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Shutting the gate

Brian Taylor | 10:37 UK time, Wednesday, 24 November 2010

UPDATE AT 1805:Regrets? He had a few. But, in the first instance, decidedly too few to mention for his opposition critics.

But by this evening - after Mr Swinney's closing speech in the debate - the atmosphere has changed somewhat.

Early talk of a motion of no confidence has not gone away entirely - but seems clearly to be slipping down the agenda.

That is because he closed by repeatedly stressing his regrets - and by apologising twice.

For the critics, the attention now shifts to digging further into the episode. Expect a committee hearing, a demand for the publication of all relevant documents.

Expect the Scottish government to comply fully with any such hearings and demands.

That, they say, is what parliament is for. Ministers are adamant that they acted with honour and in Scotland's interests at all times.

Expect Labour and the LibDems to urge a referral to the two former presiding officers, David Steel and George Reid, on the issue of whether Mr Swinney misled Parliament when he stated last week that he chose not to use a tax power (when, say critics, it was effectively suspended.)

UPDATE AT 1514: In the debate, a strong performance by John Swinney, insisting that the tax power was not in a suitable state of readiness when his party took power in 2007 - while regretting that he had not informed Parliament as the issue developed.

Re the readiness issue, was that because of neglect by the previous Executive, as Mr Swinney implied or was it rather because HMRC had conducted a review in the light of changes to its own IT structure?

The document produced by the Scottish Government dates from 14 May 2007, just after Mr Swinney entered office.

From that, we learn that the Tartan Tax would not be ready until April 2009 - but could be prepared by April 2008 at higher cost.

In other words, it was feasible, at a price, to re-establish the 10 month readiness (from a decision to implement the tax in June 2007.)

In response to Mr Swinney's strong performance, equally strong counter-attacks from Iain Gray, Annabel Goldie and Tavish Scott.

While Mr Scott was fiery, Mr Gray was coldly precise. Mr Swinney's apology, he said, had been grudging, his overall behaviour unacceptable.

As things stand, the SNP will lose tonight's vote - because, in terms of simple arithmetic, the Opposition parties will combine.

But further, in terms of momentum, the finance secretary may have more to do to persuade parliament to let the matter drop.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Unaccountably, it hasn't yet become a "gate".

I suppose "HMRC-gate" doesn't quite cut it. And yet the political challenge to John Swinney has perceptibly strengthened.

The issue? The Scottish government's decision to suspend payments to Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs which led to the effective lapsing of Holyrood's power to vary the standard rate of income tax.

Where are we this morning, ahead of this afternoon's debate? Opposition parties have tabled an amendment to the government motion defending Mr Swinney's actions.

The amendment accuses ministers of "an abuse of power" and of misleading Parliament. Given that this is backed by all the Opposition parties, it will carry.
Labour goes further, noting in a statement that Mr Swinney should "consider his position" - the standard code for "think about quitting."

Offstage, the SNP's opponents are preparing a motion of no confidence in the event that they are not satisfied following the debate.

So is John Swinney a goner? No. His tone this afternoon may shape the next phase.

Continuing negotiations

There were indications from his appearance before the finance committee yesterday that he recognises the need for an element of contrition.

Further, this remains a party political row, a Holyrood issue. It has, I would suggest, minimal salience at this point with the wider public.

Further still, nobody has been harmed. The tax power has not been used. No major party is proposing to use it.

Further still, it is at least arguable that HMRC's demands were unreasonable: that Ministers were right to resist.

I suspect, however, that Mr Swinney appreciates that he should have updated Parliament on the continuing negotiations with HMRC.

That is because decisions on taxation rest with parliament, not an individual minister.

More later.

Comments

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  • 1. At 11:01am on 24 Nov 2010, Alba4eva wrote:

    I hope the unionist's do force John Swinney to resign... that would result in the Scottish Government losing their place as the biggest single party, forcing an early election and then returning to power for a further 4 years :)

    ...no doubting that it will be like all the previous times though... The Unionists will flap their gums and then bottle it from any real fight as usual!

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  • 2. At 11:05am on 24 Nov 2010, rodmac wrote:

    Its a prefabricated storm in a teacup.
    Motion of no confidence? Not a snowballs chance in hell that will carry.

    If the Unionist cabal are really thick enough to try and force one, expect the Scottish Government to stand down, and watch the wrath of the majority fall on the instigators!!

    Today should be interesting though.

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  • 3. At 11:14am on 24 Nov 2010, fairforfochen wrote:

    The Scottish people would have been up in arms, and rightly so, if they had been made aware of the amount of money that had to be paid for these tax powers and I am sure would never have voted for such a con.That the unionists think this is acceptable shows how little they really care for the people of Scotland,but we knew that anyway.John Swinney should tell them to take a hike and force them to vote the Government down and bring the election forward that way we would have it done and dusted then we could all??enjoy the wedding without the interference of an election

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  • 4. At 11:18am on 24 Nov 2010, redkilliefan wrote:

    Is Swinney a goner? No.

    Should he be a goner? Yes.

    Not because a decision was made not to pay a service fee, but because Swinney made the decision when it was not his to make. Whether we are supporters of Independence or not, whether we are supporters of devolution or not the tax varying power is the provenance of our elected representatives in Parliament not the Minister in Government.

    Swinney should also consider his position on other grounds as well; either, he is incompetent – not sure I believe that, or he was duplicitous and lied to our representatives in Parliament – much more likely. In either case he should do the correct thing and resign, this would mean that the Parliament and Government would be held in higher esteem than the SFA (I will not venture into that debate on a politics blog).

    Of course, what we will face next is NAsTy Mr Sammond trying to hold us all to ransom with the threat of an election by resigning from Government. Well then he will be seen as the bullying self publicist that he is.

    On a positive note Sammon is scoring well.

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  • 5. At 11:18am on 24 Nov 2010, sid_ts63 wrote:

    Morning Brian , the ability of any future government or executive to use the "tartan tax" has indeed not been lost the problem is with HMR&C
    Despite having paid £12million to cover this they want yet another £7million because they are the same as most westminster dept's they couldn't run a bath.

    I could of course also ask just what exactly was the previous Scottish Secretary doing while all this was happening. not like him to miss the chance to get his face on the telly was it. As a well known Scottish patriot (so he tells us)why didn't he intervene or was he to busy doing other things?
    Sid

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  • 6. At 11:25am on 24 Nov 2010, DrK wrote:

    Nice to see such a hoo-haa being made over a non-event. Maybe the "glorious" msps of all colours and shapes could actually get back to running the country (poorly) as normal and stop wasting their time on essentially a billing issue for an option that no party actually wants to implement. When they get back to some real business, like that april wedding...

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  • 7. At 11:29am on 24 Nov 2010, Alba4eva wrote:

    #4 Redkilliefan, all you can say to your post is 'Bring it on'... remember that one? :o)

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  • 8. At 11:29am on 24 Nov 2010, PeeJay wrote:

    I'm concerned that so little has been made about the £12M already paid to HMRC by the previous administration for which Scotland has had zero benefit.
    I'm disappointed that Swinney didn't consult the parliament before telling HMRC to poke their charges - I think he should have consulted. It might have put the other parties in the position of having to force Swinney into paying tax money out for something that he disagreed with, squarely putting the onus on the Labour party to explain why we had this agreement in the first place.

