Scotland stands to lose £800m in 'Labour spending squeeze' - Alex Salmond

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SCOTLAND will lose more than £800 million from its budget as a result of "Labour's spending squeeze", First Minister Alex Salmond claimed today.

• Alex Salmond makes a point during First Ministers Questions at the Scottish Parliament today

Mr Salmond claimed that yesterday's Pre Budget Report by Chancellor Alistair Darling meant Scotland was now facing a reduction of 814.4 million in its budget.

He said the figure was contained in a Scottish Parliament briefing paper, which set out the changes to the Scottish budget since the draft budget for 2009-10.

The First Minister said: "The figure is now a reduction of 814.4 million. That is the exact figure that is caused by Labour's spending squeeze in Scotland as a result of the Labour recession in Westminster."

Mr Salmond gave the figure after being quizzed by Tory leader Annabel Goldie at First Minister's Questions in the Scottish Parliament.

She said the plans Mr Darling had put forward in his Pre Budget Report had revealed "the nightmare of Labour's economic incompetence, the true extent of Labour's debt crisis".

And she asked: "How big will Labour's cut be in our Scottish budget, how deep will Labour's cut be in our Scottish public services?"

The Conservative also called for Labour Treasury ministers to come to Holyrood to explain to MSPs "the devolved consequences of the Pre Budget Report".

But Mr Salmond said: "I believe that the entire Labour Party should be summoned before the Scottish people in a general election."

Miss Goldie went on to challenge the First Minister to "confront reality" and set out precisely what cuts will need to be made.

She said: "My party has already identified hundreds of millions of pounds of savings that could be made and the First Minister has disagreed with every one of our proposals.

"Well I say to the First Minister, listen up, Labour has brought us to the brink of bankruptcy, doing nothing is not an option. Living in denial is not an option and saying all will be well in an independent Scotland is not an option – just look at Ireland."

She told Mr Salmond: "Face reality, come clean with the Scottish people and tell us where the cuts will be made and where the savings will come from."

Mr Salmond told her that the Scottish budget already put forward by Finance Secretary John Swinney for 2010-11 "makes tough choices".

And he said: "I do hope that given Annabel Goldie's realisation of the extent of the Westminster spending squeeze, then she'll get behind that Scottish budget and pass it in the best interests of the Scottish economy and the Scottish people."


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