Letter: Scotland for ever

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The Independent Culture
Sir: In the run-up to the Scottish Parliament elections next May, the UK Treasury is trying to demonstrate that Scotland receives a fiscal subsidy from England; the Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP) vehemently denies this.

The Treasury's latest document "Government Expenditure and Revenue in Scotland" suggests that against the background of more or less identical GDP per head in Scotland as compared to England, public spending in Scotland is some 1.6 higher than in England. The SNP disputes these public spending figures.

But what does the comparative position look like with regard to frontline public services, such as health and education? My firm's calculations, based on recent figures from the relevant government departments, suggest that Scotland may be enjoying significantly better public services than in England. For example, average class sizes in England are some 1/5 higher than in Scotland, whilst hospital waiting lists in England (proportionate to population) are around 50 per cent higher than in Scotland.

Protagonists for the Scottish Parliament elections may want to ponder the above figures. Meanwhile, Westminster Conservatives (who poured money into Scotland for 18 years to achieve well-funded public services) may wonder why they got so little electoral reward in Scotland in May 1997. The Government may care to note the warning.

M G FITZPATRICK

Head of Economics

Chantrey Vellacott DFK

London E14

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