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Treasury Spending: Grants to Devolved Institutions

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:12 pm on 3rd July 2018.

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Photo of Luke Graham Luke Graham Conservative, Ochil and South Perthshire 6:12 pm, 3rd July 2018

The performance has been lamentable. Scotland’s schools have fallen in the rankings in reading, mathematics and science. We have gone from No. 1 in the UK to No. 3. Scottish education, which was once a byword for excellence in the world, is now merely ranked as average in most international tables. That is not doing Scotland down; it is recognising a problem because we want to solve it.

I am conscious of time so I will come to my last point. We have all heard of “tax and spend” Governments, but we rarely hear of “tax and underspend” Governments, yet that is what we have in Edinburgh. In 2017-18, the Government underspent by £453 million. The Finance Secretary in Edinburgh says, “This is all part of a plan. It is normal to underspend on your budget.” I think the Chief Secretary to the Treasury would probably say it is not normal for Departments to lobby to underspend on their budgets; in fact, they want to meet or exceed those budgets.

This underspend covers £66 million for volatility; £100 million for a new social security system—instead of actually working with the UK Government to build a better devolved social security system; and £50 million from better tax receipts that they are not refunding or reinvesting in Scottish local authorities. This would be bad in one year, but it is in addition to the £191 million underspend from the previous year. The SNP continues to scream for more powers and spending, and yet when its receives the powers, it does not use them, and when it sees the money, it does not spend it.

My constituents are fed up with the mismanagement of the SNP. That is why we Scottish Conservatives have stood here tonight. Why is it that, despite more money going from Westminster to Edinburgh, we still face cuts to our local council services, in Clackmannanshire and in Perth and Kinross, cuts to music education, cuts to support services for disabled people, cuts in infrastructure, cuts to our roads and paths—[Interruption.] If Pete Wishart wants to make an intervention, he is more than welcome to do so. [Interruption.] Oh yes, I am conscious of time so I will not give way. It is time for the SNP to take account of the money its receives and to take responsibility for the budgets it receives from Westminster; it is not time for my constituents to carry on paying for the mismanagement of the SNP.