Commenting on the launch of the Lib Dems’ manifesto, Finance Secretary John Swinney said that the Treasury’s Statement of Funding Policy for the devolved administrations meant that any such proceeds could be clawed back by the Treasury.
In relation to capital receipts, the Treasury document says: “In such circumstances Treasury Ministers reserve the right to reduce the grant to the devolved administration to reflect receipts.”
In relation to Scottish Water the whole value of such potential receipts is, according SNP estimates, £2.75bn (£1.2bn raised post-devolution and £1.5bn pre-devolution). The post-devolution figure is £1.2bn – not the Lib Dems’ £1.5bn – and there is every likelihood that even this smaller sum would be clawed back by the Treasury in reduced grant.
Mr Swinney said:
“The Lib Dem campaign was already in disarray, and now their manifesto has sunk on the day of its launch, because they are in absolutely no position to assume that any such receipts – which would also involve transferring Scottish Water to the private sector – would not simply be clawed back by the Tory Treasury.
“As the UK Government spell out, in such circumstances Treasury Ministers reserve the right to reduce the grant to the devolved administration to reflect receipts – leaving Scotland no better off, in return for going down the road of privatizing Scottish Water.”
Elsewhere on the campaign trail, SNP Depute Leader Nicola Sturgeon welcomed Lothian and Borders Chief Constable David Strang’s support for minimum pricing of alcohol in the Times newspaper, and reaffirmed that the SNP will bring forward minimum pricing proposals if re-elected to Government.
Ms Sturgeon said:
“I’m delighted that Chief Constable David Strang backs minimum pricing. His officers, and police officers across Scotland, know only too well the havoc and violence that alcohol abuse causes our society.
“The SNP Government’s efforts to introduce minimum pricing for alcohol as part of a wider range of measures in the Alcohol Bill were voted down by the unholy alliance of Labour, the Tories and Lib Dems, and if re-elected the SNP will reintroduce it and campaign vigorously to persuade the chamber that it is high time we implemented minimum pricing to help tackle alcohol misuse in Scotland.”
Ms Sturgeon visited The Princess Royal Trust for Carers’ Glasgow South East Carers Centre, where she will meet carers of all ages including some of Scotland’s young carers, Ms Sturgeon will set out the SNP’s vision for Scotland’s carers.
“Over the next five years we will work to ensure carers are treated properly as partners in our health and social care systems. The views and voices of Scotland’s carers must be properly heard and their needs properly supported.” Ms Sturgeon said.
“A re-elected SNP Government will ensure our education system supports young carers and that those on Education Maintenance Allowances do not find themselves penalised for fulfilling their caring responsibilities.”
Meanwhile, Scottish National Party leader Alex Salmond published a new leaflet calling on the UK Government to “rethink” the threat to offshore jobs and investment posed by the Chancellor’s Budget tax hike.
One hundred thousand copies of the new leaflet will be distributed in Aberdeen and across the North East of Scotland.
The SNP leader said that an SNP victory in the Scottish Parliament election will force the Tory/Lib Dem coalition to reconsider their damaging proposals.
Mr Salmond said:
“The UK Government’s disgraceful and unthinking treatment of one of Scotland’s great industries has emerged as a vital issue – and an SNP election victory on 5 May will force the Tory/Lib Dem UK coalition to reconsider their damaging proposals, which threaten offshore jobs and investment.
“The tax changes dreamed up by the Lib Dems’ Danny Alexander are totally ill-thought through and run the clear risk of diverting investment away from the North Sea. There is nothing wrong with making taxation responsive to profitability and high oil prices, however it has to be done in a planned fashion with appropriate incentives for marginal fields and infrastructure development.
“This entire episode underlines the need for the Scottish Parliament to gain responsibility for North Sea revenues, for the long-term benefit of the Scottish economy, our public services and society.”