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  • 9. At 11:39am on 24 Nov 2010, ResearchGuru wrote:

    If the Government had kept the parliament informed from the outset I think they would have had the support of the parliament and the people. They are right now to suggest that it looks like a waste of money paying for something you will never use. All they needed to do was inform the Finance Committee. They failed to do that and so subsequent statements, especially John Swinney's comment relating to the recent one year budget, give the impression of misleading the parliament and the people.

    It will also be very interesting to see if we find out who knew what and when and whether there has been a communications breakdown between officials and ministers over this issue. A communications breakdown would certainly be one explanation for the words chosen by John Swinney in his budget statement, but would he want to blame his officials?

    In the great scheme of things, the people of Scotland are not going to be too bothered about this, but it has been a serious lapse in communications (and possibly judgement) and John Swinney had better come up with a robust explanation and a sincere apology if he is going to be allowed to move on and deal with the difficult budget negotiations.

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  • 10. At 11:39am on 24 Nov 2010, GrassyKnollington wrote:

    Gate is an overused word for scandals I'll admit but the many thousands of Scots who don't regard themselves as British Nationalists would welcome "BBC-Gate".

    Full scrutiny of this story would have been welcome but as usual we have assorted loyal unionists and eager Brits handing round the big SNP beating stick instead of any meaningful analysis.

    How on earth can people make up their minds about the truth of this matter when the facts presented are so utterly skewed to an anti-SNP narrative?

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  • 11. At 11:41am on 24 Nov 2010, heraldnomore wrote:

    Well Brian, still no recognition of the First Minister's reply to the Scottish Secretary, you know, the one that was copied to the BBC, the one the BBC or the rest of the written press won't publish? Have you looked at the latest article on Moore, unmentionable site,?

    Yes I await with interest Swinney's statement, and then an impartial reaction and analysis. Wonder where I'll get that?

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  • 12. At 11:41am on 24 Nov 2010, snowthistle wrote:

    PeeJay #8,
    Would have to agree with you PeeJay, I can't understand why he didn't consult. Seems like a missed opportunity.

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  • 13. At 11:47am on 24 Nov 2010, rodmac wrote:

    I am frankly incredulous that some folk are
    1. Believing that the power to alter tax has been lost. It would take an amendment to the act at Westminster to do that.
    2. Howling because John Swinney told HMRC to go away and think again, that an increased payment of 7million on top of the 12million already paid for a system never likely to be used is desirable!!
    3.That its ok for the Condems to try and work a flanker and try and get Scotland to pay for a system that under the terms of settlement, require Westminster to stump up for the costs of the machinery for devolution, and charge us a damn sight more for the proposed Calman taxation.

    The only question of any substance that can be aimed at Swinney, is whether or not he should have informed Parliament at this stage of these developments?
    He may be on a rocky footing there, but given that it is only now that he has had any response to his query in August to HMRC as to why and how they came to be asking for 7million? To which he has still has had no reply back from them!! And thus could say that there has been nothing to report of substance.

    I really fail to see how otherwise he has acted incorrectly.
    Nobody was using it, nobody was proposing to even consider using it, apart from the Greens possibly? And the chances of them getting anywhere near Government is as likely as Brian getting awarded slimmer of the year award!!

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  • 14. At 11:51am on 24 Nov 2010, Alba4eva wrote:

    #9 David Primrose; "If the Government had kept the parliament informed from the outset I think they would have had the support of the parliament and the people."

    ...The people yes, but you honestly think Labour would not have opposed the SNP government as they ALWAYS do!

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  • 15. At 12:00pm on 24 Nov 2010, The_Concept_Of_Mind wrote:

    Hmmm ... Brian issues a challenge ...

    How about 'Moor(e)Gate' or (following DrK at 6) 'BillingsGate' ??? ... Too London - centric ??? ...

    After much winding - in of necks by several posters following the Nippy Sweety's contrition (having attempted wrong - headedly to soften punishment for a constituent convicted of fraud, by writing to the Judge/Sherrif), there should be much limbering up now by those same posters in preparation for a similar workout; John SwiZZZzzz will flay himself mercilessly, taking the view that it's better coming from him than some pointless flunkey from what passes for the opposition ...

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  • 16. At 12:01pm on 24 Nov 2010, Iain wrote:

    This is all nonsense. Michael Murphy wrote in his letter
    "You will be aware that the arrangements between HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and the then Scottish Executive, put in place at the commencement of devolution and intended to ensure the SVR of income tax could be invoked within 10 months, lapsed in 2007"

    The "arrangements" lapsed not the powers themselves. Doesn't anyone want to tell the truth anymore? The new arrangements were not agreed to partly because the HMRC haven't replied to letters from the Scottish Government.

    The powers are still there. Nothing has changed. They still won't be used.

    The opposition parties should stop wasting our time. And the BBC should try to find the truth and not make such a mess of reporting the real story.

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  • 17. At 12:09pm on 24 Nov 2010, Wee-Scamp wrote:

    #13

    Swinney hasn't acted incorrectly. He acted in Scotland's interest. That's why Labour in particular is so agitated.

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  • 18. At 12:18pm on 24 Nov 2010, minuend wrote:


    What do we want?

    Tax varying powers!

    When do we want it?

    Ahhh.......emm....... not sure..... not now.... not ever!

    Why have Scots payed out over £12 million for a tax system that was never used, never will be used and will be replaced?

    The Scottish government were right to to tell HMRC where to stick there £7 million bill.

    If people think the cuts to public services are bad just wait until the Unionist Calman tax proposals are implemented. Then people will see the Treasury profit from the decimation of Scottish public services.

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  • 19. At 12:20pm on 24 Nov 2010, Anagach wrote:


    HMRC-Gate should be the scandal of charging the Scottish Government
    for tax options, I dont remember the ballot containing any mention of
    having to pay for the option.

    So are the tax payers of Scotland going to be fleeced over some
    Calman mutation being imposed ?

    The substantive issues, why we are charged ?, why so much ?,
    what the outlook for the future is, all ignored.


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  • 20. At 12:24pm on 24 Nov 2010, Magenta wrote:

    [ 9. At 11:39am on 24 Nov 2010, David Primrose wrote:

    It will also be very interesting to see if we find out who knew what and when and whether there has been a communications breakdown between officials and ministers over this issue. A communications breakdown would certainly be one explanation for the words chosen by John Swinney in his budget statement, but would he want to blame his officials?]

    The staff in Swinney's office are consummate professionals - they would not have missed something like this. And neither would he, to be honest.

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  • 21. At 1:18pm on 24 Nov 2010, NConway wrote:

    Still no showing or discussion of Alex`s reply to the Scottish secetary.why Brian ? BBC biased reporting again .
    Personally I hope the opposition force an election .

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  • 22. At 1:28pm on 24 Nov 2010, minuend wrote:

    Mr Salmond’s letter to Michael Moore is reproduced below:

    Your letter of 18 November about the Scottish variable rate of income tax (SVR) is a travesty of the position. The reality is as follows.

    The then Scottish Executive paid the UK Government £12 million in 2000 to add SVR functionality to Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) tax collection systems. Thereafter, an annual fee of £50,000 was paid.

    HMRC said in 2007 that additional work was needed to maintain the readiness of the IT system, and in summer 2008 made clear that they would be installing a new IT platform. Scottish Government officials attempted to elicit information on what this meant for Scotland and the functionality of the 3p tax power.

    We were finally asked on 28 July this year to pay over the sum of £7 million to HMRC for this purpose. Why nowhere in your letter did you mention this demand?

