Page last updated at 17:18 GMT, Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Parliament passes Scottish budget

John Swinney

MSPs have passed the 2010 Scottish government budget after ministers unveiled last-minute concessions to win support from opposition parties.

Finance Secretary John Swinney announced a series of measures to boost housing, education and business, while warning of a spending squeeze ahead.

Labour voted against the £30bn plans over the SNP's refusal to reinstate the Glasgow Airport rail link (Garl).

The budget passed through Holyrood with Conservative and Green support.

Mr Swinney said the spending plans would protect frontline services, such as schools and hospitals, and aid economic recovery.

The finance secretary has delivered a budget that falls far, far, far short of what needs to be done
Andy Kerr
Labour finance spokesman

He said: "2010-11 marks the start of a period of real tightening of public spending and the implications of that cannot be avoided in this year or future years.

"We must take tough decisions this year and the government has been prepared to do that and, secondly, we must take steps to prepare our public services and our public finances for the very challenging years to come."

In response to opposition demands, the finance secretary announced a £2m boiler scrappage scheme and curbs on public sector pay.

And, under a revision of the current budget, ministers set out a £20m boost to meet the surge in demand for college places, £10m to support access to finance for firms and £31m for affordable housing.

From Democracy Live: Budget Bill debate

Ministers said the £300m airport rail link had to go to deal with a predicted public spending squeeze in the coming years - but Labour said the cancellation would cost Glasgow more than 1,300 jobs.

But Labour finance spokesman Andy Kerr said the budget was actually increasing, telling MSPs:

"The finance secretary, in our view, has delivered a budget that falls far, far, far short of what needs to be done to stimulate Scotland's economy, create jobs and support hard-working families."

The Tories' Derek Brownlee said Labour had yet to make clear how Garl would be paid for, if reinstated.

He asked: "Why won't Labour tell us how Garl could be reinstated? Is it because deep down they know the answer is that the money has run out and the Labour Party dare not admit it?"

Jeremy Purvis, of the Liberal Democrats, whose party abstained in the crunch budget vote, welcomed measures to tackle the effects of the recession, adding: "The Budget Bill has been improved as a result of discussion, and that is welcome.

"But there are substantial concerns that remain - not least with regard to the top-paid 1% across the whole of the public sector in Scotland."

The budget, which carried by 66 votes to 45 with 14 abstentions, was also supported by independent Lothian MSP Margo Macdonald.



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