Expenditure and Taxation Levels

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Scotland – in the House of Commons at 1:50 pm on 20th November 1996.

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Photo of Mr Michael Forsyth Mr Michael Forsyth , Stirling 1:50 pm, 20th November 1996

It is certainly true that my right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer broke with the tradition of 100 years in last year's Budget by cutting the duty on whisky for the first time. I hope that that splendid new tradition will be continued.

My hon. Friend is right to say that Scotland enjoys considerably higher levels of public expenditure. I believe that that is a benefit for the Union. Despite what I am sometimes tempted to think when looking at Opposition Members, I also believe that it is a benefit for Scotland to have proportionately more Members of Parliament. In addition, we enjoy the office of Secretary of State—a Cabinet post that provides an important strong voice for Scotland. All those factors—the higher expenditure level, the representation at Westminster and the role of the Secretary of State—would be destroyed by Labour's plans for a tax-raising Parliament.