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Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 19th November 2019.

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Photo of Derek Mackay Derek Mackay Scottish National Party

I am engaging with the Finance and Constitution Committee to set out a timetable that can be mutually agreed with Parliament, recognising, as the committee does, that we need a bespoke process that will get us through these unprecedented circumstances.

I share the concern that we must have a timely local government settlement. I have engaged with Opposition spokespeople and I appreciate the consensual approach to that, but there are matters that people need to understand. We do not have a simple mechanism that would allow a roll-over from one financial year to the next. The circumstances were not foreseen by the creators of or signatories to the Scotland Act 2016. If we do not pass a rate resolution, we will raise no income tax, which would be catastrophic to the public services of Scotland. We also need to pass a non-domestic rates resolution and the necessary orders, and to agree a financial settlement for local government. There are many significant matters that cannot be wished away by those who think that there is an easy alternative process.

Working within the circumstances, I will present a budget to Parliament as soon as I possibly can, hopefully in agreement with the parliamentary authorities and the Finance and Constitution Committee. I set out in the medium-term financial strategy a range of determinants that could impact on our fiscal plans, and they have come true, given the risks, the volatility and the variables that we are wrestling with.

I will continue to engage with the Opposition spokespeople to try to ensure that we have a process that will get us through this in an effective, consensual and cohesive manner, but whatever we do, I call on all parties in this Parliament, in these unprecedented circumstances, to work together to ensure that there is no risk to the revenues and expenditure for our public services. Whatever we do, we must work together to address the volatility, uncertainty and chaos that have been foisted upon us by the UK Government, and ensure that devolution can deliver even in these exceptional circumstances.