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With due respect to the member, it would not be appropriate for me to comment on the issue when the Scottish Executive has recently instigated an independent review in order to look at local government finance. Once the review team has submitted its recommendations, we will respond to them.
I thank the minister for that brief reply. Does he agree that, when local taxation requires pensioners to pay 9.2 per cent of their income, whereas the Prime Minister pays only 0.6 per cent of his income, it is time that Scotland took the lead and replaced the property tax with a fair local income tax?
All forms of taxation will be tested to destruction through the work of the independent review committee. For people on low incomes, there is a council tax benefit system. Indeed, a quarter of households in Scotland benefit from that system, as do 40 per cent of the elderly population. I quote the Help the Aged campaign report:
"The Council Tax, like property taxes in general, is 'regressive' - it places a proportionately higher burden on those on the lowest incomes rather than those on the highest."
However, it goes on to say:
"But the benefits system modifies this regressivity".
I am surprised that the member does not know that the review is being led by Sir Peter