ALMOST a third of people in England think Scotland receives more than its fair share of government cash, a survey revealed today.
The latest British Social Attitudes report found 32 per cent of people in England felt that was the case. That compares with a total of 22 per cent in 2003, revealing growing concern about the amount of public spending north of the Border.
And the report's author, Professor John Curtice, warned that unless action was taken, the issue could "prove a flashpoint for the Union".
The 25th British Social Attitudes report also found 61 per cent of people in England thought Scottish MPs should not be able to vote on English legislation – the so-called West Lothian Question.
Despite that, the research, published by the independent social research organisation NatCen, found only a minority opposed the current devolution arrangements.
Just 18 per cent of people in England were against the idea of Scotland having its own parliament, while 20 per cent were opposed to the Welsh Assembly. And there was a small drop in the number of people in England who want Scotland to leave the Union. A total of 19 per cent of people in England wanted Scotland out of the UK, compared with 21 per cent in 1999.
Meanwhile, 57 per cent of people in England think the country should continue to be governed by Westminster, rather than by an English parliament.
And 55 per cent of people in England said the establishment of the Scottish Parliament had made no difference to how well Britain was governed, with 50 per cent stating they trusted the UK government to look after England's interests "just about always" or "most of the time".
Commenting on the report, Prof Curtice said: "There are signs of a growing reaction against the levels of public spending enjoyed by Scotland and the issue could yet prove a flashpoint for the Union unless it is seen to be satisfactorily addressed."
A Conservative spokesman said: "Spending in London and Northern Ireland is greater than spending in Scotland. That's the message that many people south of the Border still have to hear."
Another part of the survey revealed attitudes in Scotland to involvement of the private sector in public companies.
It showed a general lack of enthusiasm for the use of private companies to run public services – in Scotland only 11 per cent thought private firms should be allowed to run state schools, while 17 per cent felt they should run NHS hospitals.
These findings will cheer the SNP administration, which is opposed to the use of private companies in the public sector but other findings gave a different picture.
of English people say Scotland gets more than its fair share of cash (22% in 2003).
think Scottish MPs should not be able to vote on English legislation.
object to Scottish Parliament.
want Scotland out of UK.
think England should continue to be governed by Westminster.