    Anyone proposing paying this £7 million to HMRC would need to explain where the equivalent cuts would be made in Scottish public spending.

    And even if we had paid it - at a time when Scotland is on the receiving end of massive cuts to our budget from your government - the SVR under the new system could not have been implemented until 2012/13: another key point which you failed to mention.

    In any case, at that stage it seemed an academic debate because the SVR itself is set to be replaced under any version of the legislation which you intend to introduce in the next few weeks.

    On 20 August, Scottish Government officials offered talks with HMRC on the issue of the SVR - an offer which has not been responded to. The first we have heard from the UK government on the matter since 20 August is your letter of yesterday.

    It is clearly unacceptable that Scotland should be asked to pay, again, for something which millions of pounds have previously been paid for. If HMRC choose to replace their IT systems, that is clearly a matter for them. However, anyone would expect them in specifying their new systems to replicate the functionality of the old.

    No Scottish administration has used the 3p tax power, none of the main parties in Scotland advocate using it now, and it is intended to be overtaken by the Tory/Lib Dem Calman financial proposals - flawed measures which, had they been established for the start of the current spending review, would have resulted in the Scottish Budget being £900 million lower in 2009/10.

    The real issue, therefore, would appear to be about the future.

    You stated - as did Danny Alexander in his letter to me of 20 October this year about the Spending Review settlement - that: "it is an established principle that the costs of devolution should be met from the Scottish Budget."

    This is not the case - in fact, the opposite is true.

    HM Treasury's recently-updated Statement of Funding Policy states at paragraph 3.2.8 that:

    "Where decisions of United Kingdom departments or agencies lead to additional costs for any of the devolved administrations, where other arrangements do not exist automatically to adjust for such extra costs, the body whose decision leads to the additional cost will meet that cost."

    The clear impression can only be that your letter was not about the cost of financial powers that are going to be superseded, but rather about establishing a precedent for the Scottish Government paying to install and administer the Calman tax proposals - which unlike the SVR will require to be used every year.

    Given the huge pressures on the Scottish public purse because of your government's spending cuts - and the further threat to our budget from the Calman proposals themselves - we need answers to these key questions as a matter of urgency:

    How much is the UK Government intending to ask the Scottish Government to pay for the Calman tax powers - measures which could reduce Scotland's budget, as indicated above?

    When do you propose asking the Scottish Government, and therefore the Scottish people, to pay?

    Exactly when would these financial powers be capable of being implemented?

    A copy of this letter goes, like yours, to Annabel Goldie MSP, Iain Gray MSP, Margo MacDonald MSP, Tavish Scott MSP, Patrick Harvie MSP, and David Gauke MP, and also to the leaders of the Scottish parties at Westminster: Angus Robertson MP, Ann McKechin MP, and David Mundell MP. I am also sending copies to John Swinney and Fiona Hyslop.

    Given that you released your letter to the media, I am also releasing this.

    ALEX SALMOND

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  • 23. At 1:31pm on 24 Nov 2010, sid_ts63 wrote:

    #16 Ian, afternoon,
    "the powers are still there. nothing has changed.they still won't be used."
    2 out of 3 ain't bad.
    nothing has changed- sorry but yes it has! the Scottish government told HMRC to get lost whilst previous administrations did as they were told OH and they never told anyone about the charges or the annual fee .
    hey it's only £12 million

    If you want to find out why the con dems are so desperate to set the precedent find your self a copy of "Serving Scotland Better" AKA the calman report around page 104 paragraph's 3.176.-3.179 for starters!
    Sid

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  • 24. At 1:38pm on 24 Nov 2010, Skeerbs wrote:

    I must say I am more than happy that the Scottish Government decided not to pay the English for the privilege of being able to tax ourselves, or to pay into their failed IT projects. It would have been money down the drain that was better spent in Scotland. That Labour and the ConLib-ToryCrats want Scotland to keep paying to England shows just how much (how little?) they really care about Scotland.

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  • 25. At 2:23pm on 24 Nov 2010, Paul McDonald wrote:

    The Scottish Government has NOT lost the power to vary tax. They are granted powers via law, not software. Reporting the issue as if the Scottish Government is abandoning powers is wrong and misleading. To listen to the opposition parties demand an apology from Swinney for "misleading parliament" while themselves misleading the Scottish people on this entire issue (with the help of their media mouthpiece, the BBC) makes my stomach churn.

    Granetd, Swinney should probably have informed Parliament that the unreasonable HMRC demands and his subsequent (and sensible) refusal to meet them would put a delay on any decision to invoke the SVR. The contrived anger, and the blood-thirsty behaviour of the opposition on this however, is far more questionable than Swinney's inability to update Parliament on the development of HMRC IT systems.

    Far more important to the Scottish people: When is anyone ever going to hold opposition parties to account for their behaviour and their outrageous political spin on these kinds of issues? Is that part of your job, Brian?

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  • 26. At 2:35pm on 24 Nov 2010, Paul McDonald wrote:

    Another point missed in this story......

    This all started when the SNP came to power in 2007. Question: Why did the (then) Labour government immediately demand 7million from the new Scottish Government for an HMRC IT upgrade? And why, as is now being reported, did the annual maintenance fee jump from 50,000 to 1.3million simply because the SNP was now in power?

    Could it be that London Labour contrived to try and fleece the Scottish people because they failed to return their Edinburgh poodles to Holyrood?

    Lots of important unanswered (and unasked) questions here.

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  • 27. At 2:35pm on 24 Nov 2010, Anagach wrote:


    I have sent a complaint to be BBC regarding the factual error in
    its headlines regarding the "loss of tax powers" since no powers
    have been lost.



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  • 28. At 2:39pm on 24 Nov 2010, Paul McDonald wrote:

    Another point missed in this story......

    This all started when the SNP came to power in 2007. Question: Why did the (then) Labour government immediately demand 7million from the new Scottish Government for an HMRC IT upgrade?

    And why, as is now being reported, did the annual maintenance fee jump from 50,000 to 1.3million simply because the SNP was now in power?

    Could it be that London Labour contrived to try and fleece the Scottish people because they failed to return their Edinburgh poodles to Holyrood? Were they trying to slip some dodgy invoices under the door of Bute House during the change of ownership? If so, were the previous Lib/Lab administration aware that this was going to happen? Complicit perhaps?

    Lots of important unanswered (and unasked) questions here.

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  • 29. At 2:43pm on 24 Nov 2010, Paul McDonald wrote:

    #27, well done!

    If the BBC refuse to hold the behaviour of the opposition parties to account, then perhaps someone needs to hold the behaviour of the BBC to account.

    If those complaints ever do make it on to their "audience logs" (if such things even exist), then perhaps someone might eventually get the picture.

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  • 30. At 2:45pm on 24 Nov 2010, kenstor wrote:

    cant pay £7m for what the scottish people voted for in the referendum.
    but easily hand out £8.5m for a bagpipe blowing, kilt swirling load of drivel called "the gathering".
    well. there is is.
    kinda sums it all up eh!

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  • 31. At 3:05pm on 24 Nov 2010, Skip_NC wrote:

    Greetings from Raleigh, North Carolina. Listening to the "debate" right now. What amazes me is that there is a ten-month lead time to implement the SVR. As a former employee of the good old Inland Revenue, I do have to wonder why there is such a delay. When the UK government presents its budget, it takes two months, give or take a few days, to implement new rates, allowances and rate bands for the whole of the UK.

