Scottish independence: MPs set to 'pour scorn' on SNP finance plans

Renationalising independent Scotland's Royal Mail will be tricky, and charging UK students will be illegal, says committee

An influential committee of MPs is set to "pour scorn" on two key financial claims made by the Scottish independence campaign this week. Plans by the ruling Scottish National Party (SNP) to renationalise the Royal Mail north of the border would be excessively expensive, a report by the House of Commons Business Select Committee will conclude. It is also expected to say charging students coming from the rest of the UK to study in Scotland would break European Union law.

The conclusions will help ignite the independence debate which will also witness the first live debate on STV between Scotland's First Minister, Alex Salmond, and Alistair Darling, the former Labour chancellor, who heads the "Better Together" campaign. With just 44 days to go before next month's vote, it is expected that Mr Salmond will attempt to woo voters and make up the 14 per cent gap in the opinion polls which suggest the pro-Union Better Together movement should comfortably win.

The select committee's full report examining the business implications of Scottish independence is expected to be published later this week. It is understood it will reject the SNP's argument that it could continue to charge English, Welsh and Northern Irish students attending Scotland's universities. The charges will bring the Scottish administration an additional £62m a year in 2014-15.

However, as a separate EU state, Scotland could no longer only charge the rest-of-the-UK students tuition fees of up to £9,000 a year while those from Scotland and elsewhere in the EU pay nothing, according to legal experts. Under EU rules, there can be different charging regimes only for students within the same state. "That's not a sustainable income stream up north," said a source close to the committee.

Mr Salmond has also pledged to renationalise the Scottish part of the Royal Mail after the coalition privatised the five-century-old service last year. In June, the select committee accused the Government and its advisers of undervaluing the Royal Mail by about £1bn when shares were first sold on the London Stock Exchange in October.

The MPs will conclude this means it will be much costlier for Scotland to buy back its share of Royal Mail. Scotland is also a particularly expensive area to run the universal service, as postal workers are delivering mail to remote locations.

"The distribution and mail centre costs are high because of the distance," said a member of the committee. "How you could renationalise the Royal Mail without higher subsidies or prices has not been explained. I think there are a lot of difficult questions for the SNP."

Several of the MPs on the committee, which is chaired by Labour MP Adrian Bailey, are also "extremely irritated" that Scotland Finance Secretary John Swinney did not give evidence. He was due to attend, but diary clashes initially delayed his hearing and Mr Swinney is said to have eventually decided against appearing before the parliamentary committee.

A spokesman for Mr Swinney said: "The fact a Westminster committee of anti-independence MPs has chosen to attack such policies speaks volumes. It is the Scottish Government's commitment to vital public services – and the parallel threat to such services from Westminster's privatisation agenda, including to the NHS – that is seeing more and more people deciding to vote Yes to an independent Scotland."

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
News
news
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
New Articles
i100... with this review
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Voices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
Sport
footballTim Sherwood: This might be th match to wake up Manchester City
Arts and Entertainment
musicHow female vocalists are now writing their own hits
New Articles
i100
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
News
Blahnik says: 'I think I understand the English more than they do themselves'
people
Arts and Entertainment
Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley in Downton Abbey
TVInside Downton Abbey series 5
Life and Style
The term 'normcore' was given the oxygen of publicity by New York magazine during the autumn/winter shows in Paris in February
fashionWhen is a trend a non-trend? When it's Normcore, since you ask
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Research Manager - Quantitative/Qualitative

£32000 - £42000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam