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  1. 2.30pm: Ministerial Statement: Budget 2015-16
  2. Next: Public Petitions Committee Debate: PE1458 Register of interests for members of Scotland's judiciary

Live Reporting

By Craig Hutchison and Ailsa Brown

All times stated are UK

Holiday time

That's it from us at

BBC Scotland's Democracy Live today, here's a last image of the parliament ten years to the day after it was officially opened by the Queen.

Scottish Parliament

The Scottish Parliament is now in recess until 28 October 2014, we'll be back then, thanks for watching Holyrood with us.

Debate closes

SNP MSP Chic Brodie says this has been an interesting and even necessary debate.

Chic Brodie

Mr Brodie says the intent of the petition and the debate is not to impune the judiciary, rather to focus on transparency, trust and the need to change.

Judiciary safeguards

Community Safety and Legal Affairs Minister Roseanna Cunningham says a register of judicial interests is not necessary.

Ms Cunningham says there are already key safeguards in place to ensure the independence and transparency of the judiciary.

Roseanna Cunningham

She says there are three general rules governing the Scottish judiciary - in particular:

  1. The judicial oath
  2. The Statement of Principles of Judicial Ethics for the Scottish Judiciary
  3. The Judiciary and Courts (Scotland) Act 2008

The minister says there is no evidence these safeguards did not work.

Public confidence

Labour MSP Elaine Murray says public confidence is what is of importance in this debate.

Ms Murray says the issue about a register of interests for the judiciary becomes more important when public confidence is taken into account.

Elaine Murray

She says the Law Lords have to declare their interests so why should the judiciary be different and an exception.

'Wholly inadequate'

Scottish Labour MSP Neil Findlay says there is more scrutiny of the people who make decisions on behalf of the people since the independence referendum.

Neil Findlay

Mr Findlay says he: "Fully supports the proposal for a register of interests" for those in the judiciary, saying we have a right to know of any influence that may affect their judgement, adding the current safeguards are "wholly inadequate".

He says it is an "outrage" Lord Gill has "such contempt for the parliament he refused to attend".

'Snub to the committee'

Public Petitions Committee member and SNP MSP Angus MacDonald says it was "clearly a snub to the committee when the Lord President Lord Gill refused to appear before the committee in public"

Jackson Carlaw

Scottish Conservative Jackson Carlaw says he has "nothing prepared to say" as it is a difficult debate.

Mr Carlaw says: "I always thought it was a rather curious petition", adding he is "not very impressed with it", but it was perfectly reasonable to contact the Scottish government for their view.

In a witty aside in the form of an impression, the Tory MSP says one of his parliamentary colleagues told him "we don't want any of that".

Could it have been his former party leader, once a lawyer herself?

Jackson Carlaw

On a serious note Mr Carlaw says there should be confidence in the judges appointed.

However he says he has a "big problem" with the lack of a public argument from the judiciary, not their position.

Labour MSP Graeme Pearson

Labour MSP Graeme Pearson welcomes the petition and commends Mr Stewart for "taking seriously the content of the petition".

Mr Pearson says many MSPs will have heard disquiet from constituents over their dealings with the courts.

Graeme Pearson

However he says he welcomes the chance to "publicly celebrate the integrity of the judiciary".

Community Safety and Legal Affairs Minister

Community Safety and Legal Affairs Minister Roseanna Cunningham says the Scottish government thinks it is not necessary to create a register of pecuniary interests of judges.

Roseanna Cunnigham

Ms Cunningham details the judicial safeguards already in place.

Petition PE01458: Register of Interests for members of Scotland's judiciary

Peter Cherbi is calling on the Parliament to urge the Scottish Government to create a Register of Pecuniary Interests of Judges Bill or amend present legislation to require all members of the Judiciary in Scotland to submit their interests & hospitality received to a publicly available Register of Interests.

According to SPICE: "The petition appears to be at least partly motivated by the New Zealand Register of Pecuniary Interests of Judges Bill ("the New Zealand Bill"), which is a Member's Bill introduced by a member of the New Zealand Green Party proposing a mandatory register of New Zealand judges' financial interests.

The New Zealand Bill has its origins in the resignation of a former New Zealand Supreme Court judge who was accused of misconduct for allegedly failing to disclose a large debt apparently owed to a lawyer appearing in a case before him.

The petitioner has also submitted a very similar e-petition to the UK Government.

The e-petition closed on 25 October 2012 with 22 signatures and appears unlikely to progress further at UK level.

