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Budget 2001 Thursday, 8 March, 2001, 18:41 GMT
SNP: Brown's Budget, too little too late
Banff & Buchan MP Alex Salmond stood down as SNP leader last year and is now the party's Treasury spokesman.
By Alex Salmond MP

This government has taxed unfairly and taxed by stealth.

They have introduced 28 tax increases in the last four Budgets, with another four increases due to come into effect in April - none of which were in their manifesto.

The tax burden under Labour has increased, and at the same time Gordon Brown is spending less of the nation's wealth on public services and infrastructure than at any time in the last 30 years.

Two out of three Scots believe that Labour has broken its promise to improve public services - and they are right.

Public services

While any additional resources for health and education are welcomed, it is too little too late.

Furthermore, the operation of the Barnett formula in Scotland, the mechanism by which public expenditure by the Scottish Parliament is determined, means that spending in Scotland is rising at a slower rate than comparable spending in England.

This comes at a time when Scotland will send a Budget surplus of nearly 8bn to the London Treasury over this year and next - putting Scotland in a stronger financial position than the UK as whole - this Budget makes the case for Scotland to have the normal powers of an independent country, so that we can allocate Scottish tax revenues to Scottish priorities.

The economy

This was a typical pre-election Budget, and clearly not designed for the needs of Scotland's economy.

While the chancellor waxes lyrical about the growth of the UK economy, the reality is that Scottish growth is just over half of what it is normally and a bare fraction of what is being achieved by countries such as Ireland and Finland.

And job losses in one of Scotland's key sectors - manufacturing - has totalled more than 30,000 since New Labour came to power.

Other key industries such as fishing, tourism and agriculture are also suffering, thanks to Labour's London-led economic policies.

So much for the end of boom and bust, Gordon Brown's London-based policies have created boom in the south east of England, and bust in Scotland.

Farming and fishing

At a time of enormous problems in our rural economy - with Scotland's farming and fishing industries facing real crisis - it was particularly disappointing that Gordon Brown had nothing new to offer rural Scotland.

The freeze in whisky duty was welcome, but he failed to deliver a competitive advantage, by cutting spirits duty, for the Scotch Whisky industry compared to other drinks.

This Budget will not impress the people of Scotland and they cannot be bribed with their own money when they want see real improvements to schools, hospitals and public services.


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