Page last updated at 14:49 GMT, Sunday, 20 September 2009 15:49 UK

Salmond in opposition budget plea

Alex Salmond
Mr Salmond wants the Treasury to speed up capital spending allocation

Scotland's first minister has issued a plea to opposition parties to back his demand for more Westminster funds, to help ease the effects of the recession.

The Scottish government, which last week unveiled its budget plans for the coming year, has urged the Treasury to speed up capital spending allocation.

The SNP said Westminster could release the funds in the Chancellor's UK pre-Budget report this autumn.

But Labour accused Scottish ministers of economic incompetence.

The Scottish government has said its spending plans for the year ahead have been cut by £500m due to Westminster efficiency savings - but Labour insisted funding levels would actually increase.

'Rash promises'

Mr Salmond told BBC Scotland's Politics Show he was hopeful UK ministers would agree to his request.

"In an atmosphere where your budget's going down, where you have to have a balanced budget, quite clearly you can't get the increases you would like to see in different times - that's just reality," he said.

"Sooner, rather than later, that reality is going to dawn on the other political parties in the Scots parliament and hopefully, sooner rather than later, they'll get behind the government's campaign to accelerate capital spending to keep up the momentum of bringing the economy out of recession."

Scottish Labour leader Iain Gray said the SNP government's top priority of economic growth was now backfiring.

"The SNP have no idea how to run a modern economy," he said, adding: "Their incompetence affects us all and is holding Scotland back."

And, as budget talks with opposition parties likely to get underway soon, Scottish Conservative leader Annabel Goldie accused Mr Salmond of wanting to fulfil rash promises, rather than wise spending.

Tavish Scott, the Scottish Liberal Democrat leader, warned against an agenda of "creeping centralisation" in the budget, saying governments should not be trying to control people's lives.

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