17 June 2014

S4M-10312 Budget Process (Standing Order Rule Changes)

The Deputy Presiding Officer (Elaine Smith): The next item of business is consideration of motion S4M-10312, in the name of Stewart Stevenson, on standing order rule changes: budget process. I call Stewart Stevenson to move the motion on behalf of the Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee.


Stewart Stevenson (Banffshire and Buchan Coast) (SNP): I rise to speak to the small but perfectly formed changes that Kenneth Gibson referred to in the previous debate, which are the addition of 14 words to the standing orders, five of which are instances of the word “revenue”.

The Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee has considered what changes are required to the standing orders as a result of the revised written agreement between the Finance Committee and the Scottish Government and the financial powers that were introduced by the Scotland Act 2012, which come into effect in April 2015.

Currently, the standing orders include only the high-level rules that govern the budget process—for example, the requirement to publish a draft budget by 20 September each year. As we heard in the previous debate, the specific details of the budget process are set out in the written agreement. We think that that is the right approach, and we recommend that it is continued. It has the advantage of flexibility, as the budget process can be adjusted in the written agreement without the need to amend the standing orders.

The changes that we are recommending to the standing orders are therefore relatively limited, as we are not proposing any significant changes to the broad structure of the budget process. As the report says, the changes would

“add references to public revenue alongside public expenditure at appropriate points”

in the standing orders

“to reflect the new requirement to consider the receipts from the devolved taxes.”

The Scottish rate of income tax will not come into force until 2016-17, so we are not including references to that tax in the standing orders at this time. There may be a requirement to make further amendments to the standing orders in around a year’s time in preparation for the Scottish rate of income tax coming into force.

I move,

That the Parliament notes the Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee’s 3rd Report 2014 (Session 4), Standing Order Rule Changes - Budget Process (SP Paper 512), and agrees that the changes to Standing Orders set out in Annexe A of the report be made with effect from 27 June 2014.


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