Murphy In 'Income Tax Powers' Call

25 November 2014, 06:15 | Updated: 25 November 2014, 06:40

Scottish Labour leadership candidate Jim Murphy will call on the party to agree to the full devolution of income tax in a speech today.

The former Secretary of State for Scotland will say that the full devolution of income tax means there will be "no hiding place for those who want to talk about radical politics but then fail to deliver them''.

Mr Murphy is facing MSPs Sarah Boyack and Neil Findlay in the race to become the new leader of Scottish Labour following Johann Lamont's resignation.

Ms Boyack has expressed reservations about the full devolution of income tax powers to Holyrood, while Mr Findlay has said care must be taken to make sure Scotland does not end up worse off as a consequence of any changes.

Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown has warned that full income tax is a ''Tory trap''.

In a speech in Glasgow today Mr Murphy is expected to say: "The difference between Scottish Labour and our opponents when it comes to constitutional reform is that we have never seen it as an end in itself but as a means to an end.

"We want the best constitutional settlement for Scotland because we want the best deal for Scotland.

"Our interest is in making devolution work, not simply in taking with one hand and demanding more with the other, regardless of the consequences.''

He will add: "I believe that the framework we will be working within will offer huge new opportunities for Scotland.

"But that will only happen if it is in the hands of people and parties whose vested interest is in the success of these new powers and not in their failure.

"We have had too much of that approach - always demanding new powers while failing to use the ones that exist, in order to meet Scotland's urgent needs.

"Even before the Smith Commission reports, we should agree to the full devolution of income tax to Scotland, if that is what emerges.''

Mr Murphy will say that Scottish Labour will not only meet its promise on more powers for Scotland, but exceed it.

He will describe it as a "clear signal'' to Scotland that the party has changed, and will stand up for Scotland.

He will say: "This is also a big moment in the history of our Parliament.

"It will create the clear connection between the raising of taxes and the spending of revenues which is missing at present.

"This will result in there being no hiding place for those who want to talk about radical politics but then fail to deliver them.

"It will go a long way towards eliminating the blame game which has been a feature of Scottish politics for so long.

"There will be nobody else to blame. If a Scottish Government wants to spend more, it will have to raise more. It will have nobody to blame but itself.''

Mr Findlay said: "Devolving all of income tax is an idea that has been widely canvassed round the Labour movement for a number of years - It was suggested in the Red Paper Collective book to which I contributed for example.

"The test of any devolved powers is whether politicians are willing to use them to address and prioritise the deep seated problems facing Scotland.

"I will use existing and new powers, whatever they turn out to be, to tackle poverty, youth unemployment, the social care crisis and to build desperately needed social housing to tackle the housing crisis.''

SNP MSP Stewart Maxwell said: "Voices across civic Scotland have already backed the devolution of extensive powers over tax and welfare, and people in Scotland rightly expect to see a broad range of taxation powers transferred beyond income tax.

"If Labour have now caught up on this one aspect, having offered even less than the Tories, I hope that they will back the calls by many independent organisations in Scotland for other tax and welfare powers to be devolved, such as the minimum wage.''