The SNP have described the package of new powers to be given to Scotland by the UK Coalition government as “Calman Minus” after it emerged that two tax powers initially expected to be handed over will remain reserved to Westminster.
The UK PM David Cameron will this week sign off a new Scotland Bill which will see income tax powers being transferred to Holyrood. Other powers, including the laws on air guns and the speed limit, will also be handed over.
However Air Passenger Duty and the Aggregates Levy will not be included in the package – together both taxes are worth in the region of £150 million.
A spokesman for the Scottish First Minister said: “The smaller taxes retreat is another indication that the Tories are going to deliver ‘Calman Minus’ – an embarrassment to the beleaguered Lib Dems in Scotland, whose leader Tavish Scott boasted of ‘Calman Plus’.”
The income tax changes will see the Scottish income tax rates cut by 10p and the Scottish block grant slashed by an equivalent amount of money, the Scottish government would then have to increase taxes in Scotland in order to make up the shortfall. However the plans have been described as disastrous by eminent economists who have claimed that the Scottish economy will be damaged.
The SNP oppose the plans and have instead insisted that Scotland needs Full Fiscal Autonomy in order to protect jobs and mitigate the harm caused by the deficit left behind by Labour. However the Unionist parties claim that the new Bill will create a more accountable and better functioning democracy in Scotland.
Scottish Secretary Michael Moore claims that the tax changes will allow the Scottish parliament to become more accountable.
Mr Moore said: “The Scotland Bill will empower the Scottish Parliament and see Holyrood answer to the public for the decisions it makes on raising revenue. That brings far more transparency, clarity and accountability to the Scottish Parliament and is to be welcomed.
“It bridges a gap in accountability, and is a major step forward in improving devolution and bringing it closer to the people of Scotland.”
The SNP have demanded answers on the cost implications of the tax changes. Only last week it emerged that HMRC had demanded at least £7 million to upgrade the IT system needed in order to implement the soon to be redundant ‘tartan tax’. The resultant furore saw John Swinney apologise to parliament for not informing the chamber of his decision not to pay the costs.