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Friday, 30 January 2015

Move to scrap 'Poll Tax' debt clears first hurdle

The Scottish National Party’s move to abolish outstanding debts from Mrs Thatcher's Community Charge, which was dubbed the Poll Tax, has today cleared a major hurdle as the Scottish Parliament voted in favour of the move at stage one. Following a surge in voter registration during the independence referendum, several Scottish councils began to indicate that they would use the new data to pursue ancient unpaid Community Charge bills. The Scottish Government acted to prevent this move which the Scottish Government say would act as a barrier to democratic participation by introducing the Community Charge Debt (Scotland) Bill.

Commenting, SNP MSP Mark McDonald said: "Today’s vote is hugely welcome and represents a major step towards righting the historic wrong that the Poll Tax represents. The referendum helped to involve people in politics who hadn’t voted in decades and that is something that should be celebrated – not something that should see people hounded for ancient debts as some councils indicated they wanted to do."

Mr McDonald continued: "The Poll Tax was a disastrous experiment that the Tories inflicted on Scotland - only made possible because of the lack of a Scottish Parliament at the time - and its toxic legacy should not be allowed to undermine democratic participation today. Many councils freely admit that the bulk of outstanding Poll Tax debt is uncollectable and several local authorities have already written off the outstanding debt in their area. Protecting people from being pursued for these ancient debts is the right thing to do and I am delighted at the progress towards this that has been made today"