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Non-Domestic Rates (Scotland) Bill: Stage 1

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 10th October 2019.

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Photo of Elizabeth Smith Elizabeth Smith Conservative

If James Dornan does not mind, I will not take his intervention because we are so short of time.

As I mentioned earlier, that is surely the exact opposite of what the Parliament unanimously decided in 2005 and of the Scottish National Party’s stated ambitions for education in Scotland. It would also put Scotland’s independent schools at a competitive disadvantage compared with those in England.

Also, does Parliament really want availability of independent schools’ facilities to be restricted because they will face much more serious financial constraints? Does it want one in which independent schools are no longer quite so able to offer assistance to state school pupils to study subjects that are not in their own schools’ curriculums or are unable to support local primary schools with arts, drama or sports provision?

Does the Parliament want a situation in which the independent sector is not so able to contribute to the target of 1,140 hours of nursery provision, or not so able to provide marking assistance for the Scottish Qualifications Authority, as was stated in one of the warnings that was issued to the committee?

Those are all possible scenarios, each of which would serve to undo all the excellent work that has been done by both state and independent schools to bring the sectors together to enhance education for all young people.

Worst of all, does the Parliament really want a situation whereby some smaller independent schools would close down altogether, which would adversely affect employment in local businesses as well as among their own staff? The Local Government and Communities Committee has been well told that that is a real risk.

There are some serious anomalies in the bill, and I do not think that the Scottish Government has thought them through. We will bring up those issues at stage 2. I am sorry that they have not been thought through, as is evidenced by the fact that there has been no accurate assessment of the effects of the bill. No assessment has been forthcoming in the financial memorandum, which says nothing about the true costs.