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Jim Wallace\’s House of Lords speech

Extract from Jim Wallace\’s speech in the House of Lords debate on the Queen\’s Speech, 9/12/08

\”Crucially, we must also look at the future of finance. I think that tomorrow the House Committee is due to propose a committee to look at the Barnett formula. That will be very important provided that we all work together and that account is taken of what the Calman commission and the Welsh Assembly Government Commission on Funding and Finance are saying. The point about the Barnett formula is that it has not produced an extra penny for Scotland compared with what the position would have been if there had been no devolution. The formula continues. It establishes not the amount but the annual change in the base, the base having been established in the late 1970s. Although it has the advantage of being predictable, it does not have the advantage of accountability.

\”In delivering the 2003 Donald Dewar lecture, my noble friend Lord Steel of Aikwood said that,? “no self-respecting parliament should expect to exist permanently on 100 per cent handouts determined by another parliament, nor should it be responsible for massive public expenditure without any responsibility for raising revenue in a manner accountable to its electorate”.

\”I believe that that is the challenge that we now face on the question of how to make funding the Scottish Parliament’s expenditure more accountable and more transparent. We want to look at the balance between a direct grant, assigning tax revenues and tax devolution itself. In a recent submission on fiscal powers to the commission, Reform Scotland recommended that each tier of government should be responsible for raising the bulk of the funding for its spending. We must look at that as we move forward because the status quo is not an option. We have been asked to improve the accountability of the Scottish Parliament and so we must look at the range of options available to make those who take the decisions on spending much more accountable to the voters.\”

Click here to read the full speech.