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The Scottish Government will take on their first major new tax power from the Scotland Act 2016 in April, enabling them to set rates and thresholds of income tax. The Chief Secretary to the Treasury attended a Joint Exchequer Committee with the Scottish Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Finance in November. They discussed ongoing work, and there are regular ongoing discussions.
May I thank my hon. Friend for his important question? In taking over income tax powers, the Scottish Government now need to account for how they use them, particularly if they plan to make Scotland the highest tax part of the UK.
The UK Government are doing everything they can to support our economy and boost jobs and growth. Where the Scottish Government now make choices that have a different impact, they will need to explain them to the people of Scotland.
Again we have heard erroneous claims that Scotland is somehow the highest-taxed part of the United Kingdom. In actual fact, the average cost of a band D council tax property in Scotland is lower than in England. Will the Minister now welcome the Scottish Government’s approach to council tax policy in Scotland?
Order. Mr Docherty-Hughes, you are a very curious denizen of the House. I had you down as a cerebral and academic type, but you are becoming increasingly hysterical—very curious behaviour.
The SNP wants to levy the highest level of income tax anywhere in the United Kingdom. It already receives more per capita funding than England, yet Scotland’s schools are conspicuously worse than those in the rest of the United Kingdom. Does the Minister put that down to the incompetence of the Scottish Government or their prioritisation of nationalist posturing over proper administration?
I may not like the Scottish Government’s plans to make Scotland a higher-tax nation, but that is up to them. What they will have to do is explain to the people of Scotland why they are having to pay more tax than their friends and families who have the same jobs south of the border.
In a week when the chairman of the British Medical Association in Scotland has warned that the NHS in Scotland is “at breaking point”, is the Minister as surprised as I am that the so-called progressive SNP Government in Holyrood consistently refuse to use the powers afforded them to protect the NHS in Scotland?
Scotland’s new devolution settlement delivers one of the most powerful and accountable devolved Parliaments in the world, giving the Scottish Government unprecedented power to shape the future economy of Scotland.