Page last updated at 17:29 GMT, Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Scottish Parliament

MSPs passed the Finance Secretary John Swinney's £30bn spending plans, after the Budget (Scotland) Bill debate on 8 February 2012.

The bill was passed at Holyrood by 70 votes to 52 with no abstentions, with the Scottish Liberal Democrats backing the Scottish government.

The Scottish Finance Secretary John Swinney had announced more money for colleges and housing during the earlier debate on Scotland's budget.

Mr Swinney said £19.5m would be given to student support; £45m to affordable housing; £72m to roads projects and an extra £94m to local government.

He announced additional capital spending of £382m, for 2012 to 2015.

The finance secretary also confirmed that a tax on retailers selling alcohol and tobacco would be limited to three years, though this will be funded by an increase in business rates for all large retailers.

Mr Swinney insisted that the proposals in his Budget Bill "will boost public sector capital investment, takes direct action to tackle unemployment, in particular youth unemployment, and enhances economic security across the Scottish economy".

He told MSPs: "I have listened to views from across Scotland and this is a budget for growth that puts the interests of our economy, our public services and the people of Scotland first."

Scottish Labour Finance spokesperson Ken MacIntosh conceded there was "limited but welcome backtracking" on college funding but said of the nationalist backbenchers who clapped the announcement; "to applaud a cut disguised by smoke and mirrors" was something they should be ashamed of.

He said the budget was the SNP majority government's "big opportunity" and instead it was its "big disappointment."

Gavin Brown, the Scottish Conservative finance spokesperson, said there was "some good news" from the finance secretary but told the chamber every announcement "was made possible because of the Barnett consequentials from the United Kingdom government."

He questioned how a budget which claimed to focus on "economy, jobs and growth" could include a 6% cut in college funding from 2011-12 to 2012-12 when youth unemployment has reached more than one thousand in Scotland.

Mr Brown also said the retail levy would "make Scotland less competitive than the rest of the UK."

However Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said his party had "constructive discussions" with Mr Swinney about the budget and had made a number of suggestions for changes.

"On colleges, we think there has been quite a major step forward and certainly a significant change from the rhetoric of the education secretary the previous week, where he said it was a full, fair and final settlement," he said.


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