    Now, an uncharitable person may argue that this whole episode sounds like extortion by the UK establishment (ie, paying of money for no real benefit to the payer - the Scottish taxpayer). Of course, I could never make such an allegation.

    What's that creature waddling and quacking over there?

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  • 32. At 3:07pm on 24 Nov 2010, pabroon74 wrote:

    Read Salmond's letter above (if it hasn't already been deleted.)

    The Scottish Government were not liable for the £7 million in the first place.

    "HM Treasury's recently-updated Statement of Funding Policy states at paragraph 3.2.8 that:

    "Where decisions of United Kingdom departments or agencies lead to additional costs for any of the devolved administrations, where other arrangements do not exist automatically to adjust for such extra costs, the body whose decision leads to the additional cost will meet that cost."

    /quote. There, for the avoidance of your confusion.

    ;)

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  • 33. At 3:13pm on 24 Nov 2010, reincarnation wrote:

    28. Paul McDonald

    Section 80 of the Scotland Act states that "The Scottish Ministers may reimburse any Minister of the Crown or government department for administrative expenses incurred by virtue of this Part [of the Act concerning SVR]".

    It does NOT say that "The Scottish Ministers SHALL reimburse any Minister of the Crown or government department for administrative expenses"

    The difference is important. IF HMRC are correct then any UK Department (eg DHSS) that employs people in Scotland would be entitled to charge the Scottish Government any amount it wished for their "administrative expenses" in their payroll software.

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  • 34. At 3:15pm on 24 Nov 2010, Skip_NC wrote:

    Patrick Harvie has just made, in my view, a constructive speech - the first one so far. Why is it so difficult for the other parties to do the same? Will the electorate remember this next May? Alas, probably not.

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  • 35. At 3:33pm on 24 Nov 2010, pabroon74 wrote:

    All the reports about the Scottish Government and Swinney 'losing' SVR powers...

    I've complained to the BBC too. Its just not true, at best its shoddy reporting, at worst its a blatant & deliberate misrepresentation of the facts and given the SG is not liable in the first place, that it is factually incorrect is doubley* the case.

    Ta.

    * If doubley isn't a word; it should be.

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  • 36. At 3:34pm on 24 Nov 2010, minuend wrote:


    BREAKING NEWS: IT TRANSPIRES THAT TAX VARYING POWERS HAD LAPSED UNDER THE PREVIOUS LAB-LIB ADMINISTRATION IN 2007.

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  • 37. At 3:38pm on 24 Nov 2010, PeeJay wrote:

    #34. Skip_NC

    In the Scottish Parliament, constructive debate leads only to a sense of adequacy, which for most of the unionist politicians is a bad thing in a parliament that they use merely as a political grandstanding arena.
    Labour, the Tories and the LibDems seem incapable of actually using the Parliament for the betterment of Scotland and its people.

    I don't think a great percentage of the Scottish electorate will remember the behavious of the opposition parties as they'll still vote as their grandfathers did.
    ...and get the same result ultimately.

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  • 38. At 4:00pm on 24 Nov 2010, rodmac wrote:

    The SNP Government should stand down now and force a snap election. Lets see if the Scottish people are happy with Labours higher tax strategy and also in paying 7 million to HMRC in order to send the money back into Westminster coffers to pay for the ability to raise our own taxes.

    Yummy, I really want us all to be taxed more, it can't come soon enough.

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  • 39. At 4:01pm on 24 Nov 2010, heraldnomore wrote:

    so ahving heard all that would you rather hand over the strings to Scotland's purse, the control over the crumbs we get from Westminster, to Andy Kerr, the PFI man?

    thought not, move on

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  • 40. At 4:01pm on 24 Nov 2010, Sheneval wrote:

    Brian,

    I like John Swinney - I think he is a decent and honourable man.

    However, he seems to have made a mistake on this issue, purely on the question of not advising Parliament what was going on at an earlier time.

    In view of this, he should make a full apology for his failure to do so. If this does not satisfy the baying mob then so be it.

    This in no way excuses the Scottish Secretary for disguising the full facts of the matter in his Press release.

    I would again raise the question as to how Westminster intend to replace SVR with Calman when the former was the will of the Scottish people whilst the latter has never been tested.

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  • 41. At 4:01pm on 24 Nov 2010, Skeerbs wrote:

    Iain Gray, "precise" oh man, Brian you ow me a new keyboard for that one. I had just taken a sip of tea, and I laughed so hard it came out my nose. Jeez, Iain Gray's performance was more like a a primary school kid trying to win a debate on keeping school uniforms. The man was woollier than a flock of sheep.

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  • 42. At 4:06pm on 24 Nov 2010, spagan wrote:

    "Storm in Teacup - SNP to blame - Shock! Horror!"
    Poor poor Andy Kerr and Ian Grey - maths just not their strongest subjects.
    Perhaps John Swinney will give them some private tuition on how not to waste scarce public finances?
    Slainte Mhor

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  • 43. At 4:12pm on 24 Nov 2010, govanite wrote:

    point of fact Brian, Salmond became first Minister on the Wednesday 16th May 2007 - a day all nationalist remember well - his ministers were appointed after that, so later than the 14th - the tax system was broken on Joke McDonald's watch

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  • 44. At 4:24pm on 24 Nov 2010, pabroon74 wrote:

    The irritating thing about this is the people who's votes matter (the floaters) will skim over this topic and blame the SNP. They'll see the headlines and by dint of apathy not bother to read up on the ins and outs.

    Disappointing: a cynical (nay dishonest) strategy from opposition parties coupled with shoddy reportage from the beeb.

    Not good at all.

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  • 45. At 4:31pm on 24 Nov 2010, minuend wrote:

    Brian Taylor, "The document produced by the Scottish Government dates from 14 May 2007, just after Mr Swinney entered office."

    FACT: John Swinney assumed office on 17 May 2007.

    Care to correct your statement Brian? Otherwise you will be accused of making misleading statements.

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  • 46. At 4:33pm on 24 Nov 2010, CassiusClaymore wrote:

    Brian

    Major error. 14th May 2007 predates John Swinney's appointment by two days.

    So....who's to blame for the administrative structure not being in place?

    I am sure that the BBC didn't intentionally try to mislead us....

    CC

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  • 47. At 4:35pm on 24 Nov 2010, minuend wrote:

    Brian Taylor, "The document produced by the Scottish Government dates from 14 May 2007, just after Mr Swinney entered office."

    Fact: The previous incumbent was Tom McCabe from 4 October 2004 to 16 May 2007.




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  • 48. At 4:37pm on 24 Nov 2010, zorbathejock wrote:

    The powers had lapsed before the SNP government had taken over.Will the Lab/Lib coalition leaders apologize for not informing parliament?Don't hold your breath. We'll get unbiased reporting before that happens.

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  • 49. At 4:41pm on 24 Nov 2010, Freenonbrit wrote:

    #41 R
    Yes, Iain Gray 'coldly precise' - a description which gives the impression of intelligent, incisive criticism by someone with gravitas, someone respected. Laughable: he would be an apt recipient of Denis Healey's comment on Geoffrey Howe: "Being attacked by the Rt. Hon. gentleman is like being savaged by a dead sheep." Gray comes with health warning: 'may cause drowsiness'.

