SNP see off 'no confidence' budget vote with Greens amendment

Written by Tom Freeman on 18 January 2018 in News

Labour forces budget discussions out in the open with "no confidence" motion

Derek Mackay -  Scottish Parliament

The Scottish Parliament voted down an attempt to derail Finance Secretary Derek Mackay's budget yesterday after the SNP backed a list of demads by the Scottish Greens.

Scottish Labour called for "no confidence" in the draft budget because it included real-terms cuts to funding for councils.

But SNP MSPs backed a Green amendment, which commits to a public sector pay rise to be fully funded by central government, even for council workers.

The debate forced negotiations for backing for the budget into the open, compared to last year where the Greens secured concessions on local government funding and income tax behind closed doors.

Scottish Labour's finance spokesperson James Kelly said: "We cannot have any confidence in a budget that is neither progressive nor fair and that piles the agony and the pain on to local communities. It is weak and incompetent on tax, and it lacks transparency on pay policy. It is not fit for purpose."

The motion was backed by the Scottish Conservatives. Jamie Green MSP said: "Nicola Sturgeon and Derek Mackay cannot tax their way out of the funding black hole that they have created; nor should the Scottish taxpayers be expected to bail out their failure to grow the Scottish economy over the past decade."

Mackay called the motion "a stunt" by Labour. "Engage with me constructively, do not play games with the people of Scotland and I will deliver for those people in a constructive and consensual fashion," he said.

The Green amendment also included a commitment on low carbon infrastructure.

Co-convener Patrick Harvie said: "Tonight’s climbdown by the SNP shows they accept that their draft budget cannot command support in Parliament, and they have accepted our view that changes are needed to protect public services, improve frontline workers’ pay and invest in low-carbon capital projects.

“Labour brought today’s debate to highlight concerns about the draft budget but failed to offer their own solutions. With only two weeks before the Stage 1 vote on the budget, it shows they are not serious about improving the budget and protecting public services. They are letting communities down with their posturing."

There is no formal mechanism for votes of no confidence in the budget.

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