BARNETT FORMULA

11 January 2007

Taxpayers in England (including Cornwall) in effect subsidise public spending in Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales through the Barnett Formula. Annual per head public spending in GBP (£) in 2005-2006 was:

N Ireland 9088
Scotland 8265
Wales 7666
England 6762– this includes Cornwall.

Issues like health and education have been devolved to the Scottish parliament – it decides them for Scotland. One of the consequences is that MPs from Scotland can, and mostly do, vote in the British parliament on issues such as health and education which affect only people in England and which do not affect their constituents in Scotland. MPs from England cannot vote on issues which have been devolved to the Scottish parliament.

This strikes many people as unfair and they want to see English votes for English matters – well, only MPs from England voting on England-only matters. Of course a party might have a majority in the British parliament and be the government but not have a majority among English MPs. Tricky.

The present financial and constitutional arrangements are unfair to people in England (including Cornwall) and should be changed. Labour, with a majority among Scotland MPs and keen to put party advantage before fairness, will change nothing.

A start could be made among Liberal Democrats and others: their MPs from Scotland could immediately voluntarily stop voting on England-only matters. And challenge the Barnett Formula.

Also see here a later post on the Barnett formula.

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