Tories to push for finance transparency at party conference

The Bill would force the Scottish Government to publish a quarterly update on the budget.

18 March 2022

The Scottish Tories are set to unveil a Bill aimed at “opening the books” on the first day of their party conference in Aberdeen.

The legislation would require the Scottish Government to publish an update to the budget every three months, which would include a statement from the Finance Secretary.

If the legislation is passed, the Scottish Government would also be compelled to publish monthly data on the uptake of funds it offers, as well as publishing a value for money statement ahead of taking ownership of a private company.

Party leader Douglas Ross, said the Scottish Government should be able to prove how “every penny of (taxpayer) money is spent”.

“Our Open the Books Bill would strengthen financial transparency and government accountability,” he said.

“Too often, the vast sums that the SNP have at their disposal is shrouded in secrecy.

“We’ve all seen SNP ministers insist that they’re skint, only to hastily find another hundred million to spend.

“Just this week, Audit Scotland highlighted serious flaws in the transparency of Covid business grants, caused by a lack of information.

“There is a pressing need to open the books so that taxpayers can get better value for money.

“We’re building the real alternative to the SNP, so we can end the secrecy that is holding Scotland back.”

Boris Johnson is set to attend the first day of the conference after Mr Ross U-turned on his repeated calls for the Prime Minister to resign.

Mr Ross, alongside most Tory MSPs, had demanded Mr Johnson quit amid an outcry over parties held in Downing Street during England’s coronavirus lockdown.

But last week the Scottish Tory leader withdrew his letter of no confidence to the backbench 1922 Committee, citing the need for stability in Government as it looks to respond to the aggression in Ukraine, and the Prime Minister’s visit was confirmed.

It is expected Mr Johnson’s speech will mostly centre around the Ukraine situation.

Speaking to the Telegraph, Mr Ross cautioned against removing the Prime Minister during a time of such international strife.

“I think it would be extremely dangerous to try to destabilise the United Kingdom when Russia is killing innocent people in Ukraine,” he said.

“Seeking to remove the Prime Minister just now would be a big boost to Vladimir Putin.”

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