The more an activity risks spreading COVID-19, the more that activity should be taxed.
AIR PASSENGER DUTY
Air Passenger Duty should be massively increased considering that air travel was the way that COVID-19 was initially spread from China and air-travel can reintroduce COVID-19 to an area defeating all previous lockdown measures to eradicate the virus locally. A Scottish Air Passenger Duty should be charged for all flights into Scotland, including from the rest of the UK.
END ALL SUPPORT FOR THE INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL INDUSTRY
End rates relief, furlough payments for any company involved with the international travel industry – airports, airlines, cruise and passenger shipping, travel agents, bus and train services to England.
Cease government funding for Visit Scotland unless it changes its name to “DON’T Visit Scotland” and campaigns to keep tourists out for the duration of the pandemic. End any subsidy and support for all international festivals – such as the Edinburgh Festival and Fringe.
If this drives companies out of business then that is a price worth paying to discourage international travel to Scotland for the duration of the pandemic.
LOCAL ROAD PASSENGER DUTY
A Local Road Passenger Duty would encourage people to change their behaviour to stay local and not spread COVID-19 around because they would be taxed more the further they travel around in Scotland.
A Local Road Passenger Duty should be payable by vehicle owners, calculated as a base charge (£10 for example but the actual amount would be set in the Scottish budget) multiplied in proportion to the number of passenger seats (not including the driver’s seat) in the vehicle multiplied by the number of Scottish council areas the vehicle is taxed to drive in.
Local councils would collect the Local Road Passenger Duty, issue tax-paid display stickers and be responsible for detecting that the vehicles using their local roads had paid the Local Road Passenger Duty to use their local roads.
An owner of a car with 3 passenger seats lives in one council area, drives to work in a neighbouring council area and occasionally visits family by travelling through 2 additional council areas.
The Local Road Passenger Duty Tax is payable in proportion to 3 passenger seats x 4 council areas = 3 x 4 = 12 times the base charge of £10 = £120.
An owner of a car with 3 passenger seats which is only driven locally within the one council area.
The Local Road Passenger Duty is payable in proportion to 3 passenger seats x 1 council area = 3 x 1 = 3 times the base charge of £10 = £30.
An owner of a bus with 40 passenger seats runs a passenger service between 4 council areas.
The Local Road Passenger Duty is payable in proportion to 40 passenger seats x 4 council areas = 40 x 4 = 160 times the base charge of £10 so the bus owner is taxed £1,600.
The high tax for this bus service is appropriate for the danger it represents of spreading COVID-19 around.
A delivery van has one passenger seat and could be delivering to any of 20 council areas.
The Local Road Passenger Duty is payable in proportion to 1 passenger seat x 20 council areas = 1 x 20 = 20 times the base charge of £10 so the delivery van owner is taxed £200.
A taxi driver/owner has a taxi with 5 passenger seats and offers a taxi service to 6 council areas.
The Local Road Passenger Duty is payable in proportion to 5 passenger seats x 6 council areas = 5 x 6 = 30 times the base charge of £10 so the taxi owner is taxed £300.
A sports-fans’ mini-bus has 8 passengers seats and needs to travel through 12 local council areas to get to fixtures.
The Local Road Passenger Duty is payable in proportion to 8 passenger seats x 12 council areas = 8 x 12 = 96 times the base charge of £10 so the mini bus owner is taxed 96 x £10 = £960.
A motorcycle has one pillion passenger seat and travels to 7 council areas.
The Local Road Passenger Duty is payable in proportion to 1 passenger seat x 7 council areas = 1 x 7 = 7 times the base charge of £10 so the motorcycle owner is taxed 7 x £10 = £70.
A moped has no passenger seat and so the owner is exempted from paying any Local Road Passenger Duty on the moped.
RAIL PASSENGER DUTY
Rail passengers can spread COVID-19 around so train owners should be taxed Rail Passenger Duty for their trains too, according to the number of passenger seats times the number of council areas the train stops in.
FERRY PASSENGER DUTY
Same. Tax ferry owners Ferry Passenger Duty according to the number of ferry passenger seats times the number of council areas the ferry stops in. The ferry owner is not responsible for paying any Ferry Passenger Duty for the passenger seats in any cars transported by the ferry.
Why tax passenger seats not actual passengers
It is a lot easier for the tax collector to count the number of passenger seats in a vehicle than the number of passengers.
QUARANTINE FOR SCOTLAND CHARGES
I have published “Quarantine for Scotland” detailing the organisation of new managed facilities for compulsory quarantine for all travellers to Scotland. Charges to pay for all that should be levied on those who have to use those new quarantine facilities because they are choosing to travel to Scotland, deliver to Scotland, or leave then return to Scotland etc.
MAKE THE UK PAY COMPENSATION DAMAGES TAX
Scotland should win the power to tax, fine or get legal compensation from the UK for the economic damage done by its mismanagement of the Covid-19 pandemic and historically.
For decades, from Ravenscraig to Longannet, the UK has pursued the deindustrialisation of Scotland and left Scots with a reliance on tourism which has made Scotland’s economy particularly vulnerable to a pandemic.
Perhaps compensation of £100s billions to be paid to Scotland by the UK could be agreed but if not then the Scottish Parliament must win the powers to impose taxes on all UK officials who visit or live in Scotland so as to collect the compensation owed to Scotland from UK officials individually.
By “UK officials” I mean people like the Queen, Prince Charles, Prince William, Princess Anne, the UK Prime Minister and Cabinet members, Members of the Queen’s Privy Council, BBC senior management, Police Chiefs, UK Supreme Court Judges, Generals, members of the House of Lords etc.
Any of those UK officials who will not or cannot pay compensation damages taxes imposed should be excluded from Scotland for non-payment of their tax debts.
SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT FISCAL POWERS
The Scottish Parliament and Scottish Government have insufficient fiscal powers, specifically government borrowing powers, to invest to re-purpose the Scottish economy to cope with any significant economic challenge such as this Covid-19 emergency.
The Scottish government should be granted the power to borrow interest-free from the Bank of England / UK Treasury, with no repayments and no total debt limits, up to 8% of Scottish GDP.
This new Scottish government borrowing power should be permanent so that it could be used either to cope with an emergency like this pandemic or in normal times used to invest for economic growth.
If the UK refuses such new £ Sterling borrowing powers to the Scottish government then the Scottish Parliament should pass legislation to establish a new Scottish currency and Scottish central bank to manage our new currency, thereby enabling the Scottish government the normal borrowing powers of a government to borrow its own currency as required.
I might suggest that the name of a new Scottish currency should be
THE SCOTTISH POUND BANNOCKBURN
WHAT FISCAL RULES SHOULD THE SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT FOLLOW?
The Scottish government should never again do as it did in 2016 and ever since, namely so foolishly to agree with the UK to such a bad deal £ fiscal framework which imposed such derisory limits to the Scottish government’s borrowing powers.
The 2016 Fiscal Framework Agreement was an act of self-harm by the Scottish government and Scottish parliament and so this terrible mistake must never be repeated or allowed again.
The rule should be –
DON’T DARE TO OFFER OR ACCEPT LESS THAN 8% GDP £ SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT BORROWING POWERS OR ELSE SCOTS WILL SET UP OUR OWN CURRENCY.
Anticipating that the UK will break that rule, the Scottish Parliament and Scottish Government should expect to proceed to establish a new Scottish currency forthwith.
This blog post is by way of reply to the Scottish Government consultation –
My actual response to that consultation can be downloaded as a PDF from this link.