15/04/2012 Sunday Politics Scotland


Andrew Neil and Isabel Fraser with the latest political news, interviews and debate.

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Good afternoon. This is the Sunday politics. The Budget that keeps on


giving but not in a good way. After granny tax, the charity tax engulfs


the Government. How much damage is being done to the Tories' chances


in next month's local elections? Grant Shapps joins us for the


Sunday interview. We go to Sweden where when it comes


to tax, the let it all hang out. Should we follow suit and make tax


returns public? The argument for a full financial disclosure gathers


pace. And on Sunday Politics Scotland,


the finance secretary says charities are going to be hit hard


over tax relief on donations. And are bus companies taking us for a


ride? Profitable companies, government


Apology for the loss of subtitles for 1503 seconds


subsidies - set against cuts in If you think everybody's tax


returns should be public, should it also be public how much everyone


receives and benefits? I think it probably should be. There is a


significant argument for that as well. That would be more difficult


to enforce. You would have to get round a large number of different


agencies in order to get them published. It is very un-English.


We are very private about her money in this country. You mean it is not


an Scottish a run Welsh? I think it is something we regard as being a


very private matter and a culture is completely antithetical. This


leads a fairly private as well but, despite all their suggestions of


public nudity there. I think that they are not as envious as we


imagine we are. Our real problem is not about privacy but of those


who'd do it well being worried about becoming the envious targets


of our neighbours. There was a time not that long ago, less than 15


years ago, when a lot of politicians said where we get the


money from as a political party should be up private matter. No one


believes in that argument now and are you not fighting the tide here,


that in the future we should see their tax returns of a


politician's? It may well be that the argument I am making it is


going to lose because the MoD is demanding more and more. This is


mob rule, demanding to know every detail about the leaders. We have


got a dearth of talent in British politics in terms of their


experience of life. I would like to see better people and politics and


the less intrusion we have... say it is part of being a citizen


of this country. If I maintain that I am resident and domiciled in


Britain and some as a tax return every year, why is that not enough?


Let's take the case that this has emerged from. Ken Livingstone had a


blast it people who he says are not paying as much tax as they should.


It is then discovered that he himself is doing it. People's


reaction to this is not daft about hypocrisy but about whether or not


you pay your dues and a way that I understand you are fulfilling your


duties as a citizen. It is applicable to everybody. 58% of


people in a recent poll said that tax returns should be made public.


Is it true these rumours we're reading that some Conservative MPs


are in discussion with UKIP? Over the last year the chief whip of the


House of Lords has joined UKIP and if the party continues to grow and


looks to be becoming a good bet, more will join. Are you having


discussions? In politics, you have discussions with people all the


time. I think that's I yes. Can you give us the names of the Tory MPs?


Not yet. It is approaching 12:30pm. Good afternoon and welcome to


Sunday Politics Scotland. Coming up on the programme. We are on the


buses as a funding row cuts services, increases fares and puts


concessionary travel in the spotlight. Unless Westminster does


a handbrake turn on capping charity donations how will Scottish


projects be affected? Is there a shift in the SNP stance - no to


Nuclear but is it still a no to NATO? On the super-sensitive


territory of same sex marriage, we are just weeks away from a Scottish


Our bus services seem to be heading down a difficult road - cuts in


routes, hikes in fares and threats of job losses. The bus companies


insist subsidy cuts are driving them into a corner but the


government isn't buying that. So if you're getting on board, what can


you expect as a passenger? Kevin Keane reports.


Travelling by bus in Scotland has never been more expensive. Here in


Aberdeen, both the major bus companies have recently seen the


affairs arise. The biggest operator saw them increase in January by up


to 13 1/2 per cent. The other big operators here, Stagecoach,


increase fares by a 7.7 per cent. Fares are rising across Scotland.


Stagecoach shares in Aberdeen have increased by nearly 10%. If you're


travelling in Glasgow, and you will have seen Europe price rise by 27%.


Operators say they are being hit hard. Private companies need profit


and if overheads rise, fares rise. People are being hit by a Perfect


Storm at the moment. There seemed a drop in passenger numbers and a


rise in fuel prices and the companies are responding to that by


trying to keep their profitability levels by increasing fares and


often cutting routes. One of the biggest hits has been in the amount


they are paid to operate services. The government's total subsidy to


bus companies last year was more than a quarter of a billion pounds.


