Saturday, June 16, 2007

Lord Forsyth and Barnett

Interesting to see that (perhaps) the last Conservative Scottish Secretary, Lord Forsyth, has stuck his head above the parapet and called on the prime minister-t0-be, Gordon Brown, to scrap the so-called Barnett formula and replace it with a needs-based assessment of expenditure throughout the United Kingdom. Otherwise, he said, Brown risked feeding the 'worm of separatism which is growing at the heart of the Union'.

Lord Forsyth, who as Michael Forsyth was Scottish Secretary from 1995-97, made his remarks at a dinner on Thursday evening to celebrate the three-hundredth anniversary of the Treaty of Union. Henry McLeish, the former Scottish Office minister and First Minister, has since waded into the debate, and accused Westminster of picking fights with the SNP in Edinburgh, as opposed to the other way round.

You can read more coverage of this story in today's Herald by clicking here.


Blogger David Lindsay said...

The West Lothian Question is a red herring: the Parliament of the United Kingdom may choose at any time to enact legislation effective in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland within policy areas currently devolved, and that legislation would prevail over any enacted by a devolved body. It simply chooses not to, just as it chooses not to add to, or subtract from, the devolved policy areas in any of the three cases. But it could, if it wanted to.

However, there is a real constitutional outrage, namely the Barnet Formula. Since we on the Left know and understand welfare and public services to be the entitlements of citizens as such, the Barnet Formula is an unconstitutional denial to the people of England of equal citizenship of the United Kingdom as guaranteed by the Treaties and Acts of Union. It simply has to go.

A very good start would be to restore free undergraduate tuition in England, and to pay for this by deducting the cost from the block grant to the Scottish Parliament.

10:00 AM


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