let the tax varying powers for Holyrood lapse, but yet, just yesterday the SNP finance minister John Swinney MSP failed to mention it to the MSPs in Holyrood.

The SNP has constantly demanded more powers and a referendum but yet has now killed off the only tax power expressly voted for by Scottish people in the 1997 Devolution Referendum.

The Scottish Government has tried to sweep this under the carpet. It was fundamentally dishonest for Scottish Ministers not to make it clear during the Budget statement that they have killed off the tax varying power for this and the next Parliament.

According to the Scottish Office press release;
The Scottish Secretary Michael Moore has today written to the First Minister and other Holyrood leaders to inform them that a decision by the Scottish Government not to commit resources to maintain the Scottish Variable Rate (SVR) tax power means that HMRC could no longer collect such a tax.

The SVR is the power to lower or raise the basic rate of income tax by 3p.
The Scottish Government’s decision doesn’t just affect the SNP, but binds the hands of the next Government following the elections on May 5th 2011.

John Swinney told MSPs yesterday that he would not raise the Scottish Variable Rate of income tax but Michael Moore MP makes clear in his letter today that decisions taken by the Scottish Government mean the SVR power could not now be used before the 2013/14 tax year, so did John Swinney mislead Parliament?

The Scottish Secretary has written to the other main parties to advise them that they will not be able to use this power until the penultimate year of the next Parliament.

Michael Moore MP goes onto say;
"It is worth saying that the forthcoming Scotland Bill that I will publish in the next few weeks will contain the biggest transfer of financial powers from London since the creation of the UK. Our expectation is that these greater powers would be available to MSPs from 2015."

I really am concerned that John Swinney and the SNP government are not being entirely honest with voters on this, and if they can cover things like this up what else have they covered up since 2007?

The SNPs John Swinney MSP said yesterday in Holyrood;
"Within the Parliament's existing revenue powers, we have explored options for maximising our income.  We have been mindful of the need to considers the effect of the significant tax rises that the UK Government has announced before we act.  I therefore confirm that we will not raise the Scottish variable rate of income tax."
So, either he didn't realise the SVR power had been cancelled (which means he is out of touch and lost the trust of his staff) or he has mislead parliament or at the very worst knowingly lied to parliament.

It is time for the SNP to be honest and tell us where they stand and what they knew and when.

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