A large chunk of that was through concessionary travel. 66.5 million


came through the bus service operators grand, and that has been


cut by 17%. -- grant. It is ultimately the passengers who pay


and their feeling the effects and Aberdeen. It is expensive for me


every day. It used to be �45 for me and now it is �50. I AM a pensioner


and we don't pay. I think it is terrible for families. Cracking the


public transport map has proven difficult for success of Gullit.


Two of the biggest operators each make profits of �250 million for a


bus services. A cut in government subsidy is unlikely to put them in


the red. There is then a more radical approach. Whatever party is


the principal opposition calls for regulation. The party and


government says they want. That will not change until passengers a


more powerful and speaking with a stronger voice. Motorists are well


represented in the political system and bus passengers are largely


ignored. With me in the studio are three


MSPs - we have Alex Neil the Minister for Capital Investment &


Infrastructure, Leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats Willie


Rennie, and for Labour, their transport spokesman, Richard Baker.


Thank you all for coming in. Alex Neil, if we start with the it cut


in subsidy to bus operators, why are you doing that? Over the last


two years, we have seen a 43% increase in fuel costs and we are


reforming the whole system to encourage bus operators to be more


fuel-efficient. We're trying to make the system fairer. Many rural


communities were not getting a fair chunk of the subsidy before so we


have rearranged and reformed the subsidy and such a way that it


tells rural communities. If you look at the total picture including


concessionary fares, we have tried to make it fairer by extending


concessionary fares to disabled veterans and their dial-up bus


service. The bus operators are arguing that you are now basing


your subsidy not on fuel costs but a mileage at which is a


disadvantage to them, and they are getting 20% less. Given that you


have said you have done all of this to improve the service, can you


really justify these cuts? They're not getting 20% less because


looking at the totality of what we are spending, we announced a �6


million Green Bus Fund. We have announced a transition from the


subsidy that wars and the subsidy as reformed. Why are they are


laying off people and say they cannot maintain the services?


is only one group that has a significant redundancy level and


that is the First Bus Group. For a start, First has made it clear to


me that there cut in the bus services grant was a key issue.


This cut in grant has resulted in these fare increases. This decision


for a while lies with Alex Neil. He has made a decision which is


directly meant affairs going up for those who can afford these


increases least. People who use buses do not have cars and July and


the services to get to work, often on lower incomes. Looking at the


First group operating profits for the year ending March this year,


pre-tax profits of �456 million. Those a sizable profits butter lot


of that will be from the ScotRail franchise. Buses tend to work on


tighter margins. I would like to see greater regulation of the bus


industries. Alex Neil opposed is greater accountability between bus


companies and the passengers they serve. Passengers have a reasonable


point because services cannot be run on the same level at the same


fares if they are facing a 20 per as it cut in the fuel rebate they


get from the government, which has been a long-standing subsidy for


the industry from the government. That is what is really hurting


passengers hard. This is that -- is a decision made by AlexThe SNP.


they have misjudged the situation. They were advised by the bus


companies that there would be fare rises and service cuts. Three


months ago, they decided to charge ahead regardless of that warning


forced up they have missed that that situation badly. We need a


solution to this problem. It is chaos out there and services have


been slashed. Bus users are furious about this. Where will the funding


come from? Extra money has been received by the coalition


government in Westminster, about �9 million this year and �7 million


next year. That would goal long way to deal with the problems Alex Neil


has created. If we're going to meet Climate Change targets and reverse


the decline in bus usage, this money has to go back in. Would you


be looking at changing concessionary fare rules?


recommended that at a last election because finances are tight and


there are a lot of working people in the Sixties were getting free


bus travel have to work. We reckon we should look at the 60-65 year


olds and see whether they should continue to get that. You would


maintain it for veterans and disabled people? Those changes


introduced a good steps. His policy is to rob the pensioners of the


concessionary fare. We will not do that. We will look after pensioners


and make sure that the concessionary fare goes to those in


need, rather than unnecessarily subsidise companies also up if I


may say so, none of them have said what they would cut to pay for the


increased subsidy to the bus operators. I have, Alex. Any time


you mention consequential, they talk about more money for colleges,


schools, universities, but they never tell us how they will do that.


