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Budget leak forces suspension of parliament

Alison Johnstone: investigation

Presiding Officer Alison Johnstone suspended the Holyrood parliament for 30 minutes after opposition MSPs expressed outrage that details of the Scottish Budget had been leaked.

Immediately after First Minister’s Questions Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser was the first to raise a point of order.

“It is a matter of courtesy that major government statements are made firstly to this Chamber and not to the media,” he said.

Ms Johnstone told the chamber: “Mr Fraser is quite right, I have made it clear on many occasions that it is my expectation that significant announcements are made to this parliament in the first instance.”

Scottish Labour’s Neil Bibby also raised concerns over the leak, and asked Ms Johnstone to probe the matter.

Stephen Kerr, the Scottish Conservative’s chief whip, said that the issue was a “matter of fundamental respect” to the parliament.

Ms Johnstone promised to look into the matter, but as MSPs returned to hear John Swinney deliver his statement at 2.25pm she said she was suspending the session as she had not had sufficient time to conclude her investigation.

The Deputy First Minister is expected to hike the higher rate of tax from 41p to 42p in the pound and to increase the top rate from 46p to 47p, according to the BBC.

The tax threshold for the top rate is also expected to be lowered from £150,000 to about £125,000 in line with the move by the Chancellor to lower the threshold on the top rate of tax for the rest of the UK.

Secondary legislation has been drawn up to increase the second homes element of land and buildings transaction tax, from 4% to 6%.

The hit on higher earners, as forecast by Daily Business on Monday, will be delivered as part of a Scottish Budget boosted by additional funds provided by the Chancellor in his Autumn Statement.

The Budget statement began at 3.15pm. Mr Swinney began by saying: “At no stage has anybody been authorised to disclose information in this statement on my behalf at any time.”

Full Budget report here

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