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  1. Next: Protecting public services and boosting Scotland's economy

Live Reporting

By Ailsa Brown and Craig Hutchison

All times stated are UK

That's all

That ends our live coverage of the Scottish Parliament on Thursday 5 March 2015.

Remember you can watch all the day's business at

BBC Scotland's Democracy Live.

Holyrood at night

We'll be back again on Tuesday 10 March. Until then, have a good weekend.

Decision time

MSPs in the chamber

Finance Secretary John Swinney's motion from the economy debate is passed unammended, with 60 MSPs backing it, 44 against and with two abstentions.

Not a point of order

Labour MSP James Kelly attempts to raise a point of order pertaining to the first minister's comments during FMQs on college funding.

Mr Kelly says Ms Sturgeon misled parliament.

Presiding Officer Tricia Marwick
Presiding Officer Tricia Marwick

Presiding Officer Tricia Marwick says this is not a point of order and that she has told MSPs "time and time and time again" that she is not responsible for the content of what members say.

Economy debate ends

Mr Swinney concludes the debate by saying the poorest 10% of the population have borne the worst affects of the UK government's austerity programme.

He says he can't tell the difference between the Tories and Labour when it comes to austerity and cuts.

Corporation tax

Mr Swinney says the SNP plans would still result in a falling debt and a falling deficit across the parliament, despite borrowing more.

The deputy first minister says the government remains committed to lowering corporation tax.

Conservative MSP Gavin Brown asks when Mr Swinney changed his mind about having a blanket lowering of corporation tax, after ten years of supporting it.

Mr Swinney says he believes a more targeted approach on corporation tax is essential.

Local government settlement

The deputy first minister says the local government settlement has given fair priority to local government, although he does not deny local government faces challenges due to austerity.

Local government

Mr Swinney says his budget has been cut by 4.8% real terms, but the budget for local authorities has been cut by 2.6% in real terms showing the Scottish government has protected councils from some cuts.

Arty bank notes

Trident renewal

Finance Secretary John Swinney says there are choices to be made in political life about the priorities one supports.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney
Deputy First Minister John Swinney

Mr Swinney says one of the priorities of the SNP government would be to not renew Trident, saving billions of pounds.

No 'redistributive policy'

Mr Findlay says there was no mention by SNP MSPs of any redistributive policy.


Mr Findlay says not one of the SNP speakers in the debate had had the backbone to mention the scrapping of the corporation tax policy.


Labour MSP Neil Findlay says the first minister announced her economic policy with a "whimper".

Labour MSP Neil Findlay
Labour MSP Neil Findlay

Mr Findlay says the demand for the devolution of corporation tax and a 3% cut below UK government levels has been ditched by the SNP.

He accuses the SNP back benchers of being "sheep and sycophants".

'Hit and hope'

Mr Johnstone says the prospect that the SNP has set out today is one that is based on hit and hope.

It is based on an alternative economic strategy that has been tried and has failed across the world, he says.

The Conservative MSP praises the efforts of the chancellor.

Tory closing

Conservative MSP Alex Johnstone says the £180bn the SNP say they would borrow and invest in the UK will cost us money, up to £35bn of interest rate payments.

Conservative MSP Alex Johnstone
Conservative MSP Alex Johnstone

Corporation tax

Mr Rennie points out that not one SNP MSP has mentioned the "hand-brake turn" change on corporation tax.

Lib Dems closing

Scottish Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie says he has argued for investing in childcare over the years and he is pleased some progress has been made on that, not enough, but some.

Mr Rennie says that is why he has argued for taking thousands and thousands of people out of income tax and says his party has made good progress on that.

Scottish Liberal Democrat Leader Willie Rennie
Scottish Liberal Democrat Leader Willie Rennie

He says he wants to make the world fairer and wants to make a stronger economy, but we all have different views about that.


SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson says he very much welcomes the modern apprenticeship focus delivering on employability.

Mr Stevenson says all the opposition parties' amendments simply delete everything the government says in its motion.

SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson
SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson

He says the opposition parties then don't welcome £180bn in investment the Scottish government proposes.

'Poverty and inequality'

Labour MSP Alex Rowley says both the governments in London and Edinburgh have presided over a rise in poverty and inequality.

There is real inequality in our communities and Mr Rowley says he has to leave the chamber this evening to go to the opening of a foodbank.

Labour MSP Alex Rowley

Mr Rowley says his surgeries over the weekend have been the busiest he has seen, with most of his constituents coming to him about lack of housing or the fact they were homeless.


Scotland's councils will face financial pressures "of a scale not previously experienced" in the coming years, the public spending watchdog has said.

The Accounts Commission said councils had coped well so far with cuts to their funding.

But it warned that budgets would become even tighter in the future.

Council services

And it said council debt repayments to the private sector would peak at a time when they are set to face unprecedented demand for services.

The Commission said annual repayments to the Scottish government's non-profit distribution (NPD) public-private partnership debt - and its private finance initiative (PFI) predecessor - are predicted to rise from £488m to £600m by 2024/25.

By this time, demographic pressures caused by an ageing population and more children will be rising.

Local authority funding

Labour MSP John Pentland says when he saw the SNP motion he thought the cabinet secretary was making a joke.

Labour MSP John Pentland
Labour MSP John Pentland

Mr Pentland says local authorities are Scotland's biggest employers but most of Scotland's cuts, imposed by Mr Swinney, have been dumped on their doorsteps, with worse to come.