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  • 50. At 4:49pm on 24 Nov 2010, ResearchGuru wrote:

    John Swinney's supporters on this site (and there appear to be many!) seem to be happy with his explanation and his stated regret. Fair enough. What I still don't understand is why The Scopttish Government were happy to even refer to SVR in the budget statement as if it were a viable option within the budget's timeframe when they must have known that is was not vable at all. The wording in the Draft Budget is

    "In accordance with the agreement between the Scottish Government and
    the Parliament’s Finance Committee on the budget process, the Scottish
    Government confirms that it will not use the existing tax varying powers in 2010-11."

    It is a factually correct statement. But, knowing what we know now about the SVR, it seems that an opportunity to explain where we were at with SVR was missed.

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  • 51. At 4:55pm on 24 Nov 2010, DrK wrote:

    Regardless of blame does it really matter? Its something that no party wants to use, no party has used, is based off a system that is about to change anyway and in the end has saved £7M...

    Only the media and petty politicians (on both sides) actually care. I doubt most of the public do.

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  • 52. At 4:55pm on 24 Nov 2010, minuend wrote:


    Still waiting for a correction.

    Tom McCabe, Labour was the Finance Minister when the tax varying powers lapsed.

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  • 53. At 5:02pm on 24 Nov 2010, minuend wrote:


    It is now 5:01 pm and Brian Taylor has not corrected his misleading statement.

    Perhaps an apology is forthcoming.

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  • 54. At 5:03pm on 24 Nov 2010, tamO wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 55. At 5:12pm on 24 Nov 2010, inmykip wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 56. At 5:15pm on 24 Nov 2010, Anagach wrote:

    54. At 5:03pm on 24 Nov 2010, tamO wrote:
    apologizing to a collection of unionist rabble


    You have a strong point. But they are a minority administration and
    they have to play procedural issues close to the line.

    As for the BBC and the complete bias shown in many sectors of the MSM
    you have to balance a hard attitude in attacking them with the risk of
    alienating the middle ground.

    Best just to point out the factual errors that crop up in reporting.

    Sadly if you are looking for a Scottish Government to stand up to
    a Westminster ConDem cabal you will look long and hard. Only the SNP
    have a desire to, and their room for manouvre within the current
    settlement is very limited.

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  • 57. At 5:16pm on 24 Nov 2010, inmykip wrote:

    #54 they done wrong, it should have been brought too public attention sooner rather than later, but I accept Mr Swinney's apology and I am willing to move on, as for the Unionist rabble that passes for an opposition I really could give a .... what they think.....if they do think......which is doubtful.

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  • 58. At 5:21pm on 24 Nov 2010, spagan wrote:

    50 David
    Doh! I think that was what John was apologising for?
    Pity that the LibLabs didn't apologise for mothballing it in the first place? Or does that not matter because they are Unionists?
    Slainte Mhor

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  • 59. At 5:22pm on 24 Nov 2010, NConway wrote:

    Time for a scottish election ????? lest hope so

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  • 60. At 5:22pm on 24 Nov 2010, tamO wrote:

    this is the same stuff we got in the run up to the British general election and now in the run in to the scottish elections, its here we go again talking about being punched drunk. kick me and the snp say kick me again.
    its about time some of the nationalists in the snp start get a backbone

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  • 61. At 5:27pm on 24 Nov 2010, David Sterratt wrote:

    This member of the Scottish electorate is dismayed to discover that the SNP Government appears to have allowed the Scottish Parliament's ability to vary tax in the next two or three budgets to lapse. Eleven years ago I (and more than a million others) voted for "Yes" to devolution and "Yes" to tax-raising powers. I was very pleased about the result, though I knew that the Parliament was going to make some decisions with which I disagreed. However, I trusted that any Government would protect the Parliament's hard-won powers. By not giving the Parliament a chance to debate allowing the powers to lapse, I feel that the Scottish Government has betrayed the trust I put in it. I now have little reason to believe that any new powers will be looked after any better.

    I understand the arguments about the cost to taxpayers, whether any party would have used the powers, and that everything will change with the new powers proposed. Maybe there is a case for allowing the powers to lapse. But the point is that these arguments should have been in public in the Parliament three years ago.

    Personally, I have been disappointed that the Scottish Parliament has not considered using its tax-varying powers, especially since the onset of the financial crisis. All parties (apart from the Greens) appear to be afraid to raise income tax. I am in employment at the moment, so a tax-increase would hit me. But I would much prefer this than to see the quality of public services decline and people put out of work. Had we had tax-raising powers, Scotland could have tried a more humane, equitable approach than that taken in England. We can't even try that
    now, when the tax-raising powers would be of most use. Yes, we would be able to use the powers in a few years, but not now, when, arguably, we most need the powers.

    Brian and many of the commenters here suggest that people like me are in a minority, but it appears that I am actually in the mainstream. In a September poll for the BBC
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/bsp/hi/pdfs/1110pollspendingbbcsb.pdf
    55% of respondents either strongly agreed or tended to agreed with the statement: `The devolution settlement gave the Scottish Parliament the power to vary income tax by up to 3p in the pound. To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statement? “The Scottish Government should use its tax-raising powers in order to minimise spending cuts needed in Scotland.”'
    32% either strongly disagreed or tended to disagree.

    One further point: a penny on income tax could, according to the 2008 Budget, raise around £400 million (http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/+/http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/d/bud08_completereport.pdf). In that context, even a cost of £7 million to collect isn't terrible, though I of course would prefer that it was lower, and would have hoped that the Government could have negotiated it down.

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  • 62. At 5:27pm on 24 Nov 2010, LondonSteve wrote:

    27

    I had complained about the original story and how they seemed to be reporting a story based on fiction and pointed them in the direction of Alex Salmonds response which they had. this was my reply

    Thanks for contacting the BBC.

    The story which we published on Thursday "Holyrood Loses Tax Raising Powers for the Next Three Years" did include a response from the Scottish Government and a quote from Finance Secretary John Swinney. We have subesequently published a story today based on Mr Swinney's letter to Michael Moore, which has sat as the lead story on our politics pages for a significant period of time. Here is the story http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-11809080 Brian Taylor has also discussed the letter which you refer to as the subject of his blog
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/briantaylor/

    We have not received any complaint or comment regarding our handling of this story from Mr Swinney's office or from the special advisors or media advisors who we deal with on a daily basis. We will continue to follow the story as it develops in the coming days.

    Thanks again for taking the time to contact us.

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  • 63. At 5:31pm on 24 Nov 2010, LondonSteve wrote:

    I would imagine my 62 wont get passed in which case it'll be on the unmentionable site, ooooohhhhhhhhh.

    Call a snap election, show the opposition up right proper for having zero policies except nat bashing. Thats all this sorry episode is and their desperation is really starting to show

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  • 64. At 5:33pm on 24 Nov 2010, CJ wrote:

    Can you please get the headline writers to stop misleading the public. The power to vary tax has not been lost. It's the ability to collect varied tax that's been lost!

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  • 65. At 5:35pm on 24 Nov 2010, Anagach wrote:

    61. At 5:27pm on 24 Nov 2010, David Sterratt wrote:
    This member of the Scottish electorate is dismayed to discover that the SNP Government appears to have allowed the Scottish Parliament's ability to vary tax in the next two or three budgets to lapse.


    Well rejoice, because the power has not lapsed. Although you may be
    forgiven for thinking so if you read the BBC.

