Letter: Taxing questions

While finance secretary John Swinney has apologised for not explaining to the Scottish Parliament his decision to allow tax-varying powers to lapse (your report, 25 November), this is in fact something of a red herring.

It was the previous Labour and Liberal Democrat government that allowed the powers to lapse, with Scottish government documents revealing that at the 2007 election it would have taken two further years to get the tax collecting system up to date.

Curiously, no statements were made by Labour or the Liberal Democrats in either Holyrood or Westminster to inform parties in advance of the election or to tell the Scottish Parliament that the system didn't work.

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Despite the SNP never having any intention of using the 3p tax the SNP government has engaged in three years of discussions with HM Revenue and Customs to remedy that problem.

Labour and the Liberal Democrats face similar accusations they have been flinging at the SNP, and it is for the respective shadow ministers of these parties to answer the same questions as put to John Swinney.

Alex Orr

Leamington Terrace


John Swinney decided that keeping the Inland Revenue database properly maintained with new software was not a priority for Scotland, so declined to pay the associated fees.

But surely it is in Scotland's interest to ensure that the information is accurate, as it is the basis for the block grant. And if not the Inland Revenue database, just what source of data had the Scottish government been planning to use for its now abandoned "local" income tax?

Jane Ann Liston

Largo Road

St Andrews, Fife