Scottish Budget passes first stage at Holyrood after deal

MSPs backed it by 65 votes to 54 following the £158m SNP-Green Budget deal struck on Wednesday.

Tom Parnell (CC BY-SA 2.0)

MSPs have in principle backed the Scottish Government’s draft tax and spending plans for the year in the wake of the SNP and Greens’ £158m Budget deal.

Holyrood passed the legislation by 65 votes to 54 at stage one, with the support of six Scottish Green MSPs enough to give Nicola Sturgeon’s government a majority.

It comes despite opposition from the Tories, Labour and the Lib Dems, all of whose MSPs voted against.

New finance secretary Kate Forbes reached an agreement with the Greens on Wednesday including a commitment to funding free bus travel for under-19s from 2021 onwards.

The package also boosted local government funding by £95m, money for policing by £18m and included a raft of measures to tackle climate change totalling £45m.

An amendment to the Budget Bill put forward by Scottish Conservative finance spokesman Donald Cameron which would have acknowledged a lack of funding for drug rehab beds and capital funding for councils was defeated.

The Tory motion, which also expressed “regret” at further divergence from the rest of the UK on income tax, fell by 29 votes to 90.

The finance secretary said: “I’m pleased that parliament has supported this Budget at stage one which will deliver certainty for vital public services, tackle the climate emergency and provide record investment for health and social care.”

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