MSPs slam budget consultation

29 Jun 00
A Scottish Parliament committee has strongly criticised a consultation document on spending issued by finance minister Jack McConnell.

30 June 2000

In a report published this week, the Parliament's finance committee said the document, Investing in You, published last April, failed to produce enough clear information or robust figures.

The cross-party committee, chaired by Labour MSP Mike Watson, said it did not believe the document was capable of delivering on the hopes expressed by First Minister Donald Dewar in the foreword to the document. Dewar said he hoped it would be an interesting and useful contribution to the knowledge of public spending in Scotland.

The committee says that, on its own, the document did not enable an examination of the strategic goals of executive departments or assist in making judgments on whether spending was set at the right level.

Commenting on the report, Watson, the MSP for Glasgow Cathcart, said the committee believed the ability to participate fully in the debate on where public money is most appropriately spent depended on documentation that contained clear and robust figures.

He added: 'We do not believe Investing in You meets these core criteria and we, therefore, have significant concerns about the effectiveness of the consultation process this year.'

The committee has called for 'radical changes' to be made to the structure, style and content of the document.

Responding to the criticism, McConnell said he was committed to providing the best possible budget information. He said the report did not appear to criticise the figures published in the document, rather their layout and presentation.

'Indeed, the committee agrees that Investing in You is more accessible than previous departmental reports and relatively jargon free,' he added.

'The wide-ranging consultation we are carrying out is completely new for a budget process and all feedback on that is important. The committee agrees with my desire to involve the general public through that process and any changes to the document would have to bear that in mind.'


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