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Scotland Bill — Committee (5th Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 5:30 pm on 21st March 2012.

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Photo of Lord Forsyth of Drumlean Lord Forsyth of Drumlean Conservative 5:30 pm, 21st March 2012

It is not my idea. It is the noble and learned Lord's idea to introduce a Scottish income tax. We have never had a Scottish income tax. If my noble and learned friend is saying that it is not a good unionist position to have a Scottish income tax along with a UK income tax, I could not agree more. That is what is wrong with the Bill and why I am against it. If you want to go down that road and you have set out the arguments for accountability on that basis, then do it properly and introduce a system that is workable.

Let us leave the issue of allowances. When we have Scottish income tax it will be possible for the Scottish Parliament to set the rate at whatever level it chooses-and not only the basic rate but the intermediate rate and the top rate. Mr Alex Salmond can have a top rate of 60 per cent and a basic rate of 30 per cent if he wants, and you can have a Government in England and the rest of the United Kingdom cutting taxes. Therefore, it is absolutely central to the proposal that there is the possibility-I would say the probability-that people in Scotland will not benefit from wise tax policies such as those pursued by my right honourable friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer today.

When my noble and learned friend says that if you do not have the no-detriment principle people in Scotland will not benefit from increases in the allowances for tax purposes, that is nonsense. It would be up to the Scottish Government. The Scottish Government would find that their block grant was reduced by a set amount, but they could get that set amount by taking the money from the taxpayers in Scotland, who would have benefited from the reduction in the allowances. That is the whole principle. My noble and learned friend shakes his head. The principle is that the Scottish Government are accountable for their spending and they have to raise that money through tax. The change in the allowances means that the tax available to them is less and therefore, if they want to continue the same level of spending, they will have to raise the tax. My noble and learned friend is running away from this because of the administrative difficulties that would be involved in dealing with the allowances.

On the point about there being no amendments on allowing the Scottish Parliament to set the allowances, I shall happily oblige: I shall table one for Monday and we can discuss this again. I shall be interested to hear how someone who is committed to the policy of making the Scottish Parliament accountable can possibly argue against it being able to set the allowances as well as the rates. You would have to have a Scottish allowance, of course, just as you have a Scottish tax, and it would operate in exactly the same way. However, by attacking this principle, my noble and learned friend is attacking the basis of the Bill-and I do so agree with him on that. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 74C withdrawn.

Amendments 75 and 76 not moved.

Amendment 76A had been withdrawn from the Marshalled List.

Amendments 76B to 84 not moved.

Amendment 85

Moved by Lord Forsyth of Drumlean

85: Clause 43, page 32, line 40, at end insert-

"(4A) The following provisions shall not come into force until the Scottish Parliament has passed a legislative consent motion signifying its consent to those provisions-

(a) sections 12 to 14,

(b) section 27, and

(c) Part 3.

(4B) If the Scottish Parliament fails to pass a legislative consent motion under subsection (4A) within two months of the passing of this Act, then the provisions listed in subsection (4A) shall lapse."