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Barnett Formula

Volume 497: debated on Wednesday 14 October 2009

6. What his most recent assessment is of the effectiveness of the Barnett formula in allocating funding to Scotland. (292283)

The Barnett formula is simple, efficient and effective. It means that every £1 extra public expenditure per person in England is matched exactly for each man, woman and child elsewhere in the United Kingdom.

I thank the Secretary of State for that answer, but does he agree with what Lord Barnett has said? He said:

“I do not consider it is successful. I do not think it is fair”.

If Lord Barnett thinks that, why do not the Government think that?

We have considered this very carefully. Recently, the Calman commission—an independent expert group—considered it and said very clearly that the formula is

“a pragmatic solution to the funding question and is near costless”

to operate. We have no plans to change the Barnett formula; I know that many of those who sit on the Conservative Benches do. That is one reason why so many people in Scotland distrust the modern Conservative party.

The Scottish Government will have more money next year than they have this year. That is a remarkable benefit of the economics of the United Kingdom. The fact is that the SNP Scottish Government today have double the budget that Donald Dewar had when he was First Minister. However, the SNP Scottish Government will have to tighten their belt and make some savings in the same way as every family and company in Scotland is doing.