David Stewart

Mr Stewart says the petitions committee does not aspire to putting a man on the moon, but to be a window to the parliament.

Man on the moon

He welcomes the opportunity to raise the issues in the petition from Mr Cherbi.

The Labour MSP says the petition is about openness and transparency.

David Stewart

Public Petitions Committee Debate: PE1458 Register of Interests for Members of Scotland's Judiciary

Public Petitions Committee Convener David Stewart leads a debate on
Petition PE1458 in the name of Peter Cherbi.


The petition calls on the Scottish Parliament to urge the Scottish government to create a Register of Pecuniary Interests of Judges Bill (as is currently being considered in New Zealand's Parliament) or amend present legislation to require all members of the Judiciary in Scotland to submit their interests & hospitality received to a publicly available Register of Interests.

Budget over

That concludes Finance Secretary John Swinney's ministerial statement on Scotland's budget for 2015-16.

Council tax

Green MSP Patrick Harvie says Mr Swinney says the council tax is an "extremely regressive and unfair tax" and must be the subject of creative debate to replace it saying the finance secretary "can't fudge this any longer".

Patrick Harvie

Mr Swinney says there is space for the debate to take place, pointing out the SNP committed in 2011 to consider alternatives to the council tax and says he shares many of the Mr Harvie's views on the council tax.

Barnett formula

SNP MSP Kenneth Gibson says the UK government has not set out how the block grant of public funds given to Scotland would be affected.

Mr Swinney says the UK government "has advanced a mechanism that would alter the Barnett formula" on public spending, which the Scottish government opposed.

This was "contradicted" by the "vow" of more powers made by the main pro-Union parties during the referendum campaign, he adds

College cuts

Labour MSP Jenny Marra claims more than 800 young people couldn't get a place on engineering courses at Dundee and Angus College because of the SNP's cuts.

Mr Swinney questions Ms Marra's figures, and says his government has fulfilled their commitments to further education.

Homebuyers in Scotland: Summary

Homebuyers in Scotland will pay no tax on properties costing less than £135,000.

At the same time, a 12% rate for houses costing more than a million will come into force next April, when stamp duty is replaced north of the border.

House for sale

Under the government's new Land and Building Transactions Tax, a marginal tax of 2% would apply to the proportion of a transaction between £135,000 and £250,000, while a 10% rate will apply to those between £250,000 and £1m.

The finance secretary also said tax would be reduced for a further 44,000 house sales up to the value of £325,000.

And he added that the 12% top rate would ensure the most well-off made a contribution.

Lib Dem view

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie says he welcomes the progressive nature of the taxes announced today.

Willie Rennie

Mr Rennie focuses on the priorities of childcare, colleges, mental health and transport to the Highlands and Islands.

Conservative view

Scottish Conservative finance spokesperson Gavin Brown also begins with health.

Mr Brown criticises the "eye watering 10% tax on houses over the value of £250,000".

Gavin Brown

Mr Swinney says: "The judgements I have made are fair judgements".

Labour view

Labour's finance spokesman Iain Gray says health spending here has not kept up with health cost increases.

Mr Gray says there is £700m less for the NHS than it should have had if Mr Swinney kept his promises.

He says the use of the private sector has spiralled in the NHS and says on P25 of his budget there is a real terms increase in the NHS budget 1%, a quarter of the increase planned in England,

Iain Gray

"Why is he letting down our NHS again."

The finance secretary hits back saying the use of the private sector in the NHS is hardly spiralling when the rise is only from 0.8% to 0.9%

Mr Swinney says the Scottish government committed "every penny of Barnett consequentials" to the health service "which is exactly what we have done".


Mr Swinney says: "In addition to allocating over £400 million in NPD funding for capital projects, I have decided to increase the Health budget from this year to next, not by £202 million but, in total, by £288 million, an additional £86 million bringing the Health Budget to over £12 billion for the first time ever.

"Under this Government, Scotland's NHS is properly funded and will be kept in public hands."

Housing sector

The finance secretary says : "An investment of over £390 million will be used in 2015-16 to deliver 6,000 affordable homes, of which 4,000 will be for social rent.

"To meet the needs and aspirations of the people of Scotland, this Budget recognises that we need to go beyond that commitment.

"I am delighted to be able to announce that a package of measures spanning social, affordable and market housing will be boosted this coming year by an extra £125 million of financial support for the housing sector."

