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EDITIONS
SNP Saturday, 22 September, 2001, 13:44 GMT 14:44 UK
Nationalists urge tax review
Dundee Caird Hall
The conference is taking place at Dundee's Caird Hall
The UK tax system has been attacked as "complex and inefficient" by the Scottish National Party at its conference in Dundee.

A resolution calling for a comprehensive review to create a fairer, more progressive, and simpler system was passed by SNP delegates.

The call comes the day after party leader John Swinney told the conference he would not rule out using the "Tartan Tax".

Mr Swinney said tough choices over the so far unused power of the Scottish Parliament to vary income tax by up to 3p would have to be made.

John Swinney
John Swinney: "Tough decisions"
He said: "I may be faced with a choice between asking people to pay more in taxation or asking children to wait long periods for vital hospital treatment.

"Let me make it clear, I will not turn my back on Scotland's children."

Shadow economy minister Andrew Wilson told delegates in Saturday's debate: "I was damn proud of John Swinney yesterday, and damn proud to be in a party led by a man with the courage and honesty to say he is going to face hard choices.

"The SNP had never shirked difficult decisions on tax, and he made that very clear yesterday."

During the debate, SNP delegates attacked the "unfair and dishonest" tax policies of successive governments and demanded a comprehensive tax review.

Andrew Wilson MSP
Andrew Wilson: Hard choices
The review should be aimed at restoring "fairness and progressiveness" to the system, simplifying it, and delivering a "competitive" business tax regime in Scotland.

The reforms demanded are in non-devolved policy fields - the present responsibility of Westminster, or the future responsibility of an independent Scotland.

Shadow finance minister Alasdair Morgan said: "The people of Scotland have every right to demand and expect a system of taxation that is honest, fair, easy to understand, encouraging to individual and collective enterprise, and which delivers the revenues which will enable us to make the investment in public services which John talked about yesterday."

There was no mention of the Tartan Tax in the debate, beyond a general warning from activist Ms Dallas Carter that voters did not like high taxes.


The people of Scotland have every right to demand and expect a system of taxation that is honest, fair, easy to understand.

Shadow finance minister Alasdair Morgan
Recalling the era of high personal taxation in the 1970s, she said high taxes were unpopular and counter-productive and warned: "Don't kid yourselves Scots are any different. They are not."

She said the SNP's "Penny for Scotland" campaign of 1999 had not done well, and Liberal Democrats lost votes when they advocated a penny on tax in 1997.

"People in the UK and Scotland have got this idea into their heads that high tax is a bad thing - but they still want a national health service, education, police and fire services."

Delegates overwhelmingly carried the resolution calling for a comprehensive review of the tax system.

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