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

I was waiting for the big punchline, but it never came. It is interesting that we had got to the fourth question before Johann Lamont evinced a spontaneous reception from the Scottish Conservative Party. Alistair Darling managed a standing ovation.

I point out to Johann Lamont her fundamental misunderstanding. She said that it would take the “good will” of the Government in Westminster for it to accept shared administration of the welfare system. The point is that Scotland administers a large part of the welfare system of England and Wales. I do not think that that is “good will”; it is common sense for the Government at Westminster and therefore is consistent the proposals put forward by the welfare expert group.

Let us turn to a specific policy, which I think has more public currency than any other when it comes to the differences between governing in this place and governing from Westminster: the bedroom tax. We know not just from the Daily Record, from which Johann Lamont wants to disassociate herself, but from Helen Goodman, the Labour shadow cabinet spokesperson on the bedroom tax, who made it quite clear on “Daily Politics” on 11 March, that Labour has no plans to abolish or to reverse the bedroom tax. That point was exemplified by Ed Balls when he said only this week that he would accept the Tories’ entire spending plans. In contrast, this Government will abolish the bedroom tax if we are elected as the first Government of an independent Scotland. Not only will we abolish it, we will do so in the first year of that independent Scotland.