Scotland ‘owed’ on UK debt repayment

SCOTLAND should not have to pay up its per-head share of UK debt because of the oil cash that helped boost the country’s coffers over the past few decades, Nicola Sturgeon has ­declared.

The Deputy First Minister argues today that Scotland handed more than its fair share of tax revenues to the UK Exchequer, largely because of the huge sums garnered from the North Sea.

Anticipating the key ­negotiations with the UK government that would follow a Yes vote to independence next year, she says the Scottish team would claim it should not have to pay up a per capita share.

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She says: “There will need to be some hard talking on the debt issue and it stands to reason that Scotland’s share of debt should take account of the substantial and disproportionately large contribution that Scotland has made to the Westminster coffers over the past 30 years.”

The question of how Scotland’s share of Britain’s £1 trillion, and growing, national debt has not yet been agreed by either London or Edinburgh.

However, previous work by the David Hume Institute in Edinburgh and by UK economists have based calculations on a per capita share. Charles Goodhart, a former member of the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee, estimated Scotland would inherit around £120.7bn of debt by 2014. But the Scottish Government is publishing figures today in which the debt total is based on Scotland’s historic tax revenue, boosted by oil. It claims, on this basis, the country would only have to take on £56bn.

The UK Treasury declined yesterday to state its position on how the UK would negotiate after a Yes vote, on the grounds that it does not pre-negotiate.