Ruth Davidson MSP blasts myth of Scots appetite for higher taxes

Ruth Davidson
By Robert Outram, Editor of The CA magazine

23 January 2010

Scottish Conservative Leader Ruth Davidson MSP has dismissed the idea that the Scottish people want Holyrood to use its new fiscal powers to increase income tax.

Ms Davidson was speaking at the second of a series of events held in Edinburgh, hosted by the David Hume Institute and supported by ICAS, featuring the leaders of the main Scottish parties.

Ms Davidson has also promised that her party will, in the next few weeks, announce the establishment of an independent commission to look at Scotland's taxation and public services.

Speaking the day before Prime Minister David Cameron published draft legislation on devolution for Scotland, based on the recommendations of the Smith Commission on Devolution, Ms Davidson said she welcomed the Smith proposals.

She said: "The SNP-Labour consensus would have us believe that Scots are champing at the bit to pay more tax, to fund increased welfare benefits. That is a myth."

Ms Davidson said her argument was supported in a recent opinion poll carried out by Survation, which suggested that only seven per cent of Scottish voters polled believed the Scottish Parliament should use its new powers to raise taxes, compared with nearly 28 per cent who believed they should be paying less tax.

She said that the decision by Scottish Finance Secretary John Swinney, to alter the proposed bands for Land and Buildings Transaction Tax in response to changes in Stamp Duty Land Tax in England and Wales, was just a foretaste of what was to come.

She added: "Like two bald men fighting over a comb, if Labour and the SNP want to argue over the right to pay higher taxes, then they are more than welcome to do so."

Ms Davidson said that the independent commission on Scottish tax policy would "look at the whole basket of taxes" and also at how that money is spent. It would include non-party members, with representatives of the business community, service providers and service users.

She also said that increased devolution within Scotland, from Holyrood to cities, local communities and individuals, was a priority for her party. As she put it: "Scotland cannot, and should not, be run from the M8 corridor".

The David Hume Institute Winter Seminar Series is also set to include contributions from Scottish Green Party Co-convener Patrick Harvie MSP, Scottish Labour Leader Jim Murphy MP and First Minister and Scottish National Party Leader Nicola Sturgeon MSP, ahead of the UK General Election on 7 May.  It has already hosted a seminar by Scottish Liberal Democrat Leader Willie Rennie MSP.

The series is supported by ICAS, the Law Society of Scotland, the Royal Society of Scotland and the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries.

Look out for our new tax conference in Edinburgh on 21 May
The Challenge of Change will explore the evolving taxation landscape including constitutional change and tax devolution, the ongoing debate over international taxation of multinational companies, and other key topics. For more information please email the Events Team

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