Scotland politics

Scottish Tory conference: MEP Struan Stevenson makes more fiscal powers call

Conservative MEP Struan Stevenson said Scotland should be raising all the money it spends to stop the "drift to independence".

He told the BBC that Holyrood's powers should be extended to raise all income and business tax and a "substantial" cut of North Sea oil revenue.

Mr Stevenson's comments came as his party has been considering boosting what the Scottish Parliament controls.

He also spoke six months ahead of the Scottish independence referendum.

Voters in Scotland go to the polls on 18 September when they will be asked the "Yes/No" question: "Should Scotland be an independent country?"

The Scottish Parliament was set up in 1999 with the ability to raise or lower income tax by 3p in the pound, although the power has never been used.

Holyrood, which currently receives its budget through a Treasury block grant, will gain further tax and borrowing powers from 2016, and a Scottish Conservative commission on devolving further responsibility from the UK to the Scottish Parliament, led by Tory peer Lord Strathclyde, is currently under way.

Speaking in a BBC Scotland interview at the Scottish Conservative conference in Edinburgh, Mr Stevenson said he was confident of a referendum "No" vote, which he said would "haul the SNP beneath the waterline".

But he added: "I think then we have to live up to the pledge that we will give more powers.

"I would like to see the Strathclyde Commission coming out with some robust reforms."

He added: "Personally, I would like to see, and I'm not privy to what Tom Strathclyde is thinking on this, but I would like to see full fiscal autonomy.

"I think we should be standing on our own feet, fiscally responsible for raising and spending all of our own money."

Mr Stevenson, who is standing down as an MEP at the next European election, said: "In the long term, I think that's the only way to stop the drift to independence.

"Having had the begging bowl system for the past 15 years since the Scottish Parliament was set up, we have almost found ourselves on the threshold of independence."

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