Can I just allow you to come back on that but establish that what


you're saying is that the bus companies can afford to absorb


this? They're not have there been a great deal. But they can afford it?


75% of the bus companies will actually be better offer have


exactly the same subsidies as before. Other bus companies


profiteering? I am not saying profiteering but if you take the


three big bus companies of Scotland, they're taking profits of between


350 in �400 million a year. We are quite keen to make sure that we use


our money to send advise them to do two things. To incentive buys them


to use their fuel more efficiently because feel is going up. Willie


Rennie's government is pitting feel up again on that 1st August. --


oputting fuek up. Looking at the total picture, in the old system,


the encouragement was to have a feel any fish and buses. We are


making it fair for or rural areas. You're saying no price hikes are no


job cuts? To get this in perspective, last year, bus fares


and Scotland rose by 2.1 per cent compared to 4.8 per cent south of


the border. They have slashed the subsidy says the border far more


than any company will suffer in terms of the Cup in Scotland.


south, the consultation with the bus companies was extensive, over


18 months. We do not have the chaos you have created a peer. Services


have been slashed and fares have risen. What sort of regulation


would have a practical impact on that? Presumably, so much and this


will be determined by what the bus companies decide is a profitable


margin. We want to see quality partnerships and Quality Contracts,


which have started up but there is far too few of them as Scotland was


up that would provide greater accountability in Scotland. In


terms of that the credibility, that will be important, but sticking to


the issue affairs, which is what we're talking about today, at the


end of the day it comes down to funding. People who are paying


through the nose today will not be impressed by this charade of the


shoulder of response from Alex Neil. It is his decision to cut that


important fuel rebate which has resulted in the pay increases. At


Apology for the loss of subtitles for 1503 seconds


this moment in time, that is the Can I just ask a question to


clarify...? If you are coming into this argument and we have known the


numbers for some time, with the argument had been more plausible


and coherent if he could specifically identify where you


would say that money. If there is chaos out there and people are


genuinely concerned, why be not have a detailed idea where you


would say that money? He is right to identify the fact their


consequential. You would not recommend looking at concessionary


fares? We went into the election pledging to retain this. We have


actually extended the concessionary... Willie Rennie, is


it right to extend this at a time when other communities could be


affected by this, as we have heard from people on the buses? It was


right to extend it but Alex Neil should have manage the situation


better. Richard Baker can tell us how we would fund these additional


subsidies for bus companies. there anywhere told... We are


almost out of time and we're covered all this ground. Will you


look at this again? Is there any way you will sit back and say we


did not expect... There are constant discussions with the bus


operators and we have agreed a way forward including bus partnerships


and on the Budget. The reality is we have agreement because they know


what we're doing is sensible and we can pay for it. There being totally


dishonest and their policy is to rob the pensioner to pay their


company more profits. We're out of time.


Pressure is mounting on the Westminster government to change


its controversial plan to cap charity donations. The chancellor


said he was astonished to find unlimited donations could be used


for tax dodging. So as George Osbourne insults genuine


philanthropists and alarms the rest of us with his seeming lack of


prior knowledge about tax avoidance scams - the finance secretary John


Swinney is among those today telling him to rethink.


The Chancellor's well-understood attempts to clamp down on tax


avoidance have actually had the perverse effect of creating a


disincentive around people donating to charity. Charitable giving is up


very important part of strengthening long-term investment


in good causes in Scotland. Joining us now from Edinburgh is Dr


Alison Elliot - the convenor of the Scottish Council for Voluntary


Organisations. Thank you for coming What you think could be the effect


in Scotland in particular? Do we have a lot of large donors and


Scotland? Not as many as down south but there are some considerable


once here. Not only in terms of large donations that we hear about,


but also the various charitable trusts which make a wide range of


charitable nations to Scotland including small donations to small


charities. Some are putting money into core funding which is


particularly important in terms of sustaining services, as opposed the


project funding. Charitable trusts are likely, more likely to give


money to keep charities moving and keep them going. I think that it is


very important for the charities of Scotland that these high net worth


individuals are taken seriously. Why do you think the government


came up with this? I do not know. I cannot believe that we spend a lot


of time thinking about it. I think they are concerned to come down on


tax avoidance, which no one would deny it is an important thing to do,


then there are other ways of doing it. I think it is a lazy policy and


just the way of trying to catch a whole lot of people in the next and


it should be designed more work precisely for a few individuals.


