Moore urged to clarify Scotland Bill tax powers as organisations voice concerns


Evidence submitted to the Scotland Bill from a wide range of organisations has backed calls for the Scottish Parliament to take on greater responsibility and raised concerns over the tax raising powers planned by the UK government.
Organisations ranging from the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations to Highland Council, the SFHA and Scottish Rugby Union have called for amendments to the bill in evidence published today.

The evidence also reveals concerns over the impact of the Lib Dem/Tory tax plans for Scotland, the failure of the UK Government to respond to previous questions from civic society and the ability of HMRC to implement the income tax system together with concerns over how the new system will affect those on low wages.

The Low Income Tax Reform Group warned that “The fiscal proposals of the Scotland Bill are likely to bear most heavily upon Scottish taxpayers on a low income who are unable to afford professional advice.” 
Welcoming the submissions ahead of today’s committee meeting to discuss the Crown Estate, SNP MSP and Committee member John Mason said:

“Across the board it is clear the Scotland Bill does not live up to the ambitions of the people of Scotland.

“The evidence submitted to the committee shows a demand for more and greater powers to be included in the Scotland Bill so we can support capital projects, support those in need in our society, promote jobs, protect consumers and grow our off shore renewables industry with control of the Crown Estate Commission.

“Well respected voices across civic Scotland are calling for this Bill to be improved and extended.  It is time for Michael Moore to listen.

“There is also real concern about the impact of the UK Government’s plans for income tax and the lack of thought that the UK Government has put into how they will affect the low paid.

“The Tory-Lib Dem cuts agenda has exposed the very real problems of running a social support system for people in Scotland that is not joined up with the jobs, housing or needs of Scotland.   There has been no thought of the impact of these plans.”

Mr Mason claimed that the UK government and LibDem Secretary of State for Scotland Michael Moore needed to answer “key questions” on the Bill.

He added:
“Michael Moore and Danny Alexander must set out clearly how this tax will work, what impact it will have on the low paid, what plans they have to collect it and what it will cost Scotland.”

The following organisations supported additional powers and amendments to the bill:

Highland Council on the Crown Estate:

“Highland Council consider that it is an historical anomaly that the CEC continue to operate in Scotland and that, as a relatively straightforward matter of good governance and the public interest, the CEC’s responsibilities in Scotland should be devolved to the Scottish Parliament and thereafter, and as appropriate, to local authority level.”

Consumer Focus Scotland:

“We consider that it would be in the interests of consumers in Scotland if responsibility for the delivery of consumer advocacy, education and advice, together with the funding for their provision, were to lie with the Scottish Government.”

Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations:

“The Scotland Bill does not address any of the issues which make a practical difference to Scotland and its third, private or public sector, especially in the current economic situation. Ideally, SCVO wanted the Scotland Bill to usher in more employability powers for Scotland. …..As a starting point we have continually called for the devolution of DWP employability projects and Job Centre Plus to the Scottish Parliament, as a fore-runner o the creation of a Scottish Employability Service.”

Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA):

“The SFHA supports the Scottish Parliament’s call for increased borrowing powers.”
… on welfare reform “We would urge the Committee to go beyond the Session 3 Committee’s recommendations and to recommend that a clause be incorporated in the Scotland Bill that puts in place an obligation to consult the devolved administrations about the principles and administrative arrangements in respect of any reform proposal that interacts with devolved responsibilities”

Scottish Rugby Union:

“Scottish Rugby would welcome greater devolved power of broadcasting regulation to Scottish Ministers as this increased influence could advantage Scottish viewers if more Scottish sport was broadcast. Scottish Rugby believes that increased coverage would lead to several advantages both culturally and economically”

Scottish Chambers of Commerce:

“Scottish Chambers of Commerce were broadly supportive of the amendments proposed by the previous Scotland Bill Committee.  We were particularly keen to see the Scottish Government given borrowing powers that would enable it to make substantial investment in Scotland’s infrastructure. SCC were delighted to see the Scotland Bill amended to increase the borrowing powers that will be available to the Scottish Government once it is implemented.
“We are also particularly supportive of the proposal to devolve Air Passenger Duty. Domestic flights play a crucial role in supporting Scotland’s economy, so the industry has a different focus in Scotland than in the rest of the UK. It is therefore appropriate that the Scottish Government is able to structure air passenger duty in a way that reflects the needs of Scottish passengers and secures the continuation of lifeline routes.

Scottish Youth Parliament:

• The Scottish Parliament should be responsible for raising more of the money to pay for the public services it has control over
• Specifically, the following taxes and fiscal responsibilities should be considered for devolution – Corporation Tax, Tobacco Excise Duty, Alcohol Excise Duty, Aggregates Levy and Income Tax
• The Scottish Parliament should gain additional borrowing powers
• Control over the income from Crown Estate lands in Scotland should be devolved to the Scottish Parliament
• We recommend the power to legislate in the following areas should be considered for devolution to the Scottish Parliament – air weapons, firearms, misuse of drugs, drink driving limits, speed limits, elections to the Scottish Parliament, energy regulations, equal opportunities legislation, the Civil Service, abortion regulations, betting and gaming regulations and broadcasting
• Control over food content and labelling should remain devolved
• Welfare and benefits relating to areas that are devolved to the Scottish Parliament should be devolved to the Scottish Parliament
• A referendum should be held on Scotland’s constitutional future, with the options of no change, more powers for the Scottish Parliament or full independence.