Draft Budget 2017-18 (Timetable)

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 4th October 2016.

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Photo of Derek Mackay Derek Mackay Scottish National Party

I would like to make some further comments.

It is really important to produce credible information—not just to produce something for the sake of it—and to produce incredibly accurate information so that the Parliament’s function to scrutinise a credible budget is used. Kate Forbes is absolutely right—it is about not just the length of time spent on scrutiny, but the quality of that scrutiny. It is also important that what is being scrutinised is robust, accurate and close to the forecasts from the OBR, the autumn statement and the work of the Scottish Fiscal Commission. We will allow those statutory duties to bed in before we look further at that role.

On Kezia Dugdale’s question about the three-year spending review, we are one year into that so there are two years remaining. I have publicly said that I will look at a multiyear spending review after this year’s one-year budget—that does not set a precedent. The joint working group will look at the entire process in a constructive way and will produce recommendations by next summer to inform the way in which we do business in future. That does not set a precedent, but we are in unprecedented times regarding the uncertainty that we face and the increased complexity in place for Scotland’s budget.

I hope that there is recognition that it is not just Derek Mackay and the Scottish Government taking that approach. The Northern Ireland Executive has taken the same view regarding that level of uncertainty, which has informed its position to defer its budget until not just later this year, but into next year. I have set a timescale that I will keep to—about three weeks after the chancellor’s autumn statement—and I will hold true to that. I have repeatedly made the commitment—to the Finance Committee and to Parliament—to provide as much information as possible and I think that that information should be sufficient to address the number of concerns that has been raised.