By Martin Kelly
Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont has refused to say how revolutionary childcare plans set out by the Scottish Government’s in its White Paper can be paid for under devolution.
In a debate into yesterday’s launch of the Scottish Government document, First Minister Alex Salmond explained that independence would see an extra one hundred thousand women enter the job market.
According to the Scottish Government, evidence from Sweden shows that the cost of such a revolutionary child-care provision would be paid for through the extra revenue generated by tax contributions of those in work coming to a Scottish Exchequer.
First Minister Alex Salmond claimed that after independence some of the initial cost would come from the scrapping of trident nuclear weapons but that over the long term the policy would be funded by economic growth and expansion created by more females in the workforce.
Mr Salmond said the policy would bring huge increases in revenues, would increase economic output by £2.2bn and raise taxation revenues by £700 million, enough to cover funding.
Responding to Scottish Labour politicians who have criticised the child-care pledge claiming it should be implemented now, the SNP has pointed out that as things stand any extra income from such a policy would go straight to the UK Treasury and be lost to the Scottish economy.
According to the Scottish Government, the policy will cost a total of £700 million and without independence would mean savage cuts to other areas.
In the Holyrood Chamber today, several Labour MSPs including leader Johann Lamont and her Finance spokesman Iain Gray, claimed the SNP was deliberately refusing to implement the policy in order to boost support for independence.
Speaking earlier on BBC Good Morning Scotland, Ms Lamont said: “The cynicism of it is that you will get it after the referendum.
“If they were serious about the policy, if they were serious about supporting families now they could make more progress than they are doing.”
However pressed by Mr Salmond to reveal how the pledge could be paid for under devolution, Ms Lamont refused to answer and instead insisted she and the First Minister should hold talks. Also refusing to say how the policy could be funded was her Finance Spokesman Iain Gray.
In a later twist, Finance Minister John Swinney revealed that in the six and a half years since the SNP came to power, the Scottish Government had not received a single request from Labour to increase funding for childcare.
The SNP inherited 412 hours per year childcare from the previous Labour/Lib Dem administration and have increased it to 475 hours. Current plans will increase childcare provision further to 600 hours.