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Treasury Spending: Grants to Devolved Institutions

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:48 pm on 3rd July 2018.

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Photo of Elizabeth Truss Elizabeth Truss The Chief Secretary to the Treasury 6:48 pm, 3rd July 2018

It was very good to meet my hon. Friend to discuss the Clackmannanshire and Stirling city region deal and I look forward to visiting him and his colleagues soon in Scotland to see how things are working on the ground. I can confirm that we will be working further with the Scottish Government on those issues.

I commend the work that is being done on the oil and gas industry by my colleagues in Scotland. That issue was also raised by the hon. Members for Aberdeen North and for Glasgow North (Patrick Grady). As well as visiting Stirling and Clackmannanshire, I will be going up to Aberdeen to hear directly from representatives from the oil and gas industry. [Interruption.] Well, that is a very kind comment, sir, and may I offer Stephen Pound a happy birthday on this great occasion?

A number of Members raised the issue of health funding. As has been explained by the Prime Minister and the Chancellor, we will be presenting the details of how that will be funded in due course and, of course, the Barnett consequentials will be passed to the devolved Administration. It is very important that we ensure that, for every pound of money that we spend, we get maximum value for money. With that money going into the health service, we are making sure that it is improving productivity, improving efficiency and getting the maximum benefit from our hardworking staff on the frontline. That will, of course, be part of the work that we do as well.

On Brexit, we heard the usual contradictions from Scottish National party Members. First, they said that if we were to leave the customs union, which is what we, as a Government, have promised to do, that would be bad news for Scotland. We are, of course, seeking the most frictionless arrangements at the border that we possibly can. They also said that they wanted an independent Scotland, cut off from the rest of the UK. Given that goods worth £46 billion travel from Scotland into the rest of the UK every year, that sounds to me like a highly contradictory statement.

We also heard various comments about Northern Ireland and the additional £1 billion allocated to it. I point out to all Members of the House that, of course, we have the Barnett formula, which is about making sure that consequentials are passed through when there is a change in spending in England, but it is absolutely standard practice that we do fund outside the Barnett formula where it is valid, and we have done so in the past. For example, the Stormont House and Fresh Start agreements were funded outside the Barnett formula. We altered the Barnett formula, as was mentioned by Jonathan Edwards, to make sure that spending levels in Wales are fair, and we have also allocated extra money to city deals across Wales and Scotland, because they have, in many cases, largely devolved purposes.

I am pleased that the hon. Member for Aberdeen North welcomed the funding that we are providing for the potential visit of the American President to Scotland. I confirmed today that we will supply an extra £5 million to cover the cost incurred by Police Scotland. Again, that is outside the Barnett formula. Therefore, we do have the Barnett formula there for the important work that is done across Government, but it is right that we should look at the specific circumstances that we face with respect to Northern Ireland and to getting the right city deals in Scotland and Wales. We need to ensure that we use our funding in that flexible way.

We have heard some fantastic speeches in the House today, but I observe that the champions of fiscal rectitude and enterprise in Scotland sit on the Conservative Benches.