Page last updated at 15:14 GMT, Sunday, 31 January 2010

Talks go on ahead of budget vote

John Swinney
John Swinney is continuing talks with opposition parties

Scottish government budget talks with rival parties are moving ahead in a "constructive" way, Finance Secretary John Swinney has insisted.

He said several suggestions had been put to Labour to address their concerns that the £35bn spending plans would fail to help the economy.

But Mr Swinney said the party's demand to bring back the Glasgow Airport rail link was a difficult issue.

MSPs will be asked to vote on the 2010-11 budget in parliament this week.

Mr Swinney told BBC Scotland's Politics Show the minority SNP administration was ready to consider suggestions from opposition parties which would protect frontline services and promote economic recovery.

John Swinney decided to take out of the budget the Glasgow Airport rail link - this is the first time this has happened to a major capital project
Iain Gray
Scottish Labour leader

The finance secretary has already announced a pay freeze for senior civil servants, saying he expected "significant" UK funding cuts in the years ahead, and is considering a Liberal Democrat demand to cut the pay of the highest public sector earners.

Labour has set out the re-instatement of the airport rail link as a key budget demand, but Mr Swinney said there could be a question mark over funding for future stages of the four-year project.

"What I've made to the Labour Party are a number of suggestions about how the budget can develop in a way that addresses the concerns that they have about supporting economic recovery, about ensuring that every effort is made within the budget to put as much resource as we can into supporting economic recovery - and that's how I'll proceed in the discussions in the days to come," said Mr Swinney.

Meanwhile, Labour - which said the 2010-11 budget was rising by £847m from this year - said the government was still refusing to publish detailed information on how cash was being allocated.

Accusing the SNP of obstruction, Scottish Labour leader Iain Gray said: "John Swinney decided to take out of the budget the Glasgow Airport rail link - this is the first time this has happened to a major capital project."



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