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banner Thursday, 1 March, 2001, 15:24 GMT
SNP: Let Scotland decide

Banff & Buchan MP Alex Salmond stood down as SNP leader last year and is now the party's Treasury spokesman.
By Alex Salmond MP

On 7 March Gordon Brown will deliver what is likely to be the last Budget statement before the election. What will he announce for Scotland?


With the surplus Scotland will send to the Treasury this year and next, the Scottish Parliament is better placed to decide how this money should be invested for the future of our nation

In his previous four budgets the chancellor has taxed more and spent less than even the last Conservative government.

The additional tax revenues that he has collected in the last four years is equal to nearly 8.5p on the basic rate of income tax for every person in Scotland, but schools, hospitals and our transport infrastructure are still in desperate need of investment and poverty is not yet a thing of the past in Scotland.

The SNP has already shown that over this year and next, Scotland will send a surplus of revenue over expenditure of 7.7bn to the UK Treasury.

Yet, the Scottish Parliament has no say on how those revenues should be spent for the benefit of the people of Scotland. Decisions about how tax is raised and how that income is distributed is reserved to Westminster.


The operation of the Barnett formula is squeezing the amount of money Scotland has available for vital public expenditure

As the secretary of state for Scotland is now recognising, the Scottish economy is configured differently from the rest of the UK.

Manufacturing, tourism agriculture and fishing are all key sectors that are more important to the Scottish economy than to the UK as a whole.

The Scottish Parliament needs full control over the nation's finances, so that we can tailor our fiscal policy to reflect Scotland's different and distinctive economic conditions.

With control over fiscal policy, Scotland could:

  • Restore the link between pensions and average earnings to give our pensioners a decent state pension and thus end the indignity of means tested benefits.

  • Reduce further the level of duty on petrol and diesel to assist those living in rural areas that must make essential journeys by car.

    Nor are we able to help our haulage industry become more competitive with our European neighbours.

  • Create a level playing field for one of Scotland's most important industries - the whisky industry. The SNP has long supported the Scotch Whisky Federation's campaign for a cut in spirits duty.

  • Set business taxes to a level that fosters growth of indigenous industries and promotes investment and expansion.

    With lower business taxes we could become a magnet for headquarters' activity and location. This would also help to provide incentives for firms to expand in Scotland, to encourage companies to locate in Scotland.

  • Decide what level of spending on public services and infrastructure is appropriate for Scotland.

    The operation of the Barnett formula is squeezing the amount of money Scotland has available for vital public expenditure.

    With the surplus Scotland will send to the Treasury this year and next, the Scottish Parliament is better placed to decide how this money should be invested for the future of our nation.

    The majority of people are right to call for the Scottish Parliament to have control over its own finances - only then can we determine our own priorities and create the right economic conditions for business to grow.

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    See also:

    15 Jan 01 | Scotland
    Salmond defends Westminster move
    27 Feb 01 | Scotland
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    18 Feb 01 | Scotland
    Scots 'want' more tax powers
    28 Jan 01 | Scotland
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