What sort of image does it get out or create in the public mind?


think it is very detrimental. We can speculate about how much money


Mater may not be lost through this scheme. What we do not is the


message step has been given it is the idea that giving to charity is


avoiding tax. I know from trying to persuade people that it is often


quite difficult to persuade them that gift Aid as an OK thing to do.


The already see that as cheating tax. If the Government essaying


that giving to charity is part of avoiding paying taxes, then it is


going to have a knock-on effect on people who are giving modest


donations regularly to small charities. Tax relief would almost


suggest that the state recognises the role of voluntary sector and


charities and providing essential services. There seems to be a a


problem and thinking there? I have always been fascinated with the


principles that underline Get paid. What the government is saying that


giving money to charity is not the same are spending it elsewhere. In


some way, it is helping the state do its job. That is thinking that


is becoming mainline that in policy thinking in terms of the Scottish


government and also down south. I was on the Christie Commission


which were looking at the a former public services. One of the things


that was fundamental there was understanding that we have to


reduce the demand on public services. Public services cannot


cope with the current level of demand. One of the ways you reduce


demand is by keeping people out of hospital and out of prison and


keeping communities strong and vibrant and interesting places to


be. The sector generally acknowledged as doing that very


well is the voluntary sector. This is an essential part of Scotland


being able to provide the public services which a dignified and


deserving of this country. A thank you for that.


The BBC has learned that the SNP leadership is considering proposing


a change to the party's policy on NATO at the next meeting of their


National Council in June. But with many in the SNP still wedded to the


goal of a nuclear-free Scotland outside the alliance, do they have


a fight on their hands? Niall O'Gallagher reports.


Withdrawal from NATO has been the SNP position for more than 30 years.


Sources have told us that the party leadership is considering a change


in policy with a move due in a matter of weeks. The next meeting


of the party's national council in June is expected to discuss whether


Scotland could stay in NATO while keeping the SNP commitment to get


rid of nuclear weapons. Recent academic research has suggested


such a proposal could get a welcome from the party membership. The


strength of feeling on this is not great. Very few of the SNP's


members see this as a matter of greater urgency a great importance.


For some in the party, opposition to NATO membership is a defining


issue. In a motion to mark the anniversary of the alliance,


nationalist MP Jamie Hepburn said that NATO was to destabilise the


scene -- destabilising factor in the West's relationship with Europe


-- Russia and it serves no useful purpose in the modern world.


Of those that supported the motion, two are ministers in the current


Scottish government. The SNP is changing. An increase in members


since the last election victory suggests the balance is shifting.


The SNP promised Stirling Council that... Anti-nuclear campaigners


have called on those proposing the change to step back from the brink


and continuing the current policy They have built up an honourable


position against nuclear weapons. That is because they are weapons of


indiscriminate mass annihilation. If they go and change their policy


which is a relic of the Cold War, the central plank is nuclear policy,


they seriously undermine their position. Abandoning plans to leave


NATO could make it easier for the SNP to persuade those concerned


about defence to vote for independence. Scotland have voted


Aith MP and devoted in big numbers. It did so it because it wanted to


be left of centre. -- SMP. It was not interested in the London wars.


There has been an enormous amount of goodwill from people on the left


of the SNP. We are now seeing what is happening here. Tomorrow, the UK


will conduct an exercise with NATO allies on the Clyde. With a


Scottish forces will continue to take part is an issue. The result


of that debate could be an important factor in deciding


whether Scots vote to pursue a foreign defence policy in the years


to come. With me, the former SNP special


adviser. Thank you for coming in. If we except that the idea they are


considering putting to the membership of the SNP should stay


in NATO and get rid of nuclear weapons, would staying in NATO be


something acceptable to the majority of SNP members?


referred to to the surprise of some people that there was a concern you


needed to say certain things and keep the membership happy. Were the


membership is more pragmatic than sometimes people in the leadership


think. The membership is not pragmatic about nuclear weapons,


though. There is no doubt in my mind, the SNP, even though this is


the discussion, there is no doubt in my mind if this compromised the


SNP's Anglia -- anti-nuclear stand, it would not be countenanced. As


well as them being hostile to nuclear weapons, it wants to be


international. They wants to join things. If they can join


international community's, if they can engage in international


corporation without doing anything to overturn the SMP's anti-nuclear


stance, they will consider that. There will be an argument it was


the fact they were unequivocal on nuclear, they said no to nuclear


weapons on Scottish soil and said no to supporting native. That to go


votes from the left. They could lose a those votes. The anti-


nuclear stance is part of their DNA. If there was any suggestion from


the newest member to Alex Salmond, there is no clear position on that.


