HC Deb 25 May 1994 vol 244 cc323-5
7. Mrs. Gorman

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what is the per capita Government spending in Scotland.

Mr. Lang

Identifiable general Government expenditure per head in Scotland in 1992–93 was £3,968.

Mrs. Gorman

I thank my right hon. Friend for his reply. Will he confirm that, for every pound of taxation collected in Scotland, the Scottish people receive £1.40 back? Does he agree that the Opposition are being less than honest with the people in Scotland in pretending that a devolved parliament would mean that they would not have to pay more taxes, because, indeed, they would? Does my right hon. Friend have any idea of the cost of a devolved parliament, or of the even wilder scheme, which I believe that the Liberal Democrats are proposing, to reintroduce the groat?

Mr. Lang

I cannot confirm the exact accuracy of my hon. Friend's figure, but the point that she makes about a separate Scottish parliament is absolutely right. Indeed, it is significant that, while we on this side of the House are reforming local government to introduce one tier, to diminish bureaucracy, to reduce duplication and to decentralise and strengthen local government, the Labour party is bent on creating another layer of bureaucracy through a Scottish parliament, which would centralise powers from local government in Scotland and massively add to the burden on the Scottish people.

Mr. Wray

Does the Secretary of State agree that Scotland is well paid for? At the 1993 Budget, the assessment of revenues from Scotland was £77 billion from gas and oil? If one uses the gross domestic product deflator on prices, that would be equivalent to £128 billion in 1994.

Does the Secretary of State also agree that there are about 2,100 million tonnes of oil in reserve which could last for another 21 years?

Mr. Lang

The hon. Gentleman is obviously an expert on the deflator; the Scottish National party would be proud of him. Revenue raised in Scotland is substantially less than public expenditure in Scotland. A separate Scotland would have a substantial public sector deficit. Scotland does well out of the existing arrangements and is increasingly prospering as a result.

Mr. Biffen

Is my right hon. Friend aware that whatever the sums paid by the English to the Scots, they must be put in the context of the long-standing and intimate historical association between the two peoples? That factor does not arise in respect of what the English or the British have to pay to the Greeks, the Portuguese or the Spaniards in the context of the European Union.

Mr. Lang

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for his strong support of the Union, to which all Conservative Members subscribe. I am also grateful to him for his robust approach to the future of the United Kingdom in the European Union, to which most of us subscribe as well.

Mr. McLeish

I, too, am grateful for Conservative Members' support of Scots in the House. After yesterday's pathetic Government statements on competitiveness and employment, will the right hon. Gentleman acknowledge that there is great benefit to be gained from public investment in skills training, which will improve our competitiveness? Why, then, on the Government's own figures, do only 30 per cent. of the Scottish work force receive any form of job-related training? Is that not a scandal in the latter part of the 20th century? Does the Secretary of State want us to fall further behind in Britain in terms of job-related training? Is he content to see us as the poor man of Europe in terms of skills and the future of the economy? We have had enough of his complacency and I sincerely hope that he will now get to grips with the real problems facing the Scottish economy.

Mr. Lang

That is one of the most brazen questions that I have heard for a long time. The Government are spending substantially more than the Labour Government ever spent on training. As a result, the success level for qualifications in Scotland is substantially higher than it has ever been before and higher than it is south of the border. Scotland has enjoyed productivity gains of more than 5 per cent. per annum for most of the past decade. That is a higher rate of improved competitiveness than in any of the other the G7 countries and a measure of our commitment to training, improved efficiency and competitiveness in Scotland.

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