FIRST MINISTER COMMENTS ON SUPREME COURT RULING

 Nicola Europe

Commenting on the UK Supreme Court’s ruling today, First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon said:

“The Scottish Government welcomes the Supreme Court's ruling that Article 50 cannot be triggered without an Act of Parliament. It is a damning indictment of a UK Government that believed it could press on towards a hard Brexit with no regard to Parliament whatsoever.

“It is vital that the Westminster Parliament is now given the fullest possible opportunity to debate and decide upon the triggering of Article 50 and also the terms of the UK's negotiating position. SNP MPs will seek to work with others across the House of Commons to stop the march towards a hard Brexit in its tracks.

“We are obviously disappointed with the Supreme Court's ruling in respect of the devolved administrations and the legal enforceability of the Sewel Convention.

“It is now crystal clear that the promises made to Scotland by the UK Government about the Sewel Convention and the importance of embedding it in statute were not worth the paper they were written on.

“Although the court has concluded that the UK Government is not legally obliged to consult the devolved administrations, there remains a clear political obligation to do so. Indeed, the court itself notes the importance of Sewel as a political convention.

“The Scottish Government will bring forward a Legislative Consent Motion and ensure that the Scottish Parliament has the opportunity to vote on whether or not it consents to the triggering of Article 50.

“We will also use the meeting of the Joint Ministerial Committee next week to continue to press for the sensible, compromise outcomes set out in the paper we published in December.

“However, it is becoming clearer by the day that Scotland's voice is simply not being heard or listened to within the UK. The claims about Scotland being an equal partner are being exposed as nothing more than empty rhetoric and the very foundations of the devolution settlement that are supposed to protect our interests – such as the statutory embedding of the Sewel Convention – are being shown to be worthless.

“This raises fundamental issues above and beyond that of EU membership. Is Scotland content for our future to be dictated by an increasingly right-wing Westminster Government with just one MP here – or is it better that we take our future into our own hands? It is becoming ever clearer that this is a choice that Scotland must make.” 

NETWORK RAIL WORKS BETWEEN GRAHAMSTON JUNCTION AND WESTQUARTER

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Network Rail will be carrying out piling works on the railway between Grahamston Junction and Westquarter. 

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TREASURY TAX GRAB ON SCOTS PUBLIC SERVICES

Police Scotland

FIGURES REVEAL POLICE AND FIRE SERVICE VAT BURDEN

Scotland’s public finances are being drained to the tune of £43 million each year – as the Tory Treasury levies a hefty VAT bill on police and fire services north of the border, despite the equivalent territorial forces being exempt in the rest of the UK.

The UK government has stubbornly refused to exempt Police Scotland and Scottish Fire and Rescue from the tax – despite repeated demands from the SNP and sustained calls from Scottish Government ministers.

New calculations by the Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe) show the number of police officers and firefighters which could be paid for with the cash siphoned off by HMRC.

Police Scotland’s annual VAT liability is estimated at £33 million, which would pay for an additional 1,032 police officers.

The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service’s annual VAT bill is around £10 million, which would pay for an additional 337 firefighters.

Commenting, Angus MacDonald MSP said:

“It’s widely accepted that this Tory tax is completely unjustifiable and it’s draining tens of millions of pounds each year from Scotland’s public finances.

“Our Police and Fire services are continuing to do a fantastic job under the financial burdens of Westminster austerity, however just think what could be done to further strengthen the safety of our communities, without this ridiculous tax bill.

“Thousands of additional police officers could be on our streets, paid for by the £33million tax bill which is currently lost to the UK Treasury.

“And there are much better ways for our fire and rescue services to spend £10 million than on an unfair and needless tax bill – it’s the equivalent of paying for 337 firefighters.

“People are right to be dismayed that these tax rules apply uniquely to Scotland, while the rest of the UK is exempt. It’s grossly unfair and Chancellor Philip Hammond owes it to Scotland to fix this muddle. He should exempt our police and fire services from this Tory tax bill – giving them more support to get on with the vital job they do to keep us all safe.”

Copyright © Angus MacDonald MSP 2017

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