Waste Announcement - 24th January 2008
Jamie Hepburn (Central Scotland) (SNP): Does the cabinet secretary agree that taxation can be about more than just the economy and that, if it is used properly, it can boost environmental initiatives? He spoke about landfill. Does he believe that control over the landfill tax should be the preserve of the Scottish Government and this Parliament? Does he believe that the unionist parties should consider that issue as part of their tripartite commission that is investigating the devolution of more powers to the Scottish Parliament?
Richard Lochhead: Of course I believe that if this Parliament had greater options to work up eco-taxes—if we had the fiscal powers to do so—that would greatly help our environmental and waste strategies. Unfortunately, for the time being, we do not have those powers. Perhaps that is something that the other parties in this chamber can reflect on. The environment is far more important than the unionist parties' obsession with the constitution.
Control of the landfill tax should be devolved to this Parliament. It is estimated that, of the roughly £1 billion that the United Kingdom raises from landfill tax, perhaps—I say "perhaps" because Scottish figures are not published—up to £100 million is generated in Scotland. That will not be reflected in our Barnett consequentials, so we are paying a net fund to the UK Treasury under the landfill tax. Of course, we should be able to retain that resource in Scotland in order to invest it in the future of Scotland's environment.