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Scotland’s Future

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 18th September 2013.

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Photo of Malcolm Chisholm Malcolm Chisholm Labour

That is because of his knowledge, his experience and what he achieved, as I shall remind members in a moment—I cannot take interventions until I have done that.

The First Minister made three points about the economy, although one was in response to Gavin Brown. First, we had the selective quotation of facts, which always happens. We were told that, in each of the past two or perhaps three decades, we have paid more tax per head than the rest of the UK. That is of course correct because of oil, which we all welcome but which will not last for ever. However, the SNP never says what the spending was. The fact is that in only six of the past 22 years have Scottish revenues as a percentage of UK revenues been higher than Scottish spending as a percentage of UK spending. The figure this year is quoted, because it happens to be higher, but that has been the case in only six of the past 22 years.

The First Minister talked about control of tax policy, but Gavin McCrone—I recommend that everybody reads his book as the standard one on the economy—makes it clear that the rest of the UK would oversee fiscal policy. All the economists say that—even John Kay and others who are the First Minister’s advisers.

The First Minister responded to Gavin Brown’s point about the comment that Scotland would not inherit a share of debt, which is absolutely ludicrous, as Scotland would of course inherit a share. The very important point is that long-term interest rates for borrowing would be higher. Even with all the weaknesses and problems of the present UK economy, we have the advantage of low interest rates, which we would not have after 2016.