Chancellor of the Exchequer’s Economic Update

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 9th July 2020.

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Photo of Kate Forbes Kate Forbes Scottish National Party

Rather than talk about the wonderful benefits of the union, I point out that, for devolution to work properly, we need adequate funding. The Tories regularly stand up in the chamber making demands of the Scottish Government to act further and to put in place our own economic stimulus—indeed, Donald Cameron has just done that. However, the Scottish Tories cannot make such demands if they deny us the powers and funding that we need to do what they demand. The UK Government’s announcements yesterday are welcome. I have put on record my welcome for the VAT cut and the wider support for businesses. However, there is no getting round the fact that that bypasses devolution.

Donald Cameron asked two questions about land and buildings transaction tax. On the first, the answer is that eight out of 10 buyers in Scotland will be taken out of paying LBTT. As he knows full well, the Scottish housing market is slightly—actually, a lot—different from the market in the rest of the UK. Tax devolution is about having separate policies for Scotland rather than just matching the policies in the rest of the UK. He will also know full well that the block grant adjustment, which has not been confirmed by the UK Government, does not allow us to fully replicate decisions that are made elsewhere.

Donald Cameron also asked why we cannot implement the change immediately. We will respond as quickly as we can in the circumstances. I had no advance warning of the intention to make a change to SDLT, which was announced yesterday—I heard when everybody else did. I have made it clear that time is required to prepare legislation and for Revenue Scotland to be ready to collect and manage the tax, but we will move quickly. The alternative would be to say nothing and create even more uncertainty in the market, so I have chosen to give that clarity, understanding fully the limits of the legislative process and the challenge for Revenue Scotland.