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Scottish independence: Salmond would back tax cuts

Alex Salmond says the pull of London needs to be addressed. Picture: Reuters

Alex Salmond says the pull of London needs to be addressed. Picture: Reuters

  • by ANDREW WHITAKER
 

ALEX Salmond backed tax cuts for big business in an independent Scotland, but failed to guarantee a living wage for all ­workers, as he addressed the Scottish Trades Union Congress yesterday.

The First Minister told STUC delegates that the SNP’s plan to cut corporation tax was needed to “address the pull of the ­London economy” and attract firms to an independent Scotland.­

However, he failed to guarantee the introduction of a ­compulsory “living wage” for all workers, which is currently ­voluntary and stands at £7.65 in the UK as a whole but £8.80 in London.

The minimum wage of £6.31 is compulsory under UK law.

Mr Salmond would only say that a Yes vote would mean Scotland could vote for ­parties backing the living wage as he said that was “the beauty of ­independence”.

The SNP leader also said the Scottish Government was ­currently unable to use its existing powers to insist that all firms benefiting from public-sector contracts should pay the living wage, as he claimed the move could be “struck down” by the European Union.

The First Minister said he had a “substantial record” in delivering improvements to ­workers’ rights.

He told delegates at the STUC’s ­annual conference in Dundee that all those employed directly by the ­government were now paid the living wage.

However, Scottish ministers have repeatedly resisted calls from unions and opposition MSPs to make the living wage compulsory for all firms involved in public-sector procurement, where some workers carry out work for the government but are employed in the private sector.

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