'We very much welcome the statement Lord Joel Barnett, Chief Secretary to the Treasury under Harold Wilson, has issued this weekend about the Formula named after him,' Mrs Scilla Cullen Chairman of the Campaign for an English Parliament. 'It should have been made years ago but better late than never, even though vested interests will fight any reform every inch of the way. He is very critical of the Formula and the way it has worked out over the last 30 years. As he has said, although the Formula was not intended to give the Scottish population the immense financial advantage they have over the people of England, who are actually paying for it with extra taxation, that is how it has worked out.'
Lord Barnett has made a very emphatic criticism of the Formula. It enables each Scot, man, woman and child, to have £1600 more spent on them than every man, woman and child in England. But it is the English taxpayer who pays for it. As he has said, it was not based on need but on nationality. 'A fairer system', he has now said, 'would be based on need taking account of factors such as level of income in each part of the UK.' Parts of Scotland are richer than parts of England but all the Scots get the extra expenditure nonetheless.
Lord Barnett did not mince his words. 'Successive governments have failed to deal with the issue for fear of upsetting the Scots. When David Cameron made his first trip to Scotland as Tory leader he assured the Scots that he would keep the formula. 'That strikes me as absolutely stupid because Margaret Thatcher and John Major kept it going for 18 years and turned it into a formal formula only to lose every single seat that they had held in Scotland.'
'We can rightly supplement the criticism he makes of the Conservatives', says Mrs Cullen. 'All Labour governments since Wilson have needed Scottish MPs to give them a majority. Callaghan and Blair saw it to be in their interests to plunder the tax revenues taken from England to give to Scotland, which is precisely the attitude of Gordon Brown today.
'The CEP welcomes the fact that Joel Barnett has managed to get a Lords' committee to review the Formula. We recognise that its composition is weighted in Scotland's favour and we know that the present government under Brown will not implement any changes in the direction of justice towards England which might reduce Treasury excess in respect of Scotland. Brown is not going to do anything to harm his own prospects in Scotland or in Westminster, especially if it could be to the advantage of the SNP. But the Review is a start. And we welcome that.'
Mrs Scilla Cullen, Chairman CEP. Tel: 01438 833155 Email: email@example.com
Michael Knowles. Media Unit CEP. Tel: 01260 271139 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org