BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Thursday, 8 November 2007, 18:55 GMT
SNP sees off more budget scrutiny
Pound coin
The Scottish budget will be unveiled next week
The SNP government has managed to see off calls for increased opposition scrutiny of next week's budget.

Labour had put forward proposals to secure five extra Holyrood debates on the administration's spending plans.

But the move was thwarted after the Conservatives and Greens joined forces with the Nationalists at voting time to reject the proposals.

However, there will still be a budget debate and detailed scrutiny at the Scottish Parliament's committees.

The decision came after fiery exchanges in parliament, where the Liberal Democrats accused ministers of stitching up a "grubby back alley deal" with the Tories over its budget.

Labour are guilty of the worst kind of opportunism and hypocrisy
Bruce Crawford
Minister for parliament

Bruce Crawford, the minister for parliamentary business, branded the Labour calls "irresponsible", claiming that they were a fundamental breach of the parliament's founding principles.

Scotland's minority administration is to set out its budget plans next week, but needs the support of rival parties to get them through Holyrood.

On the attack, Lib Dem finance spokesman Tavish Scott declared: "Neither the Tories not the Nationalists want effective, transparent scrutiny of this budget, because they've stitched up a grubby back alley deal."

There was now, Mr Scott claimed, "a marriage in waiting" between Tory leader Annabel Goldie and First Minister Alex Salmond.

"The ring is in Mr Salmond's suit pocket," he said, adding: "Annabel is halfway down the aisle."

Labour leader Wendy Alexander claimed increased scrutiny would expose the fact that the Nationalists never intended to keep their manifesto promises.

'Posture politics'

"I know members on the government benches will not like to be reminded of this," she said.

"But they know - and we know - they consciously set out to buy off the electorate in May with promises they knew they could not keep."

Tory finance spokesman Derek Brownlee said the budget process should not be altered because a new administration was now power.

"Those of us who want to enhance this parliament's standing must not play fast and loose with the procedures of this place for party political advantage," he said.

"That applies to the budget and the procedures which are in place to scrutinise it."

Mr Crawford said the Labour proposals had sought to make major, last-minute changes to the budget process and represented the worst of "posture politics".

He told MSPs: "Labour are guilty of the worst kind of opportunism and hypocrisy. They really don't care about the reputation of parliament.

"All they care about is political advantage for the Labour Party, nothing more, nothing less."

SNP 'determined' over tax freeze
08 Nov 07 |  Scotland
How MSPs voted in the parliament
07 Nov 07 |  Scotland

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific