Joan McAlpine MSP has demanded assurances from her Labour and Conservative colleagues that they and their parties will stick to promises made on Scottish funding during the referendum campaign.
Ms McAlpine today wrote to MSP for Dumfriesshire Elaine Murray, and Conservative David Mundell MP, seeking confirmation that they will support the continuation of the Barnett formula – which their parties promised to protect in the event of a No vote.
Just days before the referendum the Prime Minister and the other Westminster leaders made what was described as a ‘vow’ to the people of Scotland on more powers – and that pledge included a commitment to maintain Scotland’s funding.
However, the failure to include any reference to the Barnett formula in a parliamentary motion laid down in Westminster today has sparked concern.
Ms McAlpine said:
“During the many debates that I participated in with Mr Mundell and Ms Murray during the referendum campaign at schools and community councils across Dumfries and Galloway, I raised my concerns that Westminster MPs would cut Scotland’s funding in the event of a No vote.
“These concerns were based on statements by Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat MPs insisting that the Barnett formula on which Scotland’s funding is based should be abandoned and replaced by a “needs-based” system – an action which would result in Scotland’s annual budget being slashed by £4 billion a year.
When I raised this concern during our debates, both Ms Murray and Mr Mundell were absolutely unequivocal in their assertions that the Barnett formula was safe and there was no plan to cut Scotland’s money.
“We have now learned that a parliamentary motion at Westminster on further devolution to Scotland does not repeat the guarantee to Scotland’s budget mentioned in the “vow” issued by the Westminster leaders prior to the referendum.
“A central part of the Better Together campaign was the argument that Scotland was financially better off in the union because Barnett meant higher public spending and any change to Barnett would be a complete betrayal of the people of Dumfries and Galloway who voted No in the belief they were financially better off in the union.
“I have therefore written to Mr Mundell and Ms Murray asking them each to confirm that they will stick to the promises they made on Scottish funding to the people of Dumfries and Galloway during the referendum campaign”.
1. Parliamentary motion: “That this House welcomes the result of the Scottish independence referendum and the decision of the people of Scotland to remain part of the United Kingdom; recognises that people across Scotland voted for a Union based on the pooling and sharing of resources and for the continuation of devolution inside the United Kingdom; notes the statement by the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition regarding the guarantee of and timetable for further devolution to Scotland; calls on the Government to lay before Parliament a Command Paper including the proposals of all three UK political parties by 30th October and to consult widely with the Scottish people, civic Scotland and the Scottish Parliament on these proposals; further calls on the Government to publish heads of agreement by the end of November and draft clauses for the new Scotland Bill by the end of January 2015.”
2.Extract from the vow on Barnett:
“And because of the continuation of the Barnett allocation for resources, and the powers of the Scottish Parliament to raise revenue, we can state categorically that the final say on how much is spent on the NHS will be a matter for the Scottish Parliament.”