It's Time for a Levy on Weapons of Mass Destruction

The "Trident Toll" would use devolved powers over local taxation to place a new charge on Trident, with an initial aim to raise £85 million a year - Scotland's share of the cost of Britain's nuclear weapons, money that could be better spent delivering improved local services.  The levy would only apply to the nuclear warheads.

Commenting, Mr Salmond said:

"I believe that most Scots would rather see the government spend money making Scotland a safer, healthier and fairer country than wasting it on nuclear weapons.

"Labour are in headlong retreat on this issue.  Their spin doctors briefed on Saturday that such a levy would be illegal, but by Sunday Armed Forces Minister Adam Ingram backtracked from that mistaken position on the BBC 'Politics Show', lamely saying just that it 'would have to be tested'.

"It is right to tax the bad things on environmental grounds,¬ and nuclear weapons are among the very worst.  This Trident Toll will be a powerful new deterrent, and we hope will make the UK government think again about bringing a new generation of nuclear bombs to Scotland's shores.

"The people of Scotland have the opportunity to choose between two very different visions for Scotland's future.  I have no doubt that nuclear weapons are the wrong choice for a successful Scotland.

"At the moment the Scottish Parliament can't remove Trident from Scottish shores.  But we can take a stand and show that Scotland's priorities are the wellbeing and future success of our citizens, not immoral nuclear weapons."

ENDS

Notes:

We have looked in detail at provisions in the Scotland Act 1998, which cover the full range of options that would be available to us in relation to Trident.  There is clear scope in both the environment and taxation powers for action on nuclear weapons.

Our favoured option is to use the taxation powers to create an additional cost disincentive for "Son of Trident".

Taxing Trident

Scotland Act 1998, Schedule 5 Part II Head A - Financial and Economic Matters [reserved to Westminster]

A1. Fiscal, economic and monetary policy.  Fiscal, economic and monetary policy, including the issue and circulation of money, taxes and excise duties, government borrowing and lending, control over United Kingdom public expenditure, the exchange rate and the Bank of England.

Exception: Local taxes to fund local authority expenditure (for example, council tax and non-domestic rates).

This clearly gives the Scottish Parliament the power to pass any local tax, and as Trident convoys pass through a range of local authorities across the south and central belt of Scotland there is a clear option for a "Trident Toll" or equivalent.

The toll would only apply to nuclear warheads and to no other material. It is not a "road toll" and would not be raised in relation to the vehicles transporting the nuclear material.  It is a levy on the warheads, and would be applied on the current Trident programme.

How Much the Toll would raise

As a starting point, and as a minimum, we believe the toll should recover Scotland's share of the costs of Britain's nuclear weapons, around £85 million.

We believe Scottish taxpayers would rather not waste money on weapons of mass destruction, preferring the investment in local services.

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