Committee (4th Day)

Part of Scotland Bill – in the House of Lords at 4:15 pm on 15th March 2012.

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Photo of Lord Forsyth of Drumlean Lord Forsyth of Drumlean Conservative 4:15 pm, 15th March 2012

This amendment would delete the listing of elected Members as being caught by the Scottish tax, but it is not because I seek special privileges for elected Members or that I wish to prevent them from having to pay what I believe will be the higher Scottish tax. Throughout our debates today, the Minister has been at great pains to point out that he wants to have a simple scheme, one that is easy to understand and under which everyone would be able to identify whether or not they were liable for Scottish tax. What I do not understand is why it is necessary to set out in the Bill that Members of Parliament for constituencies in Scotland, Members of the European Parliament for Scotland and Members of the Scottish Parliament are all Scottish taxpayers. Why can the criteria not be applied by them in the same way as everyone else? We will come on to this at a later point, but some of us who live in Scotland and are Members of this House are slightly puzzled and bewildered as to why Peers with a Scottish connection have been left out; I will come on to that in a later amendment.

I deplore the principle of having special rules for tax purposes for elected politicians. That is a very bad precedent. My noble friend may say, "Oh, we have put it in here because we were worried that there might be a row over some Member of Parliament or Member of the European Parliament". However, there is an important principle here. We should not have tax legislation that gives Members of Parliament special privileges-although in this case, I have to say, I think that it probably gives them a larger tax bill. I do not know whether, in line with the commitment that my noble friend gave on behalf of the MoD, Members of Parliament will also have their salaries increased to compensate for the fact that they are subject to Scottish income tax. That would be quite a deplorable thing to happen, but it helps to illustrate my point as to why they have been included. It seems quite wrong that they should. The test should apply just as it would apply to Members of this House. I am really looking forward to hearing my noble friend's explanation.