For immediate release 17 November 2010
Today's letter from Michael Moore, the Secretary of State for Scotland, to the Scottish leaders at Holyrood confirms that in 2007 SNP Ministers let the mechanisms behind the Scottish Parliament's tax powers lapse, endangering one of Scotland's few powers to stand up to the current Westminster cuts. The letter says that two years' notice would now be required to vary income tax levels in Scotland, rather than ten months while that mechanism was kept operational, and UK Ministers claim that the rate could not now be varied before 2013.
The Scottish Greens are therefore today insisting that Scottish Ministers must act now to allow the next Scottish Parliament to use the hard-won tax powers backed by the Scottish people in the 1997 referendum, and believe the public have the right to know which Minister made this decision.
Patrick Harvie MSP said:
"We must now find out which Minister is responsible for this abject incompetence, and he or she may well have to consider his or her position. More importantly, the SNP should act immediately to remedy their failure. Ministers must meet urgently with HMRC to restore Holyrood's ability to use the revenue-raising powers. The Scottish people deserve to be able to choose between cuts and raising revenue at the next election, but the SNP have conspired to try and deny them that choice. This is either extraordinary incompetence or a misguided attempt to ensure that whoever wins in May will have to stick to the SNP's decision simply to hand on Westminster's cuts.
"We have long regretted the amount of time SNP Ministers spend complaining about the powers this Parliament doesn't have while neglecting to use the powers they do already have. To find out now they have let those existing powers lapse is nothing short of jaw-dropping, but Scotland still has the power to raise revenue fairly and progressively at local level, by empowering Councils to raise a wider range of taxes to defend public services, and to reduce the dependence on the Scottish block grant. All that is needed is the political will to answer one question - do we want to hand on Tory cuts to Scotland or act creatively to defend the services which million of Scots depend on?"