Land-value Taxation

Finance and Public Services and Communities – in the Scottish Parliament at 2:00 pm on 2nd December 2004.

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Photo of Mark Ballard Mark Ballard Green 2:00 pm, 2nd December 2004

To ask the Scottish Executive when the independent body reviewing local government finance will meet to consider the benefits of land value taxation. (S2O-4391)

Photo of Tom McCabe Tom McCabe Labour

We are moving on apace, as the Presiding Officer is well aware.

Photo of Murray Tosh Murray Tosh Conservative

I realise that Mr McCabe is doing two jobs today.

Photo of Tom McCabe Tom McCabe Labour

It is public sector efficiency.

It is for the independent review committee to set its working methods and timetable. However, land value taxation is included in the committee's remit, and I understand that it will consider that form of taxation as part of its work.

Photo of Mark Ballard Mark Ballard Green

I welcome the minister's confirmation that the committee will consider land value taxation as part of its work. Does he have information on whether the independent review committee plans to meet external organisations to discuss the potential of land value taxation? In the voluntary sector, the Henry George Foundation, a think-tank that is based here in Edinburgh, is at the forefront of research into how public services can be funded through land value taxation. In academia, there are experts in Scotland such as Dr Roger Sandilands at the University of Strathclyde

Photo of Murray Tosh Murray Tosh Conservative

We do not want a speech, Mr Ballard. Come to the question.

Photo of Mark Ballard Mark Ballard Green

Does the minister agree that it is essential that the review makes full use of all resources and external bodies properly to consider the contribution that land value taxation might make to the cultural, economic, environmental and democratic renaissance of Scotland? [ Interruption. ]

Photo of Tom McCabe Tom McCabe Labour

Even applying my best efficiency, I cannot remember half of what the member has said, but I will do my best to respond.

The most important feature of the committee is its independence. We set it up deliberately as an independent body, separate from ministers, so that it could take an objective, comprehensive view on all the options for financing local government. It is important that neither members of the Parliament nor members of the Executive unnecessarily try to guide the direction that the committee takes. I have no doubt that if it has proper regard to the remit that it has been given, which is very wide, it will take on board some of the points that Mr Ballard has made. I intend to meet the chair and other members of the committee early in the new year. At that time, they will no doubt take the opportunity to inform me of any progress that they have made and any intended work streams that they may have in the months to come.