MSPs To Question Ministers Over Funding

23 February 2016, 07:16

Senior figures from the Scottish and UK governments will be questioned by MSPs over their failure so far to strike a deal over Holyrood's future funding arrangements.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney and Scottish Secretary David Mundell are both to give evidence to members of the Scottish Parliament's Devolution Committee.

The two men will give evidence in separate sessions, with Mr Swinney appearing before MSPs in the morning while the Conservative MP will face questions from the committee on Tuesday evening.

It comes after weeks of negotiations between the two administrations over the fiscal framework - the financial arrangements that will underpin the new Scotland Bill.

Despite the protracted discussions, no deal has yet been agreed.

Devolution Committee convener Bruce Crawford has already said "whatever the circumstances we find ourselves in, we expect both governments to give us a full explanation of their position on a fiscal framework'' at the meeting.

The two governments have to agree how the block grant Scotland receives from Westminster should be adjusted to take into account new tax-raising powers being devolved to Holyrood.

Any deal must meet the principles of taxpayer fairness and ''no detriment'' - the idea that neither government should gain or lose financially simply as a result of the decision to devolve.

The Scottish Government has already threatened it will block the new powers by recommending MSPs veto the legislation if the two governments cannot strike a deal.

It believes a method known as per capita indexed deduction, which would take into account the fact that Scotland's population is growing more slowly than the rest of the UK, is the best way of meeting the no detriment principle.

It claims a bad deal, which fails to take population into account, could cost Scotland billions of pounds in the long-term.

The UK Government says a deal must be fair to all taxpayers and ''no detriment'' does not mean ''no risk''.