The variation of Corporation Tax across the UK may one of the unlikeliest (and possibly least important) outcomes from today’s summit between Scotland and Northern Ireland’s devolved leadership. But when Alex Salmond talks about fiscal independence, he may be pushing at a slightly open door with both the DUP and Sinn Fein since both have talked about the desirability of tax varying powers. Scotland already has these, but under a Labour administration never seemed in the least tempted to use them. Tom Gordon in the Sunday Times reports:
The visit is the first step in Salmond’s plan to unite the leaders of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in order to confront Gordon Brown with joint demands when he is prime minister.
The intitial request will be to revive a series of mothballed joint ministerial committees between the regions and Whitehall, in which cabinet secretaries would thrash out cross-border issues, with an annual meeting of the three first ministers and the prime minister.
After establishing the formal framework, Salmond intends to push for more financial powers for the Scottish parliament, with corporation tax a priority. The SNP government wants to cut the rate from 30% to 20%, while the Northern Ireland government has argued that, as part of the peace process, it should have parity with the Irish Republic, where the rate is 12.5%.