Swinney apologises for SVR loss
Scottish Finance Secretary John Swinney has apologised to the Scottish Parliament for the loss of Scotland’s tax-raising power during an emergency debate on the matter today.
The SNP had previously taken the position that HMRC’s £7 million bill for an IT upgrade in order to keep the Scottish Variable Rate of tax was unfair, but this was the first admission of fault for not telling the Scottish Parliament about the matter when it appeared in 2007.
All this has led to the unusual spectacle of a Nationalist administration defending a decision which effectively limits Scotland’s powers for several years. Swinney still argues his party is in the right over the matter, and is now saying the powers were not fit to be used when he took office. But The Scotsman also foresees a brewing storm over the council tax freeze for the Finance Secretary.
What no one seems to have answered is Swinney’s reasoning behind not kicking up a fuss about the lack of readiness and the large price tag earlier on. He’s left himself wide open to accusations of shiftiness which Iain Gray and the other opposition leaders were quick to pounce on. Brian Taylor reckons they will get a lot more mileage out of the debate in the weeks ahead.
Eddie Barnes has a good round-up here.