Page last updated at 16:53 GMT, Saturday, 6 March 2010

Lib Dem pledge to boost spending

Tavish Scott
Mr Scott said his party plans a major tax shake-up

The Liberal Democrats have pledged to boost Scottish spending by £300m if the party claims victory in the election.

And Scots party leader Tavish Scott earmarked education as a top priority, with more help for children from tougher backgrounds.

He also told his party's conference the Lib Dems would provide the biggest tax switch for a generation, with breaks for those who needed them most.

Mr Scott also attacked Labour as "decrepit" and the Tories as "tired".

And, amid talk of a hung parliament after the next UK election, and a possible power-sharing deal, the Scottish Lib Dem leader directed his party to hold its 12 Westminster seats, while winning new ones.

When we say we want a fair and sustainable economy - that means it will start within weeks
Tavish Scott
Scottish Lib Dem leader

"My ambitions are not about making up the numbers after this General Election - it's Liberal Democrats being the action," he said.

Mr Scott told delegates in Perth a post-election Lib Dem budget in June would see 25,000 affordable homes to rent in Scotland, investment in green energy and the creation of 16,000 jobs.

The spending plans would also bring in a bankers' levy, restrictions on tax credits to those who needed them most and a block on the replacement of Trident nuclear weapons.

"Our Liberal Democrat Budget in June will add £300m to the amount of money the government in Scotland has to spend," he said.

"When we say we want a fair and sustainable economy - that means it will start within weeks."

Fairness pledge

Mr Scott said a better start for children was crucial to the Liberal Democrats' vision for a fairer society, as he outlined plans for a "pupil premium" to ensure youngsters from disadvantaged backgrounds could make a success of their lives.

"Too many children leave school without the knowledge and skills they need," he said.

"Your family background still has a huge effect on how you do at school.

"A child who is bright, but poor, will fall behind a richer classmate by the age of seven - and they will never catch up."

It's the Liberal Democrats who can offer the only alternative to the slick, shifty Tories and tired, decrepit, old Labour
Tavish Scott
Scottish Lib Dem leader

Mr Scott added: "Nothing in that is fair - and that must change."

Turning to the election campaign, the Lib Dem leader declared: "Across Britain, it's the Liberal Democrats who can offer the only alternative to the slick, shifty Tories and tired, decrepit, old Labour."

He went on to accuse Scotland's SNP government of "conning" the Scottish public by making promises which could not be paid for.

Mr Scott promised to "level" with the public, adding: "I would love to promise everything but I can't, so I won't.

"Because to promise everything would be grotesquely misleading - we Liberal Democrats won't do that.

"We will be fair and straight about what Scotland can afford."

Mr Scott positioned the Liberal Democrats as Labour's direct challengers, saying people wanted change and a "fairer Britain".

The leader declared: "We must deliver that new fairer beginning. We must. It's our challenge.

"And when this election comes - we will."



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