Stuart McMillan MSP

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Meeting of the Parliament 04 March 2015 Business until 15:14 : Wednesday, March 04, 2015
Stuart McMillan (West Scotland) (SNP)

There has been some discussion recently about the fabric of some of the health facilities in the Inverclyde local authority area. What capital investment projects in Inverclyde has the Scottish Government invested in over the past 12 months and what does it plan to do over the next three years?



Meeting of the Parliament 04 March 2015 Business until 15:14 : Wednesday, March 04, 2015
2. Stuart McMillan (West Scotland) (SNP)

To ask the Scottish Government what plans it has for health service delivery in the west of Scotland. (S4O-04063)



Devolution (Further Powers) Committee 26 February 2015 : Thursday, February 26, 2015
Stuart McMillan

Can I come in, convener?



Devolution (Further Powers) Committee 26 February 2015 : Thursday, February 26, 2015
Stuart McMillan

Another element is that economies are cyclical. In a hypothetical situation, if the £2.2 billion limit had been in place over the past seven years, the Scottish Government would have had certainty and the flexibility to invest. However, if we had had a percentage of GDP limit, the Government’s opportunity to stimulate the economy, particularly through infrastructure investment, would have decreased when the economy went down. Am I correct in that?



Devolution (Further Powers) Committee 26 February 2015 : Thursday, February 26, 2015
Stuart McMillan

The question that I was going to ask has been partly answered in the past couple of minutes, but there is another element to it. The words “certainty” and “uncertainty” have been used. It could be argued that the £2.2 billion limit would provide an element of certainty about what the Government could do, whereas the use of a percentage of Scottish GDP, which Mr Milburn suggests, would present an element of uncertainty about what the Government could borrow if there was an economic downturn.



Devolution (Further Powers) Committee 26 February 2015 : Thursday, February 26, 2015
Stuart McMillan (West Scotland) (SNP)

Good morning, Deputy First Minister. In its report, the House of Lords Select Committee on the Constitution expressed concern that the extension of the franchise in Scotland goes beyond what the Smith commission recommended and highlighted that there had not been wide consultation on the order. Do you have any concerns about that?



Meeting of the Parliament 26 February 2015 : Thursday, February 26, 2015
Stuart McMillan

Will the member take an intervention on that point?



Meeting of the Parliament 26 February 2015 : Thursday, February 26, 2015
Stuart McMillan

Will Cameron Buchanan take an intervention?



Meeting of the Parliament 26 February 2015 : Thursday, February 26, 2015
Stuart McMillan (West Scotland) (SNP)

I welcome the debate and the establishment of the commission. I ask the Conservative Party to reconsider its position and take an active part in helping to devise a modern, fairer alternative to the council tax. No tax is popular, as we have heard, but the commission will help to generate the chance that a new, fairer tax will be accepted across the country. However, it would be accepted even more if the commission was totally cross-party and allowed for all the voices in Scotland to have a say in the creation of an alternative to the council tax.

Before we examine the commission’s role and the possible alternatives that are open to it, it is important to highlight the current situation regarding the funding of local government in Scotland and the problems with the council tax.

In contrast to what is happening in England, the Scottish Government has protected local government funding. The 2015-16 budget provides a total funding package of more than £10.85 billion, with further funding available to maintain teacher numbers. Between 2007-08 and 2012-13, the resources within the Scottish Government’s control increased by 6.4 per cent. Over the same period, local government’s budget increased by 8.9 per cent. That demonstrates the strong financial settlements that have been agreed with local government during challenging financial times.

The difference in local government funding between Scotland and England was highlighted by Councillor Sir Merrick Cockell, the chairman of the Local Government Association, who, following the 2013 UK spending review, said:

“Every year I meet my opposite numbers in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and they listen to us in wide-eyed disbelief at the budget cuts we are enduring and they are not.”

It is important to review the record of the council tax and ensure that the failings of that form of taxation are not repeated when we discuss a new system of funding local government.

The council tax system is unfair and regressive. It taxes a higher proportion of the value of cheaper properties than of expensive ones and bears little relation to a household’s ability to pay. People on low incomes, including pensioners and those in low-wage employment, can pay 20 per cent or more of their incomes in council tax, while those who are better off can pay 1 per cent or less of their incomes.

The abolition of council tax benefit by the UK Government resulted in the funds for supporting people on low incomes being devolved to Scotland but with a 10 per cent cut. The Scottish Government, in co-operation with COSLA, managed to plug that gap. Without that action, more than 530,000 low-income households—including 200,000 pensioners—would face a massive rise in their bills, as has happened in some areas of England.

Before the fully funded council tax freeze, local communities faced enormous rises in their council tax bill. Across Scotland, council tax bills went up by 46 per cent. Other parties have suggested altering the tax bands to try to improve the council tax, but that will quite simply not be enough. No amount of alteration to tax bands or minor changes can substantially improve the tax. It simply has to be replaced.

The establishment of the commission on local tax reform is a positive step towards devising a fairer, more progressive alternative to the council tax. I am pleased that the commission has general cross-party support, with the exception of the Conservatives, and involves external advice from the third sector and other bodies that can contribute their expertise and experience.

