News In Focus
Ministers move to secure budget
Finance Secretary John Swinney will reintroduce the Scottish Government's Budget Bill at the Holyrood Parliament today, after the bill failed to win majority support among MSPs yesterday.
The vote was 64-64 with Presiding Officer Alex Fergusson casting his deciding vote in favour of the status quo, meaning the bill was not passed.
First Minister Alex Salmond said he would make one more attempt to get his bill passed before the end of March, but if this attempt failed, he would resign as First Minister and try to force an election.
The budget failed after Green Party MSPs Patrick Harvie and Robin Harper voted "no" because they failed to obtain assurances that the £33 million offered towards an insulation scheme for homes would come from new funds.
Finance Secretary John Swinney said: "In light of the vote and the serious position in which this leaves Scotland, the Scottish Government will not delay in seeking to resolve the budget issues for next year. That is why I will re-introduce the 2009-10 Budget Bill to Parliament at the earliest possible opportunity and certainly within a matter of days."
He added: "We all have an interest in considering this as soon as Parliament's processes will allow and the Government will introduce such a bill at the earliest opportunity."
New negotiations between the SNP and the Greens will take place today. The SNP will try to accelerate the Budget Bill, with the help of the corporate body which organises Parliament’s business.
If the bill still fails to win parliamentary backing and at the beginning of the financial year there is no Budget Act in place, then under the Public Finance and Accountability Scotland Act 2000 the government would be permitted one twelfth of the previous year’s budget for each calendar month. When a new budget is finally passed, any lost money from previous months would be put back into the budget.
If Alex Salmond were to resign as First Minister, the Parliament would have 28 days to choose another one before a further election could be required.