Engagements

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament at on 13 June 2013.

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Photo of Alex Salmond Alex Salmond First Minister of Scotland, Leader, Scottish National Party

Johann Lamont forgot to mention the thousands of jobs that will be created. I know that the Labour Party these days does not care about jobs, and I knew that Johann Lamont would not ask about the matter today, given yesterday’s splendid jobs figures, but I think that jobs are still important to some people in this country, which is why having a competitive rate of corporation tax—and then collecting it—seems to be a good idea.

I have been the first to criticise George Osborne for his lack of direction in collecting corporation tax in this country. However, it has been pointed out to me that non-payment of corporation tax and other taxes peaked under Gordon Brown’s tenure at the Treasury. Of course, we know that the Labour Party is at the moment actively advising people—its own donors—on tax avoidance, so Labour is in a poor position to lecture people on tax avoidance.

Let us get to the guts of the welfare report. What Johann Lamont misunderstands is that the administration of a system does not mean identical policy throughout the system. For example, we currently have joint administration of the student loans system, but there are two radically different policies in Scotland and England. In Scotland, we have no tuition fees—thanks to the SNP—but people in England have tuition fees, thanks to the Tories and the Liberals, and they would have more tuition fees in the unlikely event of the Labour Party ever getting back into power.

Johann Lamont said that I misrepresented Labour policy. I was quoting from the Daily Record. If Johann Lamont has got to the stage at which she thinks that the Daily Record is secretly trying to undermine Ed Balls and the Labour Party by misinterpreting statements on welfare, that indicates a difficulty in her party that goes beyond even my expectations.

The fact is that Ed Balls has accepted the Tory spending plans and he has accepted the Tory cap on welfare. Labour refuses to say that it will repeal the bedroom tax, and here we have it in the Daily Record: Labour wants to pay poor people in Scotland less than poor people elsewhere in these islands. What sort of United Kingdom is that?