HC Deb 17 June 1997 vol 296 cc109-10
13. Mr. Fallon

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if the Barnett formula will continue to operate for the allocation of public expenditure in Scotland. [2341]

Mr. Dewar

The Barnett formula is well established, giving stability and certainty to Scottish Office expenditure plans. The White Paper on devolution will set out the position clearly and, as my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary to the Treasury made clear in the House on 11 June, the Government believe that the formula plays a very important part in the allocation of public expenditure.

Mr. Fallon

Will the Secretary of State confirm that if the new Scottish Parliament voted to lower taxes, it would, perversely, increase the proportion of expenditure in Scotland paid for by non-Scottish taxpayers? Does he really suggest that the Barnett formula can continue unamended?

Mr. Dewar

I do not accept the hon. Gentleman's argument. There will clearly be an extensive debate on the matter after publication of the White Paper. I welcome that, because I believe that the case is very strong. A good system will be in the White Paper and I hope that it will command support both north and south of the border.