    HMRC or rather the current Scottish Secretary claim that the ability
    to apply the tax would take not the 10 or so lead months but 2 years
    and that this is related, although there is no clarity on why, to
    the failure to agree additional payments from the Scottish Government.

    The regular 50k a year to HMRC appears to have stopped in the
    last days of the previous administration, again this is not entirely
    clear.

    But fear not the powers remain as legally binding as they ever were.

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  • 66. At 5:38pm on 24 Nov 2010, rodmac wrote:

    jedirnbru... I wonder where their media advisors who they deal with on a daily basis belong to???

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  • 67. At 5:41pm on 24 Nov 2010, tamO wrote:

    61. i don't believe that you had any trust in the Scottish Government, that you believe using a system that would like the uk Governments vat tax rise would make life harder for the poorest in society is down right staggering.
    I have issues with the Scottish Government its for there failure to put the referendum in independence to a vote.

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  • 68. At 5:45pm on 24 Nov 2010, Dave McEwan Hill wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 69. At 5:48pm on 24 Nov 2010, RyogaHibiki wrote:

    BBC website (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-11825229):
    "John Swinney apologises for not explaining tax lapse

    Finance Secretary John Swinney has apologised for not explaining to the Scottish Parliament his decision to allow tax-varying powers to lapse...
    However, during an emergency debate at Holyrood, Mr Swinney told MSPs that the powers had already lapsed before the SNP came to power in 2007."

    "Addressing MSPs, Mr Swinney also said he was briefed when he became a minister that, as things stood, the tax-varying powers could not have been used until April 2009."

    So, in essence what the labour/lib-dem parties are saying is that they let the procedures for using the SVR lapse in early 2007 and have only just realised now. The readiness now is the same as it was then. And it's all Mr Swinney's fault, perhaps because there's nothing they could attack in his recent budget?

    Who was it that had to apologise again..?

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  • 70. At 5:51pm on 24 Nov 2010, Dave McEwan Hill wrote:

    #61

    You obviously do not understand how worthless this tax paying power actually is nor what this silly attack on John Swinney is all about.

    The article by Simon Jenkins in the Guardian is rather better informed than the deliberate distortion you are reading in the so-called Scottish press.

    www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/nov/23/scotland-tax-spend-cameron-control61

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  • 71. At 5:52pm on 24 Nov 2010, cwh wrote:

    "" #61. At 5:27pm on 24 Nov 2010, David Sterratt wrote:

    This member of the Scottish electorate is dismayed to discover that the SNP Government appears to have allowed the Scottish Parliament's ability to vary tax in the next two or three budgets to lapse. Eleven years ago I (and more than a million others) voted for "Yes" to devolution and "Yes" to tax-raising powers. I was very pleased about the result, though I knew that the Parliament was going to make some decisions with which I disagreed. However, I trusted that any Government would protect the Parliament's hard-won powers. By not giving the Parliament a chance to debate allowing the powers to lapse, I feel that the Scottish Government has betrayed the trust I put in it. I now have little reason to believe that any new powers will be looked after any better.""

    The Scottish parliament has NOT lost the SVR power to raise tax. The power was granted to the Scottish Parliament as part of the Scotland Act. It cannot lapse since no term on the power was set in that Act. The power can only be 'lost' if the UK Parliament repeals or amends the Scotland Actin part or in its entirety. HMRC however cannot implement the collection of the tax until 2012/13 because of software/computer upgrades unless we grease their processors with wads of cash and even then HMRC's ability to colect said tax would not be available for at least two years. Cost £7 million - so what else would you cut from the Scottish budget to pay for something you do not intend to use?

    As to any 'extra' money implementing such a tax would raise, I believe I am correct in saying that if the Scottish Parliament decided to use the SVR to raise money then the block grant from the UK Government would be reduced accordingly. So the Scottish Government would NOT have more money to spend and the Scottish taxpayers would be worse off without any concomitant improvement in services.

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  • 72. At 6:24pm on 24 Nov 2010, ai_gin_ray wrote:

    70. sneckedagain
    "The article by Simon Jenkins in the Guardian is rather better informed than the deliberate distortion you are reading in the so-called Scottish press."

    Agree.

    Scotland's lesson: the Tories cannot give up central control

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  • 73. At 6:24pm on 24 Nov 2010, tamO wrote:

    The snp are far to friendly with the unionist opposition at the Scottish parliament, this cosy appreciation society is not reflective of working class nationalist opinion in the country. this we are all jolly good fellows, beggars belief. We have had two Scottish Government ministers apologies for no good reason,plus a failure to stand up for a referendum on independence.

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  • 74. At 6:54pm on 24 Nov 2010, DougtheDug wrote:

    Here's an interesting thought.

    Since HMRC can't cope with a change in the Scottish Variable Rate unless they get £7 Million from Scotland and since the Unionist parties have been jumping up and down that they can't currently use the tax they don't want to use will Labour, the Tories and the Lib-Dems now demand that the Scottish budget pays HMRC the sum of £7 Million in order to be passed?

    £7 Million to pay for a power they never intend to use. We'll see.

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  • 75. At 7:00pm on 24 Nov 2010, it_wizny_me wrote:

    I've just returned from George Square, and one of the biggest student protests in Glasgow within my lifetime. Ten of thousands of school pupils, students, lecturers and unions took part in the beginning of a movement which will try and reshape our politics.

    I am in no way surprised that the Scottish part of the BBC website is not covering these events from Glasgow - or the occupations that took place at Strathclyde, and the ongoing occupation in Edinburgh.

    As Proffesor Greg Philo said today, "The BBC is becoming a factory of lies." It, like the media as a whole, are distorting reality.

    They assume public opinion and repeat it over the airwaves until those who feel passive believe it to be true.

    Well that wont work forever. Tonight it was clear that people are beginning to organise, and people are angry about our political system.

    It is not simply Cameron and Clegg - but the idea that politicians exist to manage society and impliment their objectives without listening to the people. We learnt this from Iraq; and we need to act now during this financial crisis.

    Focusing on small, single issues, such as the one above, cannot disguise the reality, that we paid billions to the British banks, and now pay billions more to the Irish banks, and it is the people, and our serices who pick up the bill.

    When Cameron comes to the Scottish Tory Conference, it will be time to make this message clear - Neo-Liberal economic has no Scottish mandate. We cannot continue to allow privatised profits and nationalised losses. In Scotland there is unity surrounding this message, and today people from across Scotland should be proud that the next generation marched in its name.

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  • 76. At 7:21pm on 24 Nov 2010, cwh wrote:

    Mr Taylor,
    You wrote in your 18.05 update: "For the critics, the attention now shifts to digging further into the episode. Expect a committee hearing, a demand for the publication of all relevant documents. "

    "All relevant documents" indeed - will that include Mr Salmond's letter to Mr Moore?
    How can we be sure that all relevant documents will receive equal and impartial media attention when there has been such a glaring omission.

    Will all former Scottish Secretaries during the relevant period be called to tell what they knew and all relevant documentation be forthcoming from them?

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  • 77. At 7:24pm on 24 Nov 2010, it_wizny_me wrote:

    To add a dose or irony to my BBC comments, they have, to their credit, just this instant put up an article on the subject! Perhaps this is the beginning of the powers that be responding to worries, fear and criticisms?

    We can but hope!

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  • 78. At 7:28pm on 24 Nov 2010, bmc875 wrote:


    Brian, you said "Expect a committee hearing, a demand for the publication of all relevant documents. "

    Goody! The SDS Document at long last.

