Sir: I congratulate Anthony Bevins ("Tartan dividend pays off for Scots", 24 March) for taking the trouble to check the veracity of Michael Forsyth's statistics regarding the difference in identifiable public expenditure between the nations which make up the United Kingdom. Most political journalists from London-based newspapers appear to accept the Scottish Secretary of State's figures and to quote them verbatim.
Here in Scotland we tend to view Mr Forsyth's statistics with a great deal of scepticism. Comparing identifiable public expenditure between Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom is meaningless. Scotland and England, for example, are funded in quite different ways and local authorities in Scotland have more statutory responsibilities than their English counterparts. The Government is always careful to exclude unidentifiable public expenditure from its statistics, which invariably favours England. The statistics which Michael Forsyth and the Government use (and abuse) conceal as much as they reveal.
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