Draft Budget 2014-15

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 19th December 2013.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of John Swinney John Swinney Scottish National Party

I am glad to see that Mr Hepburn and Mr Gibson are on the same wavelength; it is reassuring and worrying in equal measure.

Mr Rennie said that the progress of the NPD programme has been disappointingly slow. I simply point out to Mr Rennie that the NPD programme was brought in to deal with the swingeing cuts in capital expenditure that were brought forward by the UK Government. I accept that progress has been slower than I said it would be, but if we had not brought it in, we would not have been able to fund the Aberdeen western peripheral route, the Inverness College, which is currently being constructed, the City of Glasgow College, the college in Kilmarnock, and various schools. Progress has not been as fast as I would have liked. I have accepted that.

There is a great conflagration about the fact that I have decided to change the level of resource that I put into capital. I say to Mr Rennie that that is purely and simply a budgetary transaction to deal with the fact that, within the financial year, I have acquired more capital from the UK Government but I have also been given less resource. I am simply trying to defend the spending plans that Parliament has democratically voted for when my budget has been reduced by the UK Government in-year—in 2013-14—and changed compared with the budget that I set out in draft to Parliament for 2014-15.

My final comment is to Mr Harvie. I thought that he made a very well marshalled argument about healthy living funds and more exercise being the greatest contribution that people can make to their own wellbeing. I could not agree more. I have tried to make my own contribution to that in recent months. It is a subject that I look forward to discussing with him in the new year.