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  • 79. At 7:38pm on 24 Nov 2010, tenswen_dnaltocs wrote:

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  • 80. At 8:14pm on 24 Nov 2010, tamO wrote:

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  • 81. At 8:17pm on 24 Nov 2010, ai_gin_ray wrote:

    I listen to BBC Wales online as it far more entertaining and informative with far more audience participation than listening to endless footy from Glasgow and Labour party press releases portayed as newsworthy.

    Radio Wales

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  • 82. At 8:19pm on 24 Nov 2010, ScotInNotts wrote:

    No sign of AS letter to Moore yet, or accurate reporting of the facts of the matter either?

    However, Swinney should have informed parliament and/or the finance committee prior to this media frenzy occuring.

    It's allowed the opposition parties to deflect attention away from the Calman commission meeting and the meaningless (potentially disastrous) financial powers that Westminster want to foist onto Scotland without redress to the Scots electorate; while simultaneously the same parties in Scotland blocking a proposed referendum by the SNP to decide for ourselves what constitutional and fiscal future we desire.

    The guardian article linked to earlier, while I disagree with the authors virtues for desiring FFA for Scotland (definitely written from a Westminster perspective) essentially makes the same arguement the SNP and many on here have before.

    How about we start to discuss some of these 'substantive' issues Brian.

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  • 83. At 8:28pm on 24 Nov 2010, ScotInNotts wrote:

    "Loss of tax powers sparks debate"

    Brian, how about you or one of your colleagues change the headline so that it's accurate: 'Lapsing of tax powers sparks debate'.

    See how easy that was, just the one word change required and the BBC can proclaim to be impartial again, as is demanded by it's charter and it's role as 'our' state broadcaster.

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  • 84. At 8:49pm on 24 Nov 2010, Wee-Scamp wrote:

    Coldly precise? Give us a break. In Stazi mode Gray just refused to listen to anything Swinney was saying. This was the politics of the baying dog. An appalling display of Labour at its very very worst. I dread to think how he would behave if we ever had the huge misfortune of being elected.

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  • 85. At 8:58pm on 24 Nov 2010, sid_ts63 wrote:

    #75&77 it_wizny_me ,well done you ,it is not exactly rocket science to work out where the next demonstration should take place. down by the banks of the Clyde if you demonstrate outside their front door they can't ignore it or can they???
    Sid

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  • 86. At 9:10pm on 24 Nov 2010, Diabloandco wrote:

    " Some might say ,opposition for oppositions sake!" Somebody said that quite recently but went on to add the " you might but I couldn't possibly comment " get out clause.

    Most pleased to hear that , despite media frenzy/fearmongering, it was only crims in Gartocharn and not the much trumpeted terrorists.
    Goodness knows who those " sources close to STV" were - and who now have egg on their face/faces.

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  • 87. At 9:32pm on 24 Nov 2010, inmykip wrote:

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  • 88. At 10:04pm on 24 Nov 2010, Neal C wrote:

    "More later". Riveting.

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  • 89. At 10:11pm on 24 Nov 2010, Graham wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 90. At 10:37pm on 24 Nov 2010, Electric Hermit wrote:

    4. redkilliefan
    "Of course, what we will face next is NAsTy Mr Sammond trying to hold us all to ransom with the threat of an election by resigning from Government. Well then he will be seen as the bullying self publicist that he is.
    "

    Your ignorance of the situation is all too evident. And not only from the fact that you can't even get the First Minister's name right. Like an obedient little unionist troll you trumpet the same pernicious lies being peddled by the treacherous "Scottish"media. The fact that is that it was HMRC who "lost" the facility to use the SVR - not John Swinney. The facility was clearly unuseable before the present government took office. In looking for a scapegoat you are looking in the wrong place.

    And you might want to try and explain the sense in calling for a resignation that would cause an election in one breath then, in the very next breath, claiming that it would somehow be Mr Salmond (for such is the FM's actual name) who is to blame for necessitating an election.

    The unionist cabal's amateur propagandists aren't being very well briefed these days. One might almost suspect that Iain Gray had taken on the job himself.

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  • 91. At 10:47pm on 24 Nov 2010, Arrrgh wrote:

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  • 92. At 10:52pm on 24 Nov 2010, Electric Hermit wrote:

    30. kenstor
    "cant pay £7m for what the scottish people voted for in the referendum.
    but easily hand out £8.5m for a bagpipe blowing, kilt swirling load of drivel called "the gathering".
    well. there is is.
    kinda sums it all up eh!

    "

    Only to the terminally shallow-minded. The Gathering was a highly successful promotional event. By contrast, HMRC were demanding massive payment for a facility that had already been paid for; was not available despite having been paid for; and was never going to be used even if it had been available.

    If you think forking out £19million+ for absolutely nothing represents good value for money then we may count ourselves very fortunate that Mr Swinney is Finance Secretary and not you or any other unionist. But it does illuminate the mindset that brought about the current economic difficulties.

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  • 93. At 11:05pm on 24 Nov 2010, Electric Hermit wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 94. At 11:15pm on 24 Nov 2010, David Sterratt wrote:

    #71 cwh: "The Scottish parliament has NOT lost the SVR power to raise tax. The power was granted to the Scottish Parliament as part of the Scotland Act. It cannot lapse since no term on the power was set in that Act. The power can only be 'lost' if the UK Parliament repeals or amends the Scotland Actin part or in its entirety. HMRC however cannot implement the collection of the tax until 2012/13 because of software/computer upgrades"

    Quite so - and it is the inability of HMRC to collect the tax until at least 2012/13 which I am cross about because I had believed that tax could be collected from 2011. John Swinney's previous statements were all consistent with this belief.

    "As to any 'extra' money implementing such a tax would raise, I believe I am correct in saying that if the Scottish Parliament decided to use the SVR to raise money then the block grant from the UK Government would be reduced accordingly. So the Scottish Government would NOT have more money to spend and the Scottish taxpayers would be worse off without any concomitant improvement in services."

    This is very interesting, though don't recall ever hearing that before. Could you provide a source for the information?

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  • 95. At 11:22pm on 24 Nov 2010, spagan wrote:

    Andy Kerr's latest gaffe!
    11.20pm on NewsNight - "The digger he deeps"
    Andy Kerr - I thought it was just in inability with twicky sums.
    Seems he can't string a simple sentence together either.
    Poor poor Andy
    And New Labour think he should look after Scotland's finances!
    Inebriation in a brewery would be beyond him.
    Slainte Mhor

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  • 96. At 11:23pm on 24 Nov 2010, cwh wrote:

    Questions to be asked if an enquiry takes place:
    1. If the previous Lab/LibDem administration had notice before they left office of the issue with regard to the HMRC's IT system why did they not pursue the SNP on this matter and ask for updates when they moved into opposition?

    2. Were the finance committee aware of the payments being made to HMRC during the Lab/LibDem administration? Assuming that is their responsibility and it appears that it is their responsibility.

    3. If yes to Q2, when, if at all, did they realise the payments were no longer being made and why did they not do anything to find out why not?

    4. What if anything did the previous Scottish Secretaries know of this matter?

    5. If they knew about it why did they not do anything about it?

    These questions could be asked of course by any competent journalist interested in getting all the facts and accurately and impartialy reporting them.

