Monday, 26 January 2009


You would think before embarking on trying to deliver its plans for a local income tax, the Scottish Government might actually have bothered to check that it had the legal powers to do so.

"The Scottish Government is to be told there is "no legal basis" for its plans to introduce a local income tax, it emerged today. The SNP Holyrood administration plans to introduce the charge to replace the council tax. Finance secretary John Swinney has said previously his preferred option is for HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to collect the tax. But it emerged David Hartnett, the head of Revenue and Customs, is to send a letter to Scotland's top civil servant Sir John Elvidge, the draft of which states: "There is no legal basis for a local income tax along the lines outlined in the SNP consultation document." A spokesman for Mr Swinney today insisted: "We have every right and ability to scrap the unfair council tax and replace it with a fair local income tax to fund local authority expenditure."

Mr Smith isn't a constitutional lawyer, but he tends to think that the powers on this issue are reserved to Westminster and as such the Scottish Government doesn't have a legal leg to stand on. What next Mr Swinney? And in how many other areas of policy which the Scottish Government is hoping to legislate on doesn't it have the powers to do so?

No comments: