FOLLOWING the so-called Edinburgh Agreement, David Cameron declared he would not expend scarce financial resources on examining Whitehall-related aspects of the independence debate.
So, having departed from that mantra, we are entitled to know what was the cost of producing the Treasury paper, Scotland analysis – Fiscal policy and sustainability, given that it provides only a hostile view of independence, and Scottish taxpayers’ money has been utilised. (Your report, “Scottish and UK ministers clash over cash boost”, 29 May.)
The Treasury paper chooses to highlight that, by voting No, Scotland would be £1,400 a head better off. Without researching the precise provenance of that figure, my own reading is it equates precisely to the expenditure advantage we have at present under Barnett arrangements.
But the origin of that lead was the flooding of Scotland with extra money in the postwar years to stem the nationalist threat.
In 1979, the formula was introduced to give Scotland year-on-year enhancement to cover inflation, etc, on a straight population-based (10 per cent) ratio of what England received, but as we were spending about 20 per cent more a head, that applied a 1 per cent, £250 million, annual squeeze on the block grant of, say, £25 billion.
The effect is demonstrated by the fact that our lead a few years ago was about £1,600 a head. So it is fatuous to claim that, if we vote No, the £1,400 figure would be sustained for 20 years.
If the Calman income tax proposals in the Scotland Act 2012 are implemented, we would take responsibility for the 10p half of the standard rate, and its proceeds of £5bn would come off the block grant, but Barnett would still apply, so we would lose about £200m each year.
The paradox is that this does not essay how badly off we would be, and our need for subsidy from English taxpayers (the only possible source of the £1,400 we need). Rather it is a litany based on the additional powers the Unionist parties have been promising us. Even now, only 100 days from 18 September, the Tories’ so-called Strathclyde Commission report is nowhere to be seen, with the end-May deadline for making it available now upon us.
Only when we have all of these proposals will we be able to judge whether the prospects they offer the Scots (thus by-passing Calman) would be an improvement on independence.
Douglas R Mayer
THE great debate over Scotland’s Future has descended to the point of bribery.
Both Yes and No are trying to convince us that if we vote for their particular future Scotland we will be better off as individuals to the tune of £1,000-£2,000. How sad that a debate that had such great potential has descended so low.
In Scotland at the present time we have a large prison population, poverty-stricken estates throughout the land and food banks.
We have a National Health Service that is overstretched, and schools that are under-achieving, and for many poverty knocks on the door.
I don’t want to be told by either side that we will be better off, when others suffer.
Perhaps politicians should reflect on their own lifestyle with their excellent wages and expenses and try to make the lot of others bearable. Instead they enjoy the politics of the bear pit as they shout at one another across the chambers.
And the Scottish Parliament was supposed to be open, friendly and non-confrontational. What happened?
We don’t want bawbees, we want a good debate that promises a better Scotland.
(Rev Dr) George Grubb