'Vulnerable people'

SNP MSP Christina McKelvie says the austerity agenda of the UK coalition government and Labour hurts vulnerable people deeply.

SNP MSP Christina McKelvie
SNP MSP Christina McKelvie

Ms McKelvie says disabled people are easy targets for the coalition and Labour to attack.


According to the first minister if Scotland increased productivity by 0.1% a year it could:

  • boost GDP by 1.3%
  • boost employment by 11,000
  • and boost tax revenues by £400m a year after 10 years.

UK government

The Scottish Lib Dem leader's motion highlights the abandonment of the SNP's previous policy to anchor its approach to the economy on a cut of 3p in the pound on corporation tax.

Mr Rennie says the economic policy of the UK government has created six times as many jobs in Scotland in less than a quarter of the time compared with the projections for the now-abandoned Scottish government policy.

Corporation tax

Mr Rennie says the first minister ditched the 3% cut in corporation tax "with no explanation at all".

Scottish Liberal Democrat Leader Willie Rennie
Scottish Liberal Democrat Leader Willie Rennie

He says the evidence for the cut was so weak it could never be made public.

'Oil revenue forecasts'

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie says John Swinney got it wrong on the economy and oil revenue forecasts.

Mr Rennie says because we stayed in the UK we can focus on helping the North East following the fall in the price of oil.


Mr Brown says he is pleased to see the approach of the UK government's economic recovery plan working.

He points out that Mr Swinney can not bring himself to bring any credit to the UK government - none whatsoever.


The Conservative MSP says that measures such as raising the income tax threshold and freezing fuel duty have helped household budgets.

Conservative MSP Gavin Brown
Conservative MSP Gavin Brown

He says he is disappointed with the content of the Scottish government's Economic Strategy.

UK plan

Mr Brown's amendment welcomes "the fact that the UK's economic growth continues to be among the highest of the major developed world economies".

The Conservative finance spokesperson points to high employment across the UK and the deficit being reduced by a half since 2010.

He says measures taken by the UK government, such as cutting employer national insurance contributions and maintaining the lowest level of corporation tax in the G7, are providing considerable benefits to businesses in Scotland.


Conservative MSP Gavin Brown is leading for his party.


Every vote for the SNP in May risks another five years of the Tories and further austerity, says Ms Baillie.

'Vote Labour'

Ms Baillie says the best way to avoid Tory austerity is to vote Labour.

'Full fiscal autonomy'

Ms Baillie says full fiscal autonomy would be an end to the Barnett formula and seeing a need to cut billions of pounds from public services.

'Austerity max'

The Labour MSP says the SNP refused to back Labour yesterday in its call to end austerity, they sat on their hands in a show of "breathtaking hypocrisy".

Ms Baillie says what you will get from the SNP would be austerity max.


Labour's finance spokesperson says that full fiscal autonomy, Scottish-only taxes for Scottish-only spending, would mean billions of pounds of cuts.

Ms Baillie says there is not one redistributive tax policy in the Scottish government's economic strategy.

Labour motion

Ms Baillie says her party rejects the UK government's failing austerity plan as set out in the chancellor's Autumn Statement.

She says the Office for Budget Responsibility has warned that this would take public spending back to a share of national income not seen since the late 1930s.

General election

Labour MSP Jackie Baillie takes to her feet.

Ms Baillie begins by looking at the forthcoming general election.

Labour MSP Jackie Baillie
Labour MSP Jackie Baillie

The Labour MSP says: "A vote for the SNP lets the Tories in the back door,"


The Scottish government has revealed in its

new economic plan that it is no longer committed to a "blanket" three point drop in corporation tax.

The switch in policy is a departure for the SNP which promised to introduce the cut if Scotland became independent.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon confirmed the change alongside other measures to end economic inequality.

The UK government has insisted its austerity policies are working and have resulted in more Scottish jobs.

Close up of £20 note

The first minister told a gathering in Linlithgow that there would now be a focus on "targeted changes in tax allowances."

While corporation tax remains reserved to Westminster, the Scottish government has long argued for it to be devolved to Holyrood.

And its White Paper setting out the case for independence said: "This government plans to set out a timescale for reducing corporation tax by up to three percentage points below the prevailing UK rate."

However, the newly published 84-page economic plan, titled Scotland's Economic Strategy (March 2015) said: "The Scottish government has made clear that we have no intention to engage in a 'race to the bottom'.

Economic Strategy

Mr Swinney says the Scottish government approach is to sustain growth in a balanced and sustainable way.

This is detailed in the

Scottish government's economic strategy, he says.

'Social fabric'

Mr Swinney says the deficit needs to be reduced in a way that is not harmful to the social fabric of the nation.

The finance secretary says a 0.5% real increase in spending on public services every year from 2016-17 to 2019-20 would lead to an additional £180 billion of investment for protecting crucial public services.


The finance secretary says Scotland should be in control of all aspects of its expenditure, all aspects of its revenue and all aspects of its economy.


Mr Swinney says GDP per capita in the UK remains 2% below where it was in 2008.

The finance secretary says there are challenges about under employment, part-time employment and low pay, following an intervention by Labour MSP Alex Rowley.

Mr Swinney says despite five years of austerity the chancellor has failed to meet his targets on the deficit and debt, and will have to borrow far more.