THE Scottish Government has denied Alex Salmond will travel to Whitehall tomorrow to "pick a fight" with David Cameron on the so-called bedroom tax just 24 hours before the SNP conference begins at Perth on Thursday.


Loading article content

The First Minister will attend the Joint Ministerial Committee in Downing Street along with his Welsh counterpart, Labour's Carwyn Jones, as well as Peter Robinson, the First Minister of Northern Ireland, and his deputy, Martin McGuiness. The session, to be chaired by the Prime Minister, will also be attended by Alistair Carmichael, the new Scottish Secretary.

On the agenda will be the economy, immigration, international sporting events and intergovernmental relations. Mr Salmond is expected to raise the bedroom tax or, as the Coalition describes it, the single room subsidy, under "any other business" towards the end of the meeting.

A source close to the FM insisted how Mr Salmond was keen to put the bedroom tax on the agenda but denied he was seeking to pick a political fight just ahead of the SNP conference.

"The people of Scotland would expect the First Minister to raise issues of concern that affect ordinary people and that's exactly what he will be doing."

A Whitehall insider said it was up to Mr Salmond what he raised but made clear that the point of the JMC was to focus on how different parts of the UK could work well together. He cited the issue of the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow as a "good example of co-operation" between the different nations from issues such as security and doping checks.

"We're hoping for a good, healthy and productive outcome," he added.

Meanwhile, Labour said a report by York University, which suggested the Department for Work and Pensions might have significantly over-estimated the savings of the single room subsidy, was "another nail in the coffin of David Cameron's crumbling case for the bedroom tax".