What you're saying is the research suggests for most members, the


distinction is not NATO, it is about nuclear. We do not have a


huge amount of time. I am sorry. We are talking about why the


leadership would be interested in doing that. May they see themselves


as vulnerable on defence? If they say, we will stay in NATO, that


would be attractive to a wide audience. I think the point about


defence is, you say do the if MP feel vulnerable. That is a pretty


ropey attack. -- best MP. They cannot have an independent defence


policy. The main fizzing is, in terms of their stance, they want to


operate, they are keen on EU membership. -- will operate. They


are going to investigate that. People are talking about the left.


Norway is the country that is held up as part of the social democratic


aspiration the Scotland should be looking at. They are in NATO. There


is nothing to say because you worry left-wing government, you cannot be


in NATO. That will form part of the discussions going on at the moment.


If you inherit treaty obligations post independence, could use not


saying they do? -- could you not stay. In NATO. Everyone is


concerned about the and D nuclear stance. Thank you. A group of


Catholic laymen are the latest to join the debate about legislating


for same-sex marriage in church. They gave the Deputy First Minister


a petition opposing the proposal. More than 50,000 responses to the


Scottish government's consultation huh being considered.


Yesterday, these representatives were the latest to get involved in


this debate. They handed over a petition of around 1,000 signatures


to their local MSP who also speaks for the Cabinet on this issue. They


say they gather the signatures from five Catholic churches. We do not


see any reason for a change in the law. Marriage, the sanctity of


marriage, it is one of the fantasies of the Catholic Church.


The Catholic Church and the Muslim church -- Muslim community are key


voices. If they oppose the redefinition of marriage. Some say


yes to the proposal. At the moment, say that sex couples have the same


legal rights. The new law would allow them to get married in a


judge or a religious premises. Initially, ministers wanted to


support the changes. There consultation lasted 14 weeks and


the received over 50,000 responses. It is the third largest response


they have ever had to a consultation. No decisions have


been taking, decisions will be taken in due course. As the


Government has always made clear, if the decision is to legislate for


same-sex marriage, there will be protections to ensure no religious


group is compelled to take same-sex marriages. At Westminster, the


Government wants to introduced gay marriage by a 2015. The change in


the law would allow civil partnerships to be recognised as


marriage. The Scottish government is expected to publish the results


and make a decision on whether to take forward legislation in the


coming weeks. We are joined by someone from the Catholic Church.


We also as someone from the Church of Scotland. Thank you for coming.


If this legislation goes through, how will that affect the sort of


relationships you want your church to have with the Scottish


government? I think it would be a damaging move. A effects not just


Catholic and church services, it would affect society. It would


impact in education and jobs. At this stage, we want to raise it as


a political issue. It is because politicians really are eroding the


people's basic freedoms and undermining the basic understanding


of family life. When you hear that, as a Christian, who has opposing


views to that, how do you think this can be resolved? Is there any


way this can make people satisfied? What is there to resolve? Gay


couples want to marry. No problem. There are clergy who would love to


be able to do those marriages and we need a change in the civil law


to make it OK for gay couples to marry, whereas in the UK, they can


enter into civil partnerships. What is important to understand is no


minister of any stripe is going to be forced to conduct same-sex


marriages, just like no minister of any stripe currently is forced to


conduct any marriage. Let us address that. Let us talk about


laws and human rights. There is no compulsion on you to conduct this.


Equally, there are practising Christians who are gay who would


like to marry in church. You are denying them that right. There is


no compulsion on you to do something but you are denying


someone else something. It is a misunderstanding entirely. People


are free to live their lives they want. If they want to have services,


you can do what you want in your church. What you want to do is


change the understanding of marriage for society. That has a


huge impact. We recognise the role of a mother and father in the role


of a child is crucial. This would change the law so you are not


allowed to say a mother and father is the basis of family life. That


is a huge change. A is an imposition on the rest of society.


