Scottish budget finally passed

By staff

All three major opposition parties have supported the Scottish budget after it was initially rejected a week ago.

Scotland’s Labour leader, Iain Gray, confirmed earlier his party would vote for the £33 billion SNP budget when it came before parliament today.

This means all three opposition parties; Labour, Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, supported the budget with only the Green’s resisting.

Last Wednesday the Liberal Democrats, Labour and the Greens came together to defeat the budget as they said it had not done enough to see Scotland through the economic crisis.

Labour came onboard after claiming the SNP had promised to introduce nearly 8,000 extra apprenticeships next year.

Mr Gray added they had also achieved an undertaking to explore the possibility of repeating the boost in 2010-2011.

Mr Swinney told MSPs: “We have demonstrated we have an overwhelming will to take the correct action to support public services and the Scottish economy.

“We have demonstrated that, in the face of major challenges over the future of public spending, we can agree on a way ahead.

“We have demonstrated that, when necessary, government and opposition can find common ground.”

Under the deal, SNP ministers will make a submission to the Calman Commission – which is reviewing devolution – on borrowing powers for the Scottish parliament.

Mr Swinney insisted it was not an embarrassing concession to co-operate with Calman – a forum the SNP has criticised because it ruled out discussing independence.

He explained: “What we are prepared to do to Calman, to the Treasury and to other bodies is to set out the unanswerable case, which I think has now become ever more obvious to people with issues such as the forth replacement crossing, that the Scottish parliament needs to have the full range of financial and borrowing powers which will allow us to manage our finances in a more effective and efficient way than we do.”

Mr Swinney said the issue of borrowing powers was a critical one and he hoped progress could be made by putting the case to the Calman Commission.