Thursday, 17 November 2011

Portillo Graciously Offers Scots Some of their Oil

According to the former Conservative Cabinet Minister, Michael Portillo, Scotland should get full fiscal autonomy with the authority to raise its own taxes and set the rate of corporation tax and income tax. He also proposes an end to the non-existent UK subsidy for Scotland and a resolution to the West Lothian Question.

There will be no argument here against removing the Barnett Formula, although those who think that this will increase and release any monies for the rest of the UK are in for a disappointment.

For if Portillo is really arguing for fiscal autonomy then the excise duty on fuel and alcohol will remain north of the border. This is particularly pertinent as figures recently released by the Tax Payers Alliance show that of the £2.5 billion collected by the UK Government in Scotland for 2009, only £1.1 billion was spent on transport infrastructure and tackling emissions. A further loss would be the £1.75 billion collected from whiskey.

The West Lothian Question is something that should have been addressed at the time of Devolution. It is a ridiculous and undemocratic situation that allows Scottish MPs to vote on purely English matters.

But the unique selling point of Portillo’s proposal is that the Scots should get an appropriate share of oil and gas revenues.

How very generous of you Michael. But, how absurd.

One supposes that the reasoning behind Mr Portillo’s argument is that oil and gas are shared resources and that some division, along the lines of population no doubt, is a fair and equitable arrangement.

But why stop at oil and gas? Every other resource must then be considered shared. That includes all the resources of England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Or is it just those resources that obviously Scottish?

Another example, many may think, of an out of touch Tory.