We need to examine all the options that are available domestically and internationally to find a fairer alternative system. My colleague Chic Brodie mentioned Denmark. We can examine the approach there and elsewhere.

I also welcome the fact that the commission’s remit is not prescriptive, which will allow it to look at alternative systems while considering the impact on individuals, households and inequalities in income and wealth. It is important that future local taxes should embrace the established taxation principles of efficiency, convenience, certainty and being proportionate to the taxpayer’s ability to pay.

That will be no easy task for the commission, and I am sure that many organisations and individuals will have their own preference for a new system of taxation. There are arguments for and against a local income tax, a land value tax or a hybrid form of taxation based on property and income, but I am sure that the commission will be up to the task.

I gently point out to the Conservatives that the SNP withdrew from the Scottish Constitutional Convention because the issue of independence was not allowed to be discussed. The commission on local tax reform has a remit to identify and examine fairer alternative systems to the council tax; its remit is not prescriptive. I know why the SNP came out of the Scottish Constitutional Convention, but I cannot understand why the Tories do not want to take part in what will be a cross-party, non-party commission, the remit of which is not prescriptive.

If all the political parties can come to a compromise on constitutional matters, surely it should be a lot easier for them to come to a compromise on local taxation. Alex Rowley used the word “compromise”. The commission will allow a compromise to be reached. The Conservatives do not agree. They obviously do not think that compromise is that important.

I warmly welcome the establishment of the commission, and I wish it every success.

16:11  

Devolution (Further Powers) Committee 19 February 2015 : Thursday, February 19, 2015
Stuart McMillan

Mr McCormick, you mentioned policy areas where there has already been an element of devolution. I would suggest, with respect, that welfare is not the same as energy policy. As we have heard this morning, welfare policy is a lot more complicated than energy policy. I accept that the two Governments could look at what is already in operation, but they could not automatically transfer over the working arrangements to the likes of welfare policy.

I will also highlight the cost. Professor Spicker mentioned the cost of an IT system of £12.84 billion. The introduction of an IT system is never easy or cheap and there are invariably overruns. Given what has been suggested this morning and what is in the draft clauses, how confident are any of the witnesses that there would be no detriment to Scotland as a result of a new IT system being introduced and rolled out?

Vote DetailMSP VoteResult

S4M-12495 Joe FitzPatrick on behalf of the Parliamentary Bureau: Business Motion—That the Parliament
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YesCarried

S4M-12491.2 John Swinney: Privacy and the State—As an amendment to motion S4M-12491 in the name of W
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YesCarried

S4M-12491.1 Richard Simpson: Privacy and the State—As an amendment to motion S4M-12491 in the name o
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NoDefeated

S4M-12491 Willie Rennie: Privacy and the State—That the Parliament notes the Scottish Government’s c
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YesCarried

S4M-12492.2 Jamie Hepburn: Mental Health—As an amendment to motion S4M-12492 in the name of Jim Hume
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YesCarried

S4M-12492 Jim Hume: Mental Health—That the Parliament notes that one in four people will experience
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YesCarried

Amendment 2 moved by Ken Macintosh on motion S4M-12485 Margaret Burgess: Welfare Funds (Scotland) Bi
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NoDefeated

Amendment 3 moved by Ken Macintosh on motion S4M-12485 Margaret Burgess: Welfare Funds (Scotland) Bi
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NoDefeated

Amendment 4 moved by Ken Macintosh on motion S4M-12485 Margaret Burgess: Welfare Funds (Scotland) Bi
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NoDefeated

Amendment 5 moved by Ken Macintosh on motion S4M-12485 Margaret Burgess: Welfare Funds (Scotland) Bi
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NoDefeated

Search for other Motions lodged by Stuart McMillan
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Motion S4M-12529: Stuart McMillan, West Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 04/03/2015 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-12517: Stuart McMillan, West Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 03/03/2015 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-12511: Stuart McMillan, West Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 03/03/2015 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-12389: Stuart McMillan, West Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 23/02/2015 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-12354: Stuart McMillan, West Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 18/02/2015 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-12322: Stuart McMillan, West Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 16/02/2015 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-12203: Stuart McMillan, West Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 29/01/2015 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11977: Stuart McMillan, West Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 05/01/2015 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11726: Stuart McMillan, West Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 26/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11663: Stuart McMillan, West Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 24/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Search for other Questions asked by Stuart McMillan
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Question S4W-24744: Stuart McMillan, West Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 04/03/2015 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-04100: Stuart McMillan, West Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 02/03/2015 Show Full Question >>
Question S4F-02632: Stuart McMillan, West Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 02/03/2015 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-04063: Stuart McMillan, West Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 24/02/2015 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-24564: Stuart McMillan, West Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 23/02/2015 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03948: Stuart McMillan, West Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 20/01/2015 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03920: Stuart McMillan, West Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 13/01/2015 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03833: Stuart McMillan, West Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 10/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4F-02425: Stuart McMillan, West Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 24/11/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23261: Stuart McMillan, West Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 19/11/2014 Show Full Question >>