Holyrood to vote on tax powers and Green Budget plans

For immediate release 16 January 2010

Next Thursday the Green MSPs will bring a vote in Parliament on a motion calling for Scottish Ministers to work with their UK counterparts to restore the democratically-endorsed tax powers of the Scottish Parliament. The motion will also set out the party's Budget priorities a week before the crunch vote on the SNP administration's draft proposals. (1) The Green position is that Ministers should use the existing powers devolved to Scotland to identify progressive ways to raise revenue and protect public services rather than accepting Tory cuts from Westminster.

Patrick Harvie MSP said:

"The more we find out about how Holyrood's tax-varying powers lapsed, the more incompetent it turns out both Scottish and UK Ministers have been. In 1997 the Scottish people voted for a strong Parliament, able to stand up to any future Tory government's ideological cuts agenda. There can be no excuse for ignoring that democratic vote and leaving the Scottish Parliament unable to make a decision on this issue.

"Disappointingly, the SNP seem determined to pitch a Tory Budget to the Scottish Parliament, passing on all London's cuts and adding some more of their own. When vital public services are being squeezed, we need Ministers who are prepared to act, not wring their hands and wait for independence. This week the whole Parliament will get a vote on whether we should raise revenue or just put jobs and services to the knife. If John Swinney won’t accept that case, and instead votes against our plans to protect public services, he'll have to get the Tories and their friends in the Lib Dems to do the dirty work with him.

"John Swinney is playing the traditional pre-devolution Scottish Secretary role, doing London's bidding without question. The SNP used to claim to be a party of the centre-left, but this Budget demonstrates they've indisputably chosen to be Tartan Tories, with John Swinney reduced to being George Osborne's man in Edinburgh.

"There's also a lot the SNP could do to improve this Budget even without raising more revenue. There is no excuse for their decision to pursue white elephant roadbuilding projects like the additional Forth Road Bridge while slashing funding for housing, energy efficiency, and public transport."

The draft motion lodged in the name of Patrick Harvie MSP reads as follows:
That the Scottish Parliament instructs Ministers to open discussions in good faith with their UK counterparts about the prompt re-establishment of the democratically-endorsed Scottish Variable Rate; believes the Westminster Government's cuts agenda is ideologically-driven, economically illiterate, and will have a disproportionate impact on the poorest both in Scotland and the rest of the UK; rejects the Scottish Government's decision simply to hand on these cuts to Scottish public services, with housing, energy efficiency, and public transport particularly at threat; believes the terms of the proposed Council Tax Freeze reduce local authorities' ability to make their own democratic decisions and look at alternatives to cutting vital local services; and urges the Scottish Government to revise the draft Budget to reduce these cuts by incorporating progressive ways to raise revenue at a local level within the existing powers of the Scottish Parliament to ensure the wealthiest pay more and the poorest pay less, including options such as Land Value Tax, a hotel bed tax, and reducing exemptions to the Uniform Business Rate.