Tackling Inequality

Mr Swinney says his government's efforts to taking a sustained approach to tackling poverty and inequality are being undermined by the UK Government's welfare reforms.

"Child poverty organisations have warned that, by 2020, an additional 100,000 children could be living in relative poverty because of these cuts.

"Last year we took significant steps to mitigate the impact of UK welfare reform on households in Scotland. It is to my regret that the direction of Westminster policy means we need to take the same action again.

"This Draft Budget maintains our increased support for welfare reform mitigation at £81 million in 2015-16, including funding to fully mitigate against the Bedroom Tax and support the Scottish Welfare Fund."

Child care

The minister says to ensure the benefits of economic growth are available to all "we are investing more than £300 million over two years to allow for expanded child care provision of 600 hours for three and four year olds and 27% of two year olds."

He say the investment will reduce the cost barriers facing parents with young children when they look to participate in the labour market.

Further and higher education

Mr Swinney says: "We have already allocated £12 million in 2014-15 to take forward the recommendations of the Commission for Developing Scotland's Young Workforce.

"In partnership with local government, colleges, Skills Development Scotland and others, we will allocate a further £16.6 million in 2015-16 to expand apprenticeship opportunities, establish new regional employment partnerships, and support employers to engage with and employ young people, to ensure that they have access to job-relevant learning.

"We will maintain our commitment to education based on the ability to learn and not the ability to pay by keeping free tuition at the core of higher education - with over £1 billion of investment - and we will maintain our plans to increase funding for further education to £526 million."

Budget focus

Mr Swinney says his budget is focused on three main themes:

•to make Scotland a more prosperous country;

•to tackle inequality; and

•to protect and reform public services.

Land and Buildings Transactions Tax

Mr Swinney outlines the residential transactions taxable under LBTT with effect from 1 April 2015 saying :

•nobody will pay tax on the first £135,000 of their house purchase;

•5,000 more transactions will be taken out of tax, supporting first time buyers and those buying properties in the affordable market; and

•tax will be reduced for a further 44,000 house sales up to the value - not of £250,000 as has been speculated - but to £325,000

"We will do this whilst ensuring that 90 per cent of taxpayers will be better or no worse off than under SDLT.

"And, as a final rate, we will set a top tax rate of 12 per cent for properties above £1m ensuring the most well-off in our society make a fair contribution to the public purse."

Tax rates

The finance secretary says: " I propose that the standard rate of Scottish Landfill Tax should be set at £82.60 per tonne, and the lower rate should be at £2.60 per tonne."

Hiatus of 308 years

Mr Swinney says: "Now, after a hiatus of 308 years, and in a moment of splendid coincidence, we return to the issue of the taxation of property transactions.

"From April 2015, Land and Buildings Transaction Tax and Scottish Landfill Tax will replace Stamp Duty and UK-wide Landfill Tax in Scotland."

"In establishing these two taxes and determining the rates that will apply, we have put in place a Scottish approach to taxation, based on the four maxims set out by Adam Smith in 1776: that the tax system should offer certainty, and convenience; that collection should be efficient; and that taxes should be proportionate to the ability to pay."

"It is that final maxim - that taxes should be proportionate to the ability to pay - that drives the decisions I will announce today."

New phase

Mr Swinnney says; "This budget comes at a time when Scotland enters a new phase in our economic and political debate."

"The economy has now grown continuously for almost two years and output is now above pre-recession levels."

"As a result, 2014 is forecast to be the strongest year of growth since the financial crisis began."

John Swinney

"The number of people in employment has increased by 87,000 over the past year, to reach a record high of over 2.6 million, with female employment at its highest level since records began."

"Scotland now has the highest employment rate, the lowest unemployment rate, and the lowest inactivity rate of all four UK nations."

Ministerial Statement: Budget 2015-16

Finance Secretary John Swinney is on his feet and beginning his budget statement.


Prior to the statement Mr Swinney said: "For the first time in over 300 years aspects of tax and borrowing can begin to be aligned to Scotland's distinct needs and underpin the values of fairness and solidarity.

"These new powers give us the opportunity to reinvigorate the principles set out by Adam Smith - that taxes should be proportionate to the ability to pay, that there must be certainty, convenience, for the taxpayer and efficiency of tax collection.

"We will use new rules on tax avoidance to make sure those that should pay tax do pay tax.

"Our decision to replace the unfair and outdated system of stamp duty with a more progressive tax more closely linked to people's ability to afford the property they want demonstrates the importance of having tax policy for Scotland made in Scotland."

