SNP to demand answers on Scotland Bill tax plans

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By a Newsnet reporter

The SNP has demanded answers on the tax plans contained in the Scotland Bill.

The calls come on the day that UK Treasury Minister David Gauke will appear before a Holyrood committee set up to scrutinise the contents of the Bill which has been drafted by the UK government.

SNP MSP and member of the committee Stewart Maxwell has insisted that there were many questions still to be answered such as the impact on Scotland’s budget.  Mr Maxwell also demanded to know what the costs of the proposed 10p tax change will be.

Speaking ahead of Mr Gauke’s appearance Mr Maxwell said:

“Michael Moore had to admit he does not know the impact of the bill on Scotland’s public spending and our public services and the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Scotland has thrown real doubt on his claims about costs.

“Business and welfare organisations are right to seriously question the ability of HMRC to implement this Tory tax plan and to do so without running up a huge bill for the Scottish Government and Scottish business.

“Do the Treasury expect the Scottish Government to simply write a blank cheque for the costs of running a deeply damaging tax plan?

The SNP MSP claimed that evidence thus far from UK Ministers had not been adequate enough to ‘give comfort’.  Recently Sir Kenneth Calman was forced to admit that the level the tax proposal was set at had no evidence to back it up and that 10p “sounded good”.

Mr Maxwell added:

“I hope that in today’s committee we will get real answers, real costs and a substantial assessment of the impact of tax changes on Scotland not the back of an envelope costings we have had so far.”

In evidence to the Scotland Bill Committee Michael Moore said 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.”

Asked about the decision to set a 10p rate for the UK Government and Scottish Government to control, Sir Kenneth Calman – who made the proposals – said: “There was no magic formula that said that it had to be 10p.” he continued “I know of no evidential basis for saying that that is better than 11.5p.”

The Scotland Bill command paper estimates costs of £45 million which would come from the Scottish budget to implement the tax plans.  In evidence to Scotland Bill Committee Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland said it would be more like £145m.