You're asking society to change logic. It is not about equality.


This is about things that are different. Is it acceptable to say,


there is a body of Catholic Church teaching of his marriage as to be


about a man and woman but other churches have other opinions? Wiser


not to legislate in that regard and allow this? -- why is it not.


clear, I am a Presbyterian minister from America who works in this --


who works in the Church of Scotland. What the Scottish legislation


proposes is the freedom for same- sex couples to marry, which brings


with it many legal responsibilities and commitments. They do have, the


rights same sex couples have, in the terms of civil partnerships,


they are the same. To give you an example, friends of mine, who, in


America, had a civil partnership, they were married in a church, they


did not expect it to make a big difference. And they were


overwhelmed with the difference it made him their relationship which


was a 20 year relationship at a point. To finally have a marriage


within a church conducted by a minister made a huge difference to


them. I am here to voice support for them. We do not have a huge


amount of time. Can I just ask you in terms of how the Catholic Church


has handled the interaction with the government, and we have had


people saying, if this is allowed, it would be a grotesque subversion


of Human Rights. Do you have concerns the tone has been such


that you have backed the Government into a corner and they cannot


afford to say they have been browbeaten by the Catholic Church?


The tone has been strong. It is a robust debate. The language used by


those who label people like I might myself a -- like myself as begets,


human rights legislation recognise that marriage is a relationship


between men and women. There is an importance to children. That is a


unique relationship. Other relationships do not fulfil a role.


They are not of the same interest to society. But human rights


societies say it is about compromise to give concessions. Do


you regret the tone that have emerged here? Do you think the tone


has been damaging? What you make of the tone? I think people using


their common sense can see through rhetoric. We already disagree about


marriage. Some people consider it the sacrament. Some do not. Some


principalities and America are, they on her common-law marriages


and some do not. -- they on her. There is... We have heard the


expression marriages of convenience. Those are accepted with


heterosexual couples who and traditionally, marriages were about


property and then about raising children. Now it is reversed.


People get married for romantic reasons with, or without, children.


And they end up in divorce. We do not have a uniform understanding of


marriage, anyway. We are out of time. If the legislation does go


ahead, what will the response be from the Catholic Church?


principle is did today people. The more people look at this issue,


they see the repercussions. They see this is a tyranny of a quality.


You're forced to accept the morality of other people. --


quality. This will be a huge change Scotland's finance secretary is


warning that controversial plans to cap tax relief for charitable


donations will damage the voluntary sector. The Chancellor George


Osborne is coming under mounting pressure to rethink his decision.


John Swinney has written to him to outline his concerns. This can


create a perception that charitable giving is not well, that would be


disastrous. There are hundreds of thousands of people across the


country he give to charities and we should not put any obstacles are


barriers in their way, or create an atmosphere which suggests that


charitable giving is not. number of people on the NHS Organ


Donor Register in Scotland has reached a record high of more than


two million. Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon has welcomed the


rise in potential donors, but says more must be done. Across the UK,


three people still die every day because they don't get the organ


they need in time. Around 5,000 runners from 30


different countries have taken part in the first Rock n Roll half


marathon to be held in the UK. Edinburgh is hosting today's event


which aims to create a festival atmosphere in the city. More than


20 bands played to the runners along the 13 mile route, which


started and finished in Holyrood Park.


The second Scottish Cup semi-final between Celtic and Hearts kicked


off at Hampden Stadium a short time Showers across the north and north-


east. They will be wintery of a higher ground. Generally dry and


bright with highs of 10 Celsius. A little cooler in the north-east.


This evening and overnight, showers die away and will be cold and


frosty. That is the forecast for Our next bulletin is at 6:50pm.


Now in a moment, we'll be discussing the big events coming up


this week at Holyrood, but first, let's take a look back at the Week


Cameras will be allowed into court when David Gilroy is sentenced for


the murder. This is the first time permission has been granted to from


a sentencing at a High Court. Phil Walker, an SNP MSP expelled


from the party following domestic abuse allegations is staying on as


an independent nationalist MSPs. Tests carried out on fish caught


close to a gas leak at an Elgin oil platform has found they are not


contaminated. The environmental impact appears to be minimal.


evidence of any contamination a tainted hydrocarbons in any fish.


