Brown’s plea over revenue plan

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Published: Sunday 12th October 2014 by The News Editor

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Gordon Brown has urged Holyrood’s unionist parties to unite around his plan to make the Scottish Parliament responsible for raising over half of its own revenue.

The call comes after the Smith Commission – tasked with agreeing more powers for Scotland in the wake of the independence referendum – published each of the Scottish parties’ proposals.

Mr Brown wants Holyrood to be responsible for raising 54% of its own revenue, quadrupling the figure from the £4 billion it currently raises to £18 billion in 2016.

Scottish Labour wants powers which would allow the Scottish Government to raise 40% of its own budget.

Mr Brown has backed the party’s plans to put three-quarters of basic rate income tax in Scotland under the control of the Scottish Parliament, but has gone further by proposing the assigment of 50% of VAT revenues, totalling £5.5 billion.

His call for Labour, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats to back his plan comes ahead of House of Commons debates on Tuesday and Thursday, and follows a drive to boost a 110,000 signature petition calling on the Tories to honour the pre-referendum “vow” of more powers.

In its submission to the Smith Commission, the SNP has called for full control over fiscal and tax policy to be devolved, while the Lib Dems say Scotland must raise most of the money it spends, but issues like welfare and defence should remain reserved.

The Tories want Holyrood to be responsible for setting the rates and bands of personal income tax. They also propose that a share of VAT receipts raised in Scotland are assigned to the Scottish Parliament.

Mr Brown said: “The Tories have still to support about half of the powers that Labour proposes to devolve, refusing as of yet to agree to the devolution of powers relating to employment, borrowing for infrastructure investment, rail services, the Crown estates and the enforcement of UK health and safety regulations and equalities legislation.

“I believe our proposals, which reflect what was promised before September 18, show how strong the new Parliament could be.

“The SNP plan for fiscal autonomy would mean no transfers of resources within the UK, ending UK pensions, ending UK help for Scots when unemployed, ending UK support for Scottish health and education – all of which Scots on September 18 voted to keep. It would also end the Barnett formula to which all pro-devolution parties have committed. Their plan adds up to separation by another route.”

SNP MP Pete Wishart said: ”As a Labour backbencher and self-proclaimed ex-politician, Gordon Brown speaks with no real authority or ability to deliver anything at all – and that is his problem. He may want all his ideas and plans implemented but David Cameron won’t.

“The real shame is that when Gordon Brown was in government for 10 years – three as prime minister – he could have delivered on any of these ideas but failed to do so, and was in fact bitterly opposed even to the devolution of Air Passenger Duty.”

Published: Sunday 12th October 2014 by The News Editor

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