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Scots' tax plan 'out in two weeks'


Chancellor George Osborne is to set out ideas for further devolution for tax and spending to Scotland

Chancellor George Osborne is to set out ideas for further devolution for tax and spending to Scotland

Chancellor George Osborne is to set out ideas for further devolution for tax and spending to Scotland

The Government is to publish a paper setting out ideas on how further tax and spending powers could be devolved to Scotland within the next fortnight, Chancellor George Osborne said today.

He made the announcement when addressing business leaders at the Institute of Directors' annual convention, indicating further devolution to city regions could be around the corner too.

He said: "There is the argument across the political parties that Scotland should have more devolution coming out of the Scottish referendum.

"I can tell you in just over a week's time, we will publish a command paper which will set out some of the ideas for further devolution for tax and spending to Scotland.

"But I don't think we should rest there."

Pointing to the successful model of the London Mayor, he went on: "We are examining at the moment what more we can do to pass decisions to local areas, decisions around housing, planning, potentially local taxation as well.

"We have already done quite a lot of that. I would say we have done more in the last four years than we have seen in the the last 20 years.

"But it is a direction we are going to continue on and I think you will hear more about that this autumn.

"Reducing the gap between north and south, or London and the rest might be a better way of putting it, is an absolute driving mission of the Conservative Government, and a Conservative ambition we should enshrine in all that we do."

The Chancellor also urged business leaders not to sit on the sidelines of the political debate on Britain's position within the EU in the run-up to the general election.

During his Q&A session with delegates at the Royal Albert Hall, he said: "You have to get out there and put the business argument.

"Because there are plenty of pressure groups, plenty of trade unions and plenty of charities and the like that will put the counter view.

"It is I know a difficult decision sometimes to put your head above the parapet, but that is the only way we are going to win this argument for an enterprising, business, low-tax economy that delivers prosperity for the people and generations to come.

"There is a big argument in our country ... about our future, about whether we are a country that is for business, for enterprise, for the free market.

"For the first time in my adult life that is up for grabs. That issue felt like it had been resolved when the Berlin Wall fell ... politicians like Tony Blair from the left felt like they had understood that free markets create the taxes to fund public services.

"That argument has gone."

Asked about free movement of people, he said it was important to find a way forward which preserves what works in the EU while addressing the "very real concerns" of many members of the British public.

The Tatton MP agreed with a question from the floor that the "most obvious weakness" in the British economy was its export performance.

He said: "That is something that is partly affected by what is going on in the eurozone, which I would identify as probably the greatest immediate economic risk to us."

Currently 40% of exports go to the eurozone, he added.

With that in mind, he urged entrepreneurs not to fear entering export markets that are further afield.

He went on: "We have not connected ourselves enough witj the big fast-growing economies in Asia, South America and the like.

"Too many of our small and middle-sized businesses have felt daunted about entering into export markets.

"That's not the case for small and medium-sized companies for example in Germany.

"I'm the absolute first to say that the job is not done in this space."