Scottish budgeting held up by Westminster

14 Dec 00
The Scottish Executive has pledged to improve its budget process following a report by an influential committee of MSPs voicing 'serious concern' over the arrangements for the scrutiny of spending plans.

15 December 2000

In a report this week the Scottish Parliament finance committee complained about the unavailability of the detailed figures for the Scottish budget this year. This meant the Parliament would not be able to carry out a proper scrutiny of the spending proposals, it said.

The committee of MSPs pointed out that UK Spending Reviews occur every two years and were likely to fall between stages one and two of the Parliament's budget process.

'We are therefore concerned that our budget process timetable this year was thrown off course to a significant degree by the [UK] Comprehensive Spending Review and additional spending statements,' the MSPs say. 'Clearly, the timing of UK expenditure announcements could be a recurring impediment to a meaningful budget process.'

The committee called on the Executive to address the issue as a matter of urgency and to report back on how the arrangements can be modified.

Committee convener Mike Watson said that, while the members welcomed the additional funding that had come from the chancellor's CSR announcement in July, it was concerned that a detailed breakdown of this money had still to be published.

The unavailability of the information meant that some subject committees could not examine whether proposed expenditure was adequate to fund policy commitments, Watson said.

A spokesman for the Scottish Executive said it would consider the committee's recommendations and look at how the budget process could be improved.


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