Scottish nationalists lose budget vote

Scottish National Party (SNP) leader Alex Salmond looks at his supporters at a post-election party in Edinburgh, Scotland, May 4, 2007. REUTERS/David Moir

EDINBURGH (Reuters) - Scotland’s nationalist government failed to pass its budget for the coming year in a hung vote in the devolved Holyrood assembly on Wednesday.

Votes were evenly matched with 64 members for the 33 billion pound budget, and 64 against, including Labour, Liberal Democrat and two Green members.

Presiding officer Alex Fergusson broke the tie by casting the deciding vote against the money bill.

The Scottish government, headed by Scottish National Party leader Alex Salmond, took power as a minority administration in May 2007 after defeating a Labour-Liberal Democrat coalition in an election.

Following the vote, Finance Secretary John Swinney said new budget proposals would be put to the parliament “at the earliest opportunity, and certainly within a matter of days.”

Failure to pass a budget could throw the future of the SNP administration into doubt. The devolved Scottish parliament was officially opened for the first time by Queen Elizabeth on July 1, 1999.

The Edinburgh parliament’s responsibilities include law, education, medical care and policing but not taxation in the country with a population of around five million .