New taxes

The Scottish government's annual budget, worth about £30bn a year and funded by a Treasury block grant, requires the final approval of the Scottish Parliament.

However, the SNP's majority at Holyrood will ensure it goes through.

The two taxes are expected to bring in between £500m and £600m each year

Mr Swinney will propose the land and buildings transaction tax - which replaces the existing UK stamp duty land tax paid when buying property over a certain value - and the Scottish landfill tax, both of which are due to come into effect on 1 April next year.

The two taxes are expected to bring in between £500m and £600m each year, with Scotland's block grant from the UK Treasury adjusted to reflect the transfer of tax receipts to Holyrood.

Income tax forecasts

The finance secretary will also outline details of a new tax paid by companies and councils when they dispose of waste to landfill - one of several new powers devolved to Holyrood following proposals put forward by the Calman Commission to examine devolution 10 years on.

Getty Images

Mr Swinney, whose 2015-16 spending plans will also include tax income forecasts for the first time, said, despite record-high employment in Scotland, his Treasury-funded budget faced cuts by the UK government, which is attempting to reduce the nation's spending deficit.

He said the reductions amounted to a 10% cut in real terms over five years, and capital spending cuts of more than 25%.

First tax levy for over 300 years

The stamp duty replacement - to be called the Land and Building Transactions Tax - will be the first time Scottish Parliament has levied taxation since the Union in 1707.

Scottish ministers said the levy - coming into force in April 2015 - would have a progressive rather than a flat rate, and it is thought Mr Swinney will cut the burden on lower-price property purchases, making the cost match the actual price more closely.

Woman looking at houses for sale
Getty Images
The way that people buy and sell houses in Scotland is set to change

"At the heart of our approach to that has been to provide a system which has been based on certainty, on convenience to pay and - crucially - on the tax being proportionate to the ability to pay," Mr Swinney told BBC Scotland.

Coming Up Budget Statement

Welcome back to

BBC Scotland's Democracy Live coverage of the Scottish Parliament, bringing you all Holyrood's chamber business live and on demand.

It should be a fascinating afternoon as Finance Secretary John Swinney sets out the first annual budget to make use of new tax powers, due to kick in next year.

John Swinney said the budget would help create a 'fairer' Scotland.

Homebuyers could be in for a boost as Mr Swinney announces details of a new tax to replace stamp duty.

He has said Scotland's economy was back to pre-recession levels, but still faced a squeeze on public spending.

Labour said the finance secretary had consistently failed to properly fund local authorities and colleges.

That's lunch

Mr Fitzpatrick brings the debate to an end.

Remember, we will back with extensive coverage of Finance Secretary John Swinney's budget statement from 2.30pm.

Extending the franchise

Parliamentary Business Minister Joe Fitzpatrick says the Scottish government has extended the franchise to 16 and 17 year olds where it can under devolution.

Joe Fitzpatrick

Mr Fitzpatrick says Westminster retains the responsibility for the franchise of the Scottish Parliamentary elections.

He says Holyrood "must have these powers" calling for their devolution as a "matter of urgency".

Debate close

Parliamentary Business Minister Joe Fitzpatrick is closing the debate on young voters and extending the franchise.

Scottish Independence Referendum (Franchise) Bill


passed the Scottish Independence Referendum (Franchise) Bill on 27 June 2013, after its final debate in parliament.

103 MSPs voted for the bill with 12 voting against it.

Young voters
Getty Images
Young voters leaving a Glasgow polling station

The legislation allowed 16 and 17 year olds to vote in the Scottish independence referendum.

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the Scottish government had long wished to extend the referendum franchise.

Labour MSP Patricia Ferguson said: "Scottish Labour strongly supports the principle of giving 16 and 17 year olds the vote and believes the right should be extended to all elections".

Annabel Goldie, the former leader of the Scottish Conservatives, said using the independence referendum as a "test bed for extending the franchise" was "premature and misjudged".

Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond has called for the voting age in UK elections to be lowered to 16 by the 2015 general election. Labour leader Ed Miliband has said his party would give all 16 and 17-year-olds the vote. So should the voting age be lowered?

Christian McKelvie

Ms McKelvie says cynical voices about the participation of 16 and 17 year olds in the independence referendum have been proved wrong.

109,533 16 and 17 year olds voted in the referendum, says Ms McKelvie.

She wants "votes at 16" to be given to everyone in the UK.

Christian McKelvie