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Scotland Bill — Committee (5th Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 5:15 pm on 21st March 2012.

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Photo of Lord Kerr of Kinlochard Lord Kerr of Kinlochard Crossbench 5:15 pm, 21st March 2012

I understand the Minister's logic, which seems to depend on the control total being the block grant. The block grant is what matters. All this stuff about tax is for perception and presentation at the edges. The block grant has to be maintained. Apparently the example in the Sassoon letter, which I have not seen, concerns a case where the Scottish economy would have benefited from the additional buoyancy and spending power of a reduction in the level of taxation paid by Scotland. However, because we are seeing everything through the prism that the block grant is the control, it needs to be maintained in Scotland, so the Scots need to be compensated for the additional buoyancy in the Scottish economy. That is quite difficult politically. The reverse case, which the Minister prefers not to talk about, is almost impossible to present politically in Scotland.

The trouble is that these tax revisions are neither fish nor fowl; they are only a good red herring. We are not addressing the real issue on taxation. I entirely agree with the noble Lord, Lord Browne of Ladyton, that accountability is accountability for spending and for raising the money which you spend. Until we get that and get away from having the block grant as the control, we will have a continuing unsatisfactory situation.