Local Government Finance Settlement 2013-14

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 27th November 2012.

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Photo of John Swinney John Swinney Scottish National Party

Clearly, as I have set out, my decision on the business rates revaluation was taken for the reason of ensuring that we can fulfil our commitment to match the English poundage for the duration of this parliamentary session. That was the commitment that we made to the people of Scotland in our election manifesto.

On the question of public consultation, the regulatory provisions that need to be put in place to delay a revaluation will be subject to parliamentary scrutiny and dialogue within Parliament. Of course, that gives rise to consultation in that respect.

Finally, on the timing of the business rates review consultation, after making the comment to Parliament that Margaret Mitchell correctly identifies, I took a decision that I would wait for the outcome of a significant case about business rates, which was heard by the Court of Session in May. I expected to have the outcome of that within a number of weeks after May, but I did not get the outcome until much later in the year—in October, if my memory serves me right. As a consequence, I did not think that it was sensible to proceed with the consultation until I had the opinion of the court on what was a fundamental issue relating to material change of circumstances. That is the rationale for why the Government held off from issuing the consultation paper until such time as the court judgment was with us, so that we could have a more open discussion based on the knowledge that we gained from the judgment. Of course, the consultation period is now open, and I very much look forward to the input to that process from all interested parties.