250 samples were taken so we are reassured. The first extensive


research on a new Schools Curriculum has suggested many


teachers were anxious about its implementation but the Scottish


government has said a great strides had been taken according to


information taken over the last school year. Next week, politicians


both North and South of the border will be returning to parliamentary


With me are two seasoned political observers, Iain Macwhirter and Alex


Massie. Thank you both for coming in. The


argument over charitable tax donations - where will this send-


up? I think it demonstrates two things. The first is that the


Treasury's default presumption that every pound in Britain belongs to


it. It will grudgingly allow it taxpayers to retain some of their


money but in an ideal world, but regime would receive all money


first and then gradually disperse some of it. The second thing is


that is another political problem for the Conservatives and for a


government that is friendless in the media. The Daily Mail has been


hostile and the Daily Telegraph has also been hostile. This is a


Conservative lead a government that is not tenable popular in the


Conservative press. The more details that come out about the


Chancellor's budget, you more you see it is -- the more you see here


is an inveterate tinkerer. It is all far too clever by half. It is


reminiscent of Gordon Brown in some respects. You have a Chancellor who


has delivered at tax-raising Budget ineptly disguised as a tax cutting


Budget. Once everything begins to unravel, people are increasingly


aware of how many taxes are being increased. And surprisingly, this


is unpopular. Where you surprised when he said he had no idea this


was going on? If he didn't know, that's worrying. People from his


background should know all about the ways in which charities and


charitable trusts can be used. The Government is making it clear there


will be concessions and this may make it even worse. There is an


inequity in that if you are I donate to charity, we cannot set


that against her income tax. We cannot use it to reduce their tax


bill. That is the inequity. People who have more money than we do can


do that. It has been used transparently as a way of reducing


tax. What is the answer then? We have heard about the problems if


those large donations Dyer up? Is the answer better regulated


charities? Perhaps we should all be given tax relief for her charitable


donations. Either that are encourage people who are wealthy


enough to pay donations to pay their taxes as well. A taxes go to


pay for schools and hospitals and to keep people at the poverty.


These are worthwhile objectives and I think it is wrong to avoid paying


what I did used to be part of a civil society, which are our taxes.


The obviously where in a pickle after the Budget after their granny


tax and the pass the tax. They had to do something to move matters on


and the focus on tax evasion. Looking at tax evasion, the first


issue is how money is given to charitable trusts. I thought Ian


was going to say it was just some dinner-party chat which would have


allowed me to say it, let's move on to the front page of the Economist.


That is the sort of thing you hear in dinner-parties. What did you


make of the fact, the sort of response is that drew in. First off,


it was a successful cover and managed to get people talking about


it. In terms of humour and irony of satire, it is the able but not


quite as feeble as many of the nationalist responses to it. It is


not a grotesque insult to all come up -- all Scots or evidence of


Little Englander imperialism. People have to grow up about it and


if you cannot take a joke, you cannot run a country. I thought it


was mildly amusing and a sub private-eye way. If you read the


article itself, it is a rather feeble proposition. You can see


right at the start that the Scot can actually pay their way. Looking


at where the SNP are heading in terms of membership of NATO, what


you think of that? It is moving and it has been moving for a long time.


NATO itself is something of an anachronism. It was set up to deal


with the perceived menace from the Soviet Union. That no longer


applies in the same form. The SNP is all about removing the negatives.


They want to encourage people that they are about joining something


rather than leaving everything. They say that instead of talking


about NATO we must talk about some kind of informal Nordic alliance


with countries who are non-nuclear. The problem is that NATO is


explicitly and nuclear alliance and we have the nuclear weapons here.


What is most interesting to see as we get closer to independence is


how the existence of these bases is used in negotiations on some form


of federalism or independence, and who will see some delaying of the


timetable over that in which nuclear weapons would be removed


from our soil. They will be part of independence negotiations?


negotiator would throw away the submarines on the Clyde. The SNP's


defence policy, like it and Akram's, was not built and a day. It is part


of a way of removing objections in Middle Scotland to voting SNP. They


need to reassure voters that in the same way the SNP has changed its


Political magazine presented by Andrew Neil and Isabel Fraser.

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