Committee (4th Day)

Part of Scotland Bill – in the House of Lords at 2:00 pm on 15th March 2012.

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Photo of Lord Sassoon Lord Sassoon The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury 2:00 pm, 15th March 2012

My Lords, as my noble friend Lord Forsyth of Drumlean has explained, Amendment 53A would require the Scottish Parliament to consult interested parties prior to passing a resolution that would see a Scottish taxpayer paying a higher rate of tax on non-savings income than the equivalent UK taxpayer. Of course, my noble friend has also explained in passing that there is no such requirement on the UK Government to consult interested parties when they make similar decisions.

There are two reasons why the Government do not see merit in my noble friend's amendment. First, the underlying purpose of the Bill is after all to provide for greater financial accountability of the Scottish Parliament to its electorate and give the Scottish Parliament a real stake in Scottish economic performance. I hear, and heard in our previous sitting, my noble friend's doubts about that, but that is the purpose of the Bill. Devolving the right to set a Scottish rate of income tax to the Scottish Parliament is absolutely key and central to that, which clearly my noble friend accepts. In devolving that key power, I do not believe that it is right for the Government to impose conditions on how the power is used. Ultimately, as the noble Lord, Lord Browne of Ladyton, pointed out in the previous discussion, the Scottish Parliament is and will continue to be subject to regular elections. My noble friend seems to be blithely suggesting that somehow the income tax rate will go up and up in Scotland without reference to the fact that it might not be an election-winning strategy. The Scottish Parliament should not be fettered in the consultation processes through the legislation.