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Last Updated: Thursday, 11 March, 2004, 18:05 GMT
Socialists lose council tax vote
Council tax form
Latest opposition to the council tax is being led by the Socialists
Calls for the abolition of the council tax have failed to win the backing of the Scottish Parliament.

Scottish Socialist Party leader Tommy Sheridan said MSPs should reflect public opinion as he led a debate on the issue at Holyrood on Thursday.

He had lodged a motion which called on MSPs to support the scrapping of the charge and its replacement with an income-based alternative.

However, his move was defeated by 88 votes to 33.

He had urged all parties opposed to the council tax to vote with the Socialists.

The Scottish National Party and the Liberal Democrats both want the charge replaced with an income-based alternative.

Mr Sheridan said that the most recent opinion poll had suggested that 77% of Scots were in favour of abolishing the charge.

Rising bills

He argued that the council tax had been introduced by the last Conservative government as a "knee-jerk reaction to save their skins" following the poll tax rebellion in Scotland.

He said: "Ten years on we have a tax which pampers the well-paid and the wealthy, but punishes the pensioner household and the ordinary worker."

The Socialist leader added: "We have the reality that millions of households across Scotland, particularly pensioner households, but also the working households, can hardly now afford to pay their rising council tax bills."

He has managed to find a tax that is even more unpopular, as he would have it, than the council tax.
Tavish Scott
Deputy Finance Minister
Leaders of the SNP have already unveiled plans to replace the council tax with a local income tax.

Finance spokesman Fergus Ewing said: "Surely we must recognise that the current system, based as it is on property valuations, is unfair,"

However, Liberal Democrat deputy finance minister Tavish Scott insisted the plan by the Socialists for a "Scottish service tax" had been rejected by five out of the seven parties represented in parliament.

He said of Mr Sheridan: "He has managed to find a tax that is even more unpopular, as he would have it, than the council tax."

The proposal was also attacked by the Conservatives.

Finance spokesman Brian Monteith told MSPs: "The suggestion that by having a replacement to the council tax by yet another income-based tax we will solve the problem is, I think, misleading."


SEE ALSO:
SNP unveils 'axe the tax' plan
05 Mar 04  |  Scotland
Alliance holding back axe on tax
06 Mar 04  |  Scotland
Scrap council tax, says Swinney
26 Feb 04  |  Scotland
Pensioners push for tax review
23 Feb 04  |  Scotland


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