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Treasury Spending: Grants to Devolved Institutions

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:30 pm on 3rd July 2018.

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Photo of Patrick Grady Patrick Grady SNP Chief Whip 6:30 pm, 3rd July 2018

Precisely. If we want to talk about wasting public expenditure, we have only to look up the corridor.

Luke Graham was quoting from his Whip’s note about what financial transactions money was being spent on, but he neglected to say, as my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeen North pointed out at the very start, is that financial transactions money has to be paid back, so it is not money that the Scottish Government have the kind of discretion over that they need and deserve.

Andrew Bowie is not in the best position to lecture us about the payroll vote. We salute the fact that he holds a place of greater esteem on the Government Benches than his hon. Friends, but I want to take him back to my modern studies class at the Inverness Royal Academy way back in 1996 and 1997 where we talked about why funding per head is greater in Scotland than in the other parts of the United Kingdom. There are two good reasons, as some of the Scottish Conservatives should know. First, we have higher costs on account of having large rural areas that need to be served. Secondly, the figures are for identifiable public expenditure, and we all know that the vast amount of unidentifiable public expenditure is spent here in the south-east of England in London on Departments and large-scale infrastructure projects that are of no benefit whatsoever to the people of Scotland.

The name that allowed me to tick off my Scottish Tory bingo sheet was that of Stephen Kerr. He said that Scotland is the highest-taxed part of the United Kingdom, which everybody was delighted to hear. Perhaps the Scottish Tories at the Hurlingham Club Tory summer ball last night were weeping into their warm prosecco over the leadership plots and the fact that they now have to pay, like all SNP Members, an extra 60p a month because tax is going up in Scotland. For what we get in Scotland, such as free prescriptions, more bobbies on the beat, investment in education, free tuition and mitigation of the Tory bedroom tax, I think that that is pretty good value for money. In addition, everyone in Scotland earning less than £33,000 a year, which includes squaddies, nurses and teachers at the start of their careers, is paying less. That is the simple fact of the effect of the Scottish Government’s budget, so we do not need to hear any more about that.

As this is an estimates debate, I want to reflect on a couple of points about how spending decisions are made in Scotland once the grant has been agreed and the tax revenue collected. As Members who have previously served in the Scottish Parliament will know, we have an open and full legislative process to agree Government spending during which Members can make suggestions. The Opposition parties in Scotland are good at explaining the things on which they would like more to be spent, but they are not so good at explaining where they think cuts should come from or what should be reduced. Nevertheless, they have the opportunity.