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Last Updated: Thursday, 15 March 2007, 17:49 GMT
Parties clash on Trident and tax
Jack McConnell and Nicola Sturgeon
Jack McConnell and Nicola Sturgeon crossed swords
Scottish Labour and the Nationalists have clashed at First Minister's Questions over local tax and plans to replace Trident nuclear weapons.

First Minister Jack McConnell accused the SNP of using a Commons rebellion by Labour MPs on the nuclear vote to divert attention from its tax plans.

He said replacing council tax with an income tax would mean a "new poll tax".

SNP deputy leader Nicola Sturgeon accused Mr McConnell of "hypocrisy" over the renewal of Trident.

During some fierce exchanges at Holyrood, Ms Sturgeon said the SNP tax plans would result in "fair, local taxation" across the country.

She attacked Mr McConnell for supporting the replacement of the Trident nuclear weapons system in the face of widespread opposition.

MPs at Westminster backed UK Government plans to renew the nuclear weapons system by 409 votes to 161.

I also think it's very clear that the Scottish nationalists are trying to distract attention from their new poll tax they announced yesterday by focusing on this in the Scottish Parliament
First Minister Jack McConnell

However, there was a sizeable Labour rebellion and 15 of the Scottish party's MPs joined the revolt on Wednesday evening.

Ms Sturgeon asked Mr McConnell if he still supported a new Trident nuclear weapons system on the Clyde.

Mr McConnell hit back by claiming that the accusations about Trident were merely a diversionary tactic.

He said: "The UK Parliament has the responsibility for this, and made their views clear yesterday.

'Local taxation'

"I also think it's very clear that the Scottish Nationalists are trying to distract attention from their new poll tax they announced yesterday by focusing on this in the Scottish Parliament.

"This parliament has responsibility for local taxation in Scotland - and I welcome the opportunity to debate that with Miss Sturgeon if she is brave enough to answer the questions."

SNP plans would see the scrapping of the council tax and replacement of it with a fixed additional tax on income. The tax levied on property would be scrapped altogether.

A council tax bill
The SNP wants it local tax system to focus on income

Scottish Labour said the plan amounts to a tax on jobs.

Ms Sturgeon went on to argue that Mr McConnell had "completely lost the argument" on Trident.

She said: "Last night 37 of Scotland's 59 MPs did not support the government position on Trident."

Mr McConnell said the poll tax was one of the worst policies imposed by the Tories on Scotland.

The first minister said: "We saw Poll Tax Two coming forward from Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon.

"The imposition not only of a flat rate tax across Scotland - the new poll tax - but a cut in the budget to go along with it so people in Scotland get not just the poll tax but a cut in services.

"Not even the Tories, when they proposed their poll tax, proposed cutting services at the same time."

Ms Sturgeon said: "People in Scotland have the chance at the ballot box to reject those, Labour or Tory, who would impose Trident and vote instead for peace and public services."

Liberal Democrat MSP Jim Wallace said nuclear weapons were a serious issue that should not be reduced to "constitutional point-scoring".


VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Clashes in Holyrood over the vote to renew Trident



SEE ALSO
Trident plan wins Commons support
15 Mar 07 |  UK Politics
Trident vote: Labour rebels
14 Mar 07 |  UK Politics
Scots Labour MPs rebel on Trident
14 Mar 07 |  Scotland
SNP planning to scrap council tax
14 Mar 07 |  Scotland

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