For immediate release 20 January 2010
In Parliament's first vote on the draft Budget, the SNP and the UK Coalition parties united to vote down Green proposals to restore Holyrood's tax-varying powers and to use progressive revenue-raising ideas to limit the cuts. Coming six days ahead of the formal Stage 1 vote on the SNP's proposals, this decision by John Swinney and his colleagues confirms that they would work with the Tories and their coalition partners to deliver a cuts budget for Scotland.
Patrick Harvie MSP said:
"John Swinney had a choice when drafting his budget. He could have worked with the Greens and appealed to the better instincts of the other opposition parties to find progressive and constructive ways to protect public services, but instead he just rolled over to George Osborne's ideological cuts agenda. In good conscience we have no choice but to vote against the current budget if it comes to Holyrood unchanged next week, just as Caroline Lucas voted against George Osborne's budget last year.
"The SNP have become what they always denied being, Tartan Tories, and the party that claims to stand up for Scotland will next week vote to slash Scotland's public services and let its people down. This government has run out of vision and run out of energy, and my hope now is that Holyrood votes this budget down and takes up Alex Salmond's offer to think again."
The 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.