Finance Secretary John Swinney has revealed that he didn’t consider his handling of discussions about
While Labour’s shadow finance secretary Andy Kerr has led calls for Swinney to consider his position, Swinney told Holyrood, “I wouldn’t contemplate it [standing down] for a moment.”
In an exclusive interview given the day after Scottish Secretary Michael Moore’s letter was published, revealing that Scotland’s tax varying powers had been allowed to lapse, Swinney accused Moore of a lack of “respect”.
“We’ve said to the HMRC, let’s have a discussion and we have not had an engagement with them…and we have had nothing in return and the next thing we get from the Secretary of State is a public letter and at my most generous, this strikes me as incompatible with the respect agenda.”
Moore’s letter provoked a storm of political fury over the Finance Secretary’s handling of an issue with HMRC concerning the Scottish Variable Rate (SVR) of tax after it emerged that the SNP Government has decided not to pay an annual £50,000 upkeep charge for this tax collection service nor meet a £7m plus bill as a contribution to an IT system used by HMRC on the basis that it would not be using the SVR.
While Swinney has since apologised to Parliament for not sharing information about the discussions, when asked during the interview whether he thought he should have gone to Parliament to raise the issue before a decision was taken, his answer was an unequivocal, “No.”
In the interview Swinney also praised the strength and quality of the present cabinet team, and said he found talks about a prospective Labour-led Scottish government, “a profoundly depressing prospect for
The present SNP Government has a lot to offer the Scottish public, he argued.
“I think what all of our polling evidence is saying to us is that for all the great debate about how people use their vote and all of it is that people do compartmentalise their elections and they see the difference and of course, Westminster elections are very difficult for the SNP and this was absolutely cemented by the three-party debates and that we could not be in 10 Downing Street which is an enormous obstacle for us to overcome but when it comes to the Scottish parliamentary elections, people will make their choices about who will be the Government of Scotland and the public has to think who will be our government and that is where we have a very powerful proposition for them.”
For the full interview see the new issue of Holyrood magazine, out Monday.