Page last updated at 13:10 GMT, Wednesday, 28 May 2008 14:10 UK

'Poll tax' warning over SNP plan

Coins in hand
Ministers said they were consulting on the setting of the tax

Scottish plans for a local income tax could lead to the sort of unrest Scotland experienced with the poll tax, a law expert has warned.

Professor Alan Page told MSPs it was inevitable the courts would have to look at the council tax replacement to avoid public concern over its legality.

Holyrood ministers want to bring forward the 3p local tax in 2011/12.

They insisted that looking into the legal issues formed part of the current consultation on the policy.

Prof Page, of Dundee University, told Holyrood's local government committee he thought it was "inevitable" the policy would end up in court.

"This question of legality will cast a long shadow over the bill until it's effectively settled one way or another," he told MSPs.

Prof Page went on: "The nightmare scenario would be if you have a situation like the poll tax where people were refusing to pay because they say the Scottish Parliament does not have the power to do this.

"So, I think we need to get that question out of the way."

Ministers are currently consulting on the local tax proposal - but insisted the final version would be competent under Scotland's devolved powers.

They are asking whether councils could be given the power to set or vary rates or whether there should be a single, national 3p rate.

Holyrood tax powers 'have limits'
09 Apr 08 |  Scotland
'Challenging' local tax unveiled
11 Mar 08 |  Scotland
Local income tax plan under fire
13 Mar 08 |  Scotland
Frosty response to local tax plan
09 Mar 08 |  Scotland


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