Respect in tatters as UK government labels Holyrood Committee ‘a waste of time’


By G.A.Ponsonby
The UK government has said a Holyrood Committee – set up to look at the Tory proposals contained in the Scotland Bill – will be ignored as a ‘waste of time’, according to a respected academic.
Dr Graeme Dudgin from the Northern Ireland Economic Reform Group said he had been told by UK ministers and officials that they weren’t listening to the Scotland Bill Committee’s proposals and that the committee was wasting its time discussing tax powers.

Dr Dudgin was giving evidence to the committee set up to scrutinise the Bill that contains controversial tax proposals that would affect the Scottish block grant.  His claims have caused anger amongst members of the committee whose chair has now written to the UK government to demand an explanation.

SNP MSP Stewart Maxwell, who questioned Dr Dudgin, said that to reject out of hand a call for powers backed by the Scottish electorate in May’s election would be a serious misjudgement by UK ministers.

Mr Maxwell said:

“If Dr Dudgin’s comments are correct the UK Government has just ripped up what’s left of the respect agenda.

“It is no surprise that the UK Government are saying one thing and doing another but we have had UK ministers before this committee claiming they will listen to our proposals.

“To ignore the views of a committee of this parliament or to mislead this committee would be a disgraceful act by the UK Government.

“I am pleased the Convener agreed to immediately contact the UK Government for clarification.”

The committee has already taken evidence from Lib Dem Secretary of State for Scotland Michael Moore who initially confirmed that, had the new 10p tax proposals been implemented in 1999, the Scottish Parliament’s budget would have been £691 million less in the period to 2010/11.

However when questioned about that figure on 8th September he said: “I do not accept that it will be worse off.  I will happily repeat that however many times I have to do it.”

The tax plans, proposed by the Lib Dem’s Tory partners, are based on recommendations put forward by the Calman Commission set up by the Unionist parties after the SNP’s 2007 election win. 

The plans have been savaged by respected academics and economists.  Professors Andrew Hughes-Hallett and Andrew Scott described the Scotland Bill proposals as “deeply flawed” and claimed that they could in fact damage the Scottish economy.