Tough talks to come as minority government seeks partner for finance deal
SCOTLAND’S DRAFT BUDGET plans do not have the support of parliament a week before they are presented for the first full parliamentary debate.
The key financial package was put in the spotlight during Labour’s business debate in Holyrood.
However, in a sign of things to come at the budget faces future scrutiny, the position of all five major parties failed to win majority support.
Labour had sought to defeat the government with a simple motion that read: “That the Parliament does not support the Scottish Government’s Draft Budget 2017-18 in its current form” – but even that statement could not be agreed to.
Fiery exchanges took place between the party’s over who was responsible for ongoing cuts to public services, and whether proposed tax changes went far enough to support community lifelines.
Labour leader Kezia Dugdale hit out at cuts to teaching and local services, stating that “It doesn’t have to be this way.”
Labour have already pledged to oppose the budget. The Scottish Greens and Liberal Democrats, however, could find themselves holding the balance of power over whether the final budget passes.
LibDem leader Willie Rennie asked: “Where is the serious attempts to reach agreement across the chamber?” His party wants extra funding for key services through a 1p income tax rise.
Scottish Greens co-convener Patrick Harvie criticised the “concentration of wealth in ever fewer hands”, also also called for a change in tax policy – as per the party’s manifesto.
However, each party – the Tories, then the Greens, then the LibDems – all saw their amendments defeated.
While the SNP’s amendment was originally passed due to an abstention from the Scottish Greens, the overall motion without the Green amendment was then tied 63 votes to 63.
The presiding officer, with the casting vote, is required to vote against the motion – meaning it was defeated.
The stage one debate on the budget is expected next Thursday.
Picture courtesy of Scottish Parliament TV
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