Committee (4th Day)

Part of Scotland Bill – in the House of Lords at 5:45 pm on 15th March 2012.

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Photo of Lord Forsyth of Drumlean Lord Forsyth of Drumlean Conservative 5:45 pm, 15th March 2012

My Lords, I can see how the Calman commission had to scrape around to find taxes that the Scottish Parliament could be allowed to levy. As my noble friend has touched on the amendment which deals with landfill, I shall, if I may, speak to that issue at the same time to save the time of the House.

I do not really have a problem if the Scottish Parliament wants to set the tax on landfill or on development land. I do have a slight problem with my noble friend's suggestion that it could be different in different parts of Scotland, which he is enunciating as a principle, without it being clear who would set it in different parts of Scotland and who would get the money. If it is proposed that it should be possible for the tax-raising power to be devolved still further to local government so that we could have differences in different areas, the Bill should spell that out and make clear who is responsible for collecting it and who gets the money.

I can see how the development land tax could be used to make it more difficult to develop particular areas; I can see how it could be used positively-perhaps by not having the tax at all-to encourage development in particular areas. However, on the landfill tax-and I am all for competition in taxes-the idea that you should combine raising the revenue with creating some kind of competition between local authorities is a little worrying, because, on the whole, people do not like having landfill sites next to them and local authorities like having sources of revenue. I would have thought that if one was planning where the landfill sites were going, and wanted to have a sensible allocation and availability of landfill sites, how and where the taxes were levied would be rather important. I would feel much more comfortable if this power was being exercised by the Scottish Parliament on a uniform basis. If that is not so, the Bill should indicate how it would operate and who would do it. Just by devolving the power and leaving it to the Scottish Parliament, we may be creating difficulties caused by the desirability of the revenue over the proper planning of landfill and development activity throughout Scotland. Perish the thought that political and other considerations might fall into this, but I am very nervous about the laissez-faire attitude that my noble friend is taking towards this tax.