Orders of the Day — Referendums (Scotland and Wales) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:21 pm on 22nd May 1997.

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Photo of Mr Teddy Taylor Mr Teddy Taylor Conservative, Rochford and Southend East 4:21 pm, 22nd May 1997

The hon. Gentleman is right, and that is the basis on which nationalism has received more support than it otherwise merits. On the other hand, if a Scottish Parliament has tax-raising powers, it will lead inevitably to higher taxes in Scotland. As someone who has spent most of my life in Scotland, I am well aware that—for perfectly good and logical reasons—Scotland is subsidised by the rest of the UK. I am sure that the hon. Member for Banff and Buchan (Mr. Salmond) has figures to say that that is not so, but the plain fact is that Scotland does get subsidised. If a Scottish Parliament has separate tax-raising powers, it will mean higher taxation in Scotland and that will do no good.

Members of Parliament must think also about the democratic implications. For example, if I were a citizen of Wales or Scotland and I wished to complain about cuts in the schools programme, who would I contact? Who would I blame? Would I contact my county council? The council would say, "Not at all. The Assembly is to blame for not providing enough money." Would I contact my assemblyman in Wales or my Scottish parliamentarian? They would say, "It is not us—it is those London boys." A lot of people will be blaming each other, and it could be infinitely worse. There will be Members of this Parliament and members of the Scottish Parliament representing similar areas.