Page last updated at 00:08 GMT, Thursday, 5 March 2009

Lib Dems want Holyrood power grab

Tavish Scott
Tavish Scott's party wants to radically increase various powers at Holyrood

The Scottish Liberal Democrats have drawn up radical plans to shift control of most taxes to Holyrood, BBC Scotland understands.

The policy package will go before the party's conference next week.

Party leader Tavish Scott wants new powers for Holyrood over drugs and firearms, energy and a raft of taxation powers, including financial borrowing.

However, the Liberal Democrats will still lead opposition at Holyrood to a referendum on independence.

The Liberal Democrats are showing signs of impatience with the Calman Commission which is reviewing Holyrood's powers.

Mr Scott wants Holyrood to assume control of policy on drugs, firearms, and energy.

In addition he wants to increase the Scottish Parliament's financial clout - with borrowing powers plus control over a basket of taxation including income tax, corporation tax, fuel duty, tobacco and alcohol duty and property stamp duty.

Armed with those powers, Mr Scott wants Holyrood to cut the burden of taxation to revive the economy.

"I strongly believe the Scottish Parliament needs to be accountable and needs to have the range of taxation powers which allow the government of the day to make real decisions which can help," he said.

But despite that wishlist, the Liberal Democrats will continue to argue that an independence referendum should be shelved during the recession.

That stance is likely to be backed by Labour and the Tories - but SNP Ministers say they will press ahead with plans for a referendum next year.

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