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  • 97. At 11:34pm on 24 Nov 2010, reincarnation wrote:

    94. David Sterratt
    "the block grant from the UK Government would be reduced accordingly"

    I have to disagree with cwh as to one letter in that statement. The accurate version would be "the block grant from the UK Government could be reduced accordingly".

    Whether or not Westminster you believe they would take such action depends on how much you trust Westminster. The "could" is not questionable.

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  • 98. At 11:34pm on 24 Nov 2010, snowthistle wrote:

    Surely the opposition parties knew about imminent lapse of the agreement with HMRC sometime before it actually lapsed in their last few days in power. I mean there must have been some forward planning surely, surely it wasn't just like forgetting to pay the phone bill. Maybe they should have set up a direct debit.

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  • 99. At 11:35pm on 24 Nov 2010, Electric Hermit wrote:

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  • 100. At 11:57pm on 24 Nov 2010, Alba4eva wrote:

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  • 101. At 00:09am on 25 Nov 2010, ai_gin_ray wrote:

    Democracy or will that get the profanity filter

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  • 102. At 00:38am on 25 Nov 2010, rog_rocks wrote:


    Don't you think Andy Kerr looked dead chuffed with himself and his really really good freinds Derek Brownlee and Jeremy Purvis etc as he led their daring and united raid against the evil Scottish government.
    I was really impressed when he bravely announced that Mr Swinney had just done enough just done enough... ...just did enough to avert an immediate Scottish general election. Don't forget of course how he gallantly chastened Mr Swinney's tail... he had better watch out.

    How is it you "digger deeps the hole" bit again?

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  • 103. At 01:14am on 25 Nov 2010, rog_rocks wrote:


    I wonder how the new stealthy boss Mr Mundell reacted when the courageous pack reported back in, he could have been very aroused and maybe even holey diggeringly deepened.

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  • 104. At 01:44am on 25 Nov 2010, rog_rocks wrote:

    I think he may have used his hamster!

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  • 105. At 07:44am on 25 Nov 2010, Calum McKay wrote:

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  • 106. At 07:52am on 25 Nov 2010, that wee C wrote:

    As can be seen by the comments on this board most people see this as astitch up, the real question is what did HMRC test as part of their UAT, where they are obliged to test legacy systems.

    The Westminster Civil Servants tried to rip us off and Swinney stopped them.

    If they bring down the SNP Labour will lose and this is why


    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=88-LJkT19Xk&feature=related

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  • 107. At 07:59am on 25 Nov 2010, ai_gin_ray wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 108. At 08:18am on 25 Nov 2010, ai_gin_ray wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 109. At 08:36am on 25 Nov 2010, Calum McKay wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 110. At 08:56am on 25 Nov 2010, ai_gin_ray wrote:

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  • 111. At 08:59am on 25 Nov 2010, ai_gin_ray wrote:

    106. thatweec

    That was good. thanks.

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  • 112. At 09:05am on 25 Nov 2010, ai_gin_ray wrote:

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  • 113. At 09:08am on 25 Nov 2010, heraldnomore wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 114. At 09:24am on 25 Nov 2010, tamO wrote:

    this debate is so disconnected from what is going on in the street as to be irrelevant, the cuts to benefits, the attack on education by the uk government which has repercussions for scotland. rather than responding to a coalition of unionists, we should rather be in the streets along with students against the British governments attack on our Scottish university & welfare system . why is anyone here seriously getting their backs up over remarks made by a unionist from the labour wing of that coalition just beggars belief, this is a organization which has justified waging war on counties which still require donkeys and camels to help in their economic life they swagger about declaring their great pride in this war against people who live in dirt poor conditions.

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  • 115. At 09:37am on 25 Nov 2010, BlooToon wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 116. At 09:38am on 25 Nov 2010, Anagach wrote:

    114. At 09:24am on 25 Nov 2010, tamO wrote:

    this debate is so disconnected from what is going on in the street as to be irrelevant,


    Politics is about beating your opponents.

    Not improving life for your people.

    Unless perhaps its taken to mean getting your party friends a place
    at the expences trough, a la SPT.

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  • 117. At 10:04am on 25 Nov 2010, sid_ts63 wrote:

    morning all, my congratulations go to Mr Moore. fire grenade into Scottish politics and walk away knowing full well that the tory's and the lib dums need to run with the story and the labour party will rejoice in the opportunity to nat bash, leaving the westminster government a free run to implement their version of the calman commission while no one is looking.
    the moth balling,or as the BBC would have it THE LOSS of these powers is nothing in comparison to what the con dems are going to to do with the Scotland act. the changes to the tax regime they plan are a complete dogs breakfast that will cost Scotland £millions if not £billions and this is only 1 bit of what they are up to.
    they want a hole load of powers back with "planning" at the top of the list
    once they get away with it look forward to umpteen nuclear power stations ,nuclear waste dumps etc etc .
    you can find it all in a document called serving Scotland better
    Sid

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  • 118. At 10:13am on 25 Nov 2010, Electric Hermit wrote:

    114. tamO
    "this debate is so disconnected from what is going on in the street as to be irrelevant..."

    Then you simply don't understand what is being discussed here. While the matter of the SVR and HMRC's failings may be "irrelevant", at least in some sense, what is at the core of this debate and the content of the majority of the posts here is the utter, abysmal failure and contemptible treachery of two of the principal pillars of democracy in Scotland - the parliamentary opposition and the press. If you think that is irrelevant then you have little regard for the democracy which guarantees your right to be part of "what is going on in the street".

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  • 119. At 10:22am on 25 Nov 2010, Edward2010 wrote:

    I find it strange that certain media outlets still give out the idea that tax raising powers have been lost. This is a complete lie, they are still in place! Fact is the delay to 2013/14 is due entirely to the HMRC software upgrade. HMRC are in a complete mess, which it appear that we are expected to pay or rather throw more money at them to sort out and acheive some assemblance of order in tax raising. I know HMRC is a mess, you know HMRC is a mess, we all know HMRC is a mess, so why cant the likes of the BBC at least admit that perhaps John Swinney was correct in not handing over yet more money. Hope the electorate appreciate that it was Labour, Libdems and the Tories that wanted to continue throwing money down the HMRC money pit. We also remember 2007/2008/2009 fondly for the continual tirade by the London based parties of the SNP wanting to pick a fight with Westminster, any time the SNP administration disagreed with what the Labour UK Government came up with something that was clearly wrong. So its no real surprise that John Swinney was reluctant to throw even more ammo the Labour/Libedems wayby questioning and rfusing to pay money to Westminster, after all it would have been another 'picking a fight with Westminster'
    Interesting development today, after the London basedparties led by Labour want John Swinney to throw £ 7 million down to London, there is a news item on the BBC about the ConDem UK Government anouncing that they will giving the railways (in England) £ 8 Billion for improvements. Correct me if Im wrong but does that not mean that Scotland should get a increase in its block grant due to barnet consiquensials?

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  • 120. At 10:39am on 25 Nov 2010, Anagach wrote:

    119. At 10:22am on 25 Nov 2010, Edward2010 wrote:

    ConDem UK Government anouncing that they will giving the railways (in England) £ 8 Billion for improvement


    Yes I saw this, and looked at the details - some 3/4 of the money is
    going to be spent within 15 miles of London to help improve commuting
    for the usual undead and the newer phone zombies (phombies anyone?).

    The usual distribution of UK investement. I saw nothing about any
    main line, high speed or investement consequentials in Scotland.

    The ConDems, putting the Capital back in Capital Spending.


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