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Scottish Parliament (Financial Accountability)

Oral Answers to Questions — Scotland – in the House of Commons at 11:30 am on 26th January 2011.

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Photo of Robert Halfon Robert Halfon Conservative, Harlow 11:30 am, 26th January 2011

What recent representations he has received from the Scottish Executive on the financial accountability of the Scottish Parliament.

Photo of David Mundell David Mundell The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland

The most recent such representations related specifically to the financial provisions of the Scotland Bill, received around the time of its introduction on 30 November 2010. Since May last year, Scotland Office Ministers have not received any representations from Scottish Ministers describing the detail or the estimated economic impact of any alternative proposals to deliver financial accountability to the Scottish Parliament.

Photo of Robert Halfon Robert Halfon Conservative, Harlow

On average, the Government spend about £7,000 a year per person in England, but they spend about £8,500 per person in Scotland. What comfort can the Minister give to my hard-pressed taxpayers in Harlow that their money is being spent wisely?

Photo of David Mundell David Mundell The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland

The Government understand that concerns have been expressed about the Barnett formula, but their priority is the stabilisation of the public finances. That is our priority for this Parliament.

Photo of Angus MacNeil Angus MacNeil Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Transport), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Constitutional Reform), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Scotland)

While the VAT rise was swift, we are still waiting for the rural fuel derogation in the islands. In my constituency, fuel costs £1.45 a litre, but I have information that, in the tiny Faroe Islands, the prices is 94p a litre for diesel and £1.10 for petrol. The islands control their own fuel taxation. Should not Scotland, with 5 million people, have at least the powers of an island group of 48,000?

Photo of David Mundell David Mundell The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland

I would have thought that the hon. Gentleman would be pleased that we finally have a Government who are taking forward the issue of fuel prices in remote and rural areas and who are looking to hold a pilot in constituencies such as his to establish how exactly it would operate in practice.