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By Martin Kelly
Secretary of State for Scotland Michael Moore has been ridiculed after demanding to know details of taxes in an independent Scotland.
SNP MP Stewart Hosie pointed out that the Lib Dem MP was calling for answers on tax for an independent Scotland when he didn’t even know what the tax policy of his own UK coalition was going to be next week.
Mr Hosie was responding after comments by Mr Moore at a conference for the Scottish Council for Development & Industry in St Andrews where the UK Minister had called for “clarity” over taxes “in an independent Scotland”.
Describing the demands as a “blunder” the Scottish National Party’s Westminster Treasury Spokesperson said:
“This is a blunder by Michael Moore - he doesn’t even know what UK tax rates will be next Wednesday, so his latest contribution to the Tory-led anti-independence campaign is singularly ill-timed.
“The Tory Chancellor George Osborne is widely reported to be scrapping the top rate of income tax for the richest people in next week’s Budget – a move which the Lib Dem Treasury Chief Secretary has described as ‘in cloud cuckoo land’!”
Mr Hosie’s claim was a reference to an interview given by Mr Moore’s Lib Dem colleague, Treasury Chief Danny Alexander, who said last July when asked if there were plans to scrap the 50p top rate of tax:
"The idea that we're going to somehow shift our focus to the wealthiest in the country at a time when everyone's under pressure is just in cloud cuckoo land,"
Mr Hosie contrasted Mr Moore’s pre-budget remarks with those of the First Minister Alex Salmond, who has urged the UK Government to “to unlock access to finance for small and medium sized businesses across Scotland” after it emerged that the much vaunted ‘Project Merlin’ had lent less than 5% to Scottish businesses.
Project Merlin is a scheme set up by the coalition involving the four major high street banks that is supposed to see a curb in banker bonuses and prioritise lending to small and medium sized businesses.
Mr Hosie added:
“It’s a pity that Mr Moore was unable to address this vital issue, which is the clear responsibility of the Tory/Lib Dem coalition.
“We know from the Government Expenditure & Revenue Scotland figures (GERS) that, last year alone, Scotland was in a stronger financial position than the UK as a whole to the tune of nearly £2.7 billion – or £510 for every man, woman and child in Scotland.
“And we also know that the Scottish Government has modelled the benefits of having a 20 per cent rate of corporation tax in Scotland, compared to the UK’s planned rate of 23 per cent – which would create 27,000 more jobs in the Scottish economy in the medium to longer term.
“Compared to the leaden, negative arguments of the Tories and other anti-independence parties, this is the information and these are the arguments that can and will win the referendum in autumn 2014.”