We will not accept faulty goods from Westminster, vows Sturgeon in VAT row

Nicola Sturgeon has hit back at claims her “incompetent” SNP Government is handing powers back to Westminster.

The First Minister instead insisted that “Brexit chaos” is leading to “creeping centralisation”.

She has come under fire after the Scottish Government delayed a move to allocate part of the cash raised by VAT direct to Edinburgh.

But Ms Sturgeon insisted Westminster is sending Scottish ministers “faulty goods”, arguing the assignation of VAT would not see any control over the charge transferred north.

Veteran SNP MSP Bruce Crawford, meanwhile, convener of Holyrood’s Finance and Constitution Committee, insisted the UK Government should “keep their grubby hands off this people of Scotland’s Parliament”.

The First Minister said: “This Parliament is better placed than a Tory Government or any UK Government to decide what is right for the people of Scotland and the sooner we see more powers in this Parliament, in fact the sooner we see this Parliament as an independent Parliament, the better for everyone.”

But she also argued that when powers are devolved to Scotland, UK ministers “shouldn’t send us faulty goods as they have tried to do on VAT”.

Speaking 20 years after the first Scottish Parliament elections in May 1999, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie accused the First Minister of sending powers back to London.

As well as delaying the assignation of VAT, Scottish Government ministers have come under fire for delaying the devolution of some benefits to Holyrood.

Challenging her on the issue at First Minister’s Questions, Mr Rennie said: “I can’t understand why the Scottish Government chose the 20th anniversary of the Scottish Parliament to hand a raft of powers back to Westminster.

“This week it was powers away on Value Added Tax, and of course social security powers are being sent back for five years.”

He asked the First Minister: “After 12 years in power, isn’t it true she is handing back powers to Westminster because her Government is so incompetent it just cannot cope?”

Ms Sturgeon insisted changes her Government introduced on welfare policy are already benefiting carers and poorer families.

She said: “It is because of our use of new powers that every carer across Scotland right now is getting an extra £450 a year, it’s because of our use of new powers that low-income families are getting more help when they have a child, or when that child goes to nursery and again when that child starts school.”

On VAT she stressed there is “no power to set the rates or levels of VAT” being given to MSPs, saying instead it is “just an assignment of revenues based on dodgy estimates”.

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