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Labour Would Introduce Graduate Tax

George outside UWS were students benefit from free tuition

George outside UWS were students benefit from free tuition

Paisley’s MSP George Adam is today highlighting the slip-up made by Labour’s leader in Scotland Johann Lamont where she revealed that Labour would introduce a Graduate Tax.

In an interview with BBC Scotland’s Political Editor Brian Taylor, Ms Lamont twice dodged questions on whether she would introduce a Graduate Tax before finally, when pressed, conceded: “You have to look at these things in the round”.

George, who is a member of the Education Committee at Holyrood said, “We knew they were wanting to raise our council taxes and stop free concessionary travel for the elderly, but to know concede that they are looking at introducing a back door fee for higher education is shocking.

‘Labour’s ‘Together we can’ document makes bold claims about widening access on Higher education but there is no mention of this policy. Yet after one 30 minute interview the whole thing unravels.

‘Instead of coming out with statements which Ms Lamont has no answers or facts to back up, like we have seen with Labours’ plans to devolve some taxes but not others, surely Johann Lamont should be straight with the people of Scotland and say exactly what they will get if they vote for a Labour government in 2015.

‘Ms Lamont has a track record of staying silent on big issues, or as she phrased them ‘the wee things’, like the renewal of Trident.

“The SNP Scottish Government has a cast iron commitment to the continuation of the free access for Scottish and non-Scottish domiciled students to higher education, based on the ability to learn and not the ability to pay.

‘This will continue in an independent Scotland. The Scottish Parliament will then have full control over immigration allowing fee-paying international students to come and study here, contributing to our world leading research, something that is hampered at present but the UK government’s policy which is at odds with the needs and wants of the Scottish people.”

Watch the interview by clicking here.  From 20 min 40 seconds

Brian Taylor: “So there is a possibility that you would introduce a graduate endowment?

Johann Lamont: *Dodges question*

BT: “I’m still not hearing what you are doing on funding – Are you talking about a graduate endowment?

JL: “We are working through our proposals and we will certainly have these in front of people before 2016 manifesto.

BT: And there is a possibility of a graduate payment?

JL: “You have to look at these things in the round. Because what we get is this idea that there is this totally pain free choice for whom there is no damage to anybody and everything over here is an absolute disaster. I think actually people in Scotland get that it can’t be right, it can’t be right that we have the worst support for poor students in the UK and still talk about free education. We have to think about these things…”

Labour’s ‘Together we can’ document mention of Higher education: “Labour is working on a framework that will provide a sustainable future for both further and higher education, with, at its heart, widening access and proper student support.”

Labour MSP’s Challenged to Come Clean on Prescription Stance

George with Staff at one of Paisley's Busy ChemistsLabours West of Scotland MSP’s have been challenged to reveal whether they support moves by Johann Lamont’s Cuts Commission to re-impose prescription charges to an estimated 7900 people in Paisley who earn less than £16,000.

Until they were abolished last year by the SNP, 600,000 people across Scotland with an income of less than £16,000 were charged for their prescriptions when they became ill.

Last week Johann Lamont repeatedly attacked the principle of free prescriptions during the launch of her Cuts Commission, although others in her party have challenged her leadership by voicing doubts over her stance on the issue.

SNP MSP for Paisley, George Adam has written to West of Scotland Labour MSP’s, challenging them to publicly state whether they believe that 7900 people in Paisley should pay for their ill-health through prescription charges, despite earning £16,000 or less.

Commenting, George said:

“When the SNP Government abolished prescription charges, it was fantastic news for people in Paisley.

“Before free prescriptions were introduced, thousands of people in Paisley were paying an unfair tax on their ill-health, despite having an income of £16,000 or less.

“That was utterly unjust which is why the SNP stepped in to end these charges.

“Why Johann Lamont wants to re-introduce such an unfair policy for people on low incomes is beyond me, but I know that people in Paisley will expect their regional MSP’s to nail their colours to the mast and reveal whether they support re-imposing a tax on ill-health.

“Will they join Johann Lamont on this disgraceful attack on people with ill-health or stand up for some of the lowest paid people in Paisley?”