I welcome Bruce Crawford to his position as convener of the
Finance and Constitution Committee and very much agree with him about the joint approach that we are taking on the longer-term look at the budget approach in the Scottish Parliament, in a partnership style.
There was a strong record of co-operation between the Scottish Government and the Finance Committee. As a former member of that committee, I look forward to maintaining and, indeed, strengthening that relationship in this session with a highly transparent approach to budget scrutiny that dates back to 1998. That approach provides much more satisfactory arrangements for holding the Government to account than is the case at Westminster.
As I have said previously to the Finance Committee, even before the EU referendum result there was already a strong reason for publishing the draft budget after the UK autumn budget statement. That is a legacy issue from the previous session that required to be addressed.
The referendum result has given rise to significant additional economic and financial uncertainty. The Chancellor of the Exchequer emphasised that point just yesterday in his party conference speech. He has also warned us this week that we should expect that the UK economy is heading for a “rollercoaster” ride over the coming two years or more, during negotiations to leave the European Union.
The uncertainty continues, and we will not discover until 23 November what all this really means for the content of the autumn statement and the accompanying economic forecasts that the Office for Budget Responsibility sets out. Both could potentially impact on the overall spending power that is available to the Scottish Government positively and negatively in respect of Barnett consequentials and the calculation of the block grant adjustment. It is also conceivable that the chancellor could set out changes to tax policy, welfare and pay, all of which we would want to consider and respond to.