Electoral Reform

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 12:11 pm on 17th January 2001.

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Photo of Robert Syms Robert Syms Shadow Spokesperson (Environment, Transport and the Regions) 12:11 pm, 17th January 2001

The hon. Member makes that point, but of course the Barnett formula does mean that public spending north of the border is one fifth higher than throughout most of the United Kingdom. Some of those that understand these matters better than I, say that over a 10-year period that will unscramble and matters will change with population changes, but the Scottish Parliament can, of course, determine its own resources.

There is a danger that devolution could top-slice local government too, and I understand that there has been some tension between local government and the Scottish Parliament. Underlying this constitutional argument is the keen issue of how resources are divided in the UK. The hon. Member for Great Grimsby made an enjoyable speech, but did not specify how additional resources would be allocated to Yorkshire or the north--whether they would be raised from areas without devolution, or indeed whether there would be a higher tax rate. If he had to tell his constituents that if they had devolution, they would pay additional taxes I wonder how popular it would be.

I have covered quick points concerning boundaries and resources. I do not believe that there is an appetite for regionalism. I know that there is a legitimate English dimension.