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By a Newsnet reporter

SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has written to Prime Minister David Cameron demanding that he release the Barnett consequentials from the £4.1bn spent upgrading the London sewerage network, in order that vital infrastructure projects in Scotland can be funded, including a dangerous stretch of road in her constituency.

Last week Newsnet Scotland revealed that £4.1bn of UK Government reserves are to be used to fund the new sewerage system in London, as well as to cut water bills in the South West of England by an average of £50 per customer.

Had these projects been funded by DEFRA in the normal way, Scotland – as well as the other devolved administrations in the UK – would have been entitled to Barnett Consequentials. In Scotland’s case this would have amounted to some £400m.

However because the project is being funded out of the UK Government’s reserves, Westminster rules that there is no Barnett Consequential, and therefore Scotland and the other devolved administrations need not be compensated.  The reserves are normally used to fund projects deemed to be of UK “national importance”.  

According to Treasury Funding policy, access to the reserve will be considered by Treasury Ministers “in exceptional circumstances, on a case-by-case basis and specifically where a UK department is granted access to the reserve to enable it to meet exceptional pressures on a spending programme.  There is no automatic application of the Barnett Formula to reserve claims by departments of the UK Government.”

Justifying the expenditure in the House of Lords, Conservative peer John Taylor, DEFRA minister, claimed that the circumstances were “exceptional” because people in the South West of England had paid the highest bills in the UK as the investment costs of the privatised water companies have ultimately been passed to consumers.  

The effect of the move is that Scottish taxpayers, who contribute just under 10% of the funding for the UK Government’s reserves, are paying approximately 10% of the cost of the upgrade of the London sewerage system at a time when many important Scottish infrastructure projects have to be shelved due to a lack of funds.  It also means that Scots have to pay the costs of the privatisation of the water companies in England, despite Scottish water remaining in public hands.

The news came following the UK Government’s snub of a Scottish Government request for £300m capital funding – submitted at the Prime Minister’s invitation – to start a list of 36 shovel-ready projects across Scotland.  One of those projects was the upgrade of the dangerous Hardgrove-Kinmount stretch of the A75 in Ms McAlpine’s South Scotland region.  

Had Westminster followed the usual methods of funding the London sewerage upgrade, money would have been coming to Scotland which could fund these projects.  However by circumventing the Barnett Formula through using funding from the reserves, Scots projects receive no funding while Scottish taxpayers foot the bill for London infrastructure.

Commenting Ms McAlpine said:

“The UK Government has raided the UK national reserves to the tune of £4.1bn to upgrade the London sewerage works and offer cheaper water bills to the South West of England.  Scotland and the other devolved nations are entitled to Barnett consequentials from this money.

“This money is desperately needed in my own constituency where a dangerous stretch of the A75 is in need of upgrading for safety reasons.  The Coalition ignored this request in the Budget, but just days later we find out that there should be money coming to Scotland to fund these projects.

“It is just one of many vital projects across Scotland that are ready to go straight away – but only if David Cameron’s Government hands over the Barnett consequentials that are rightfully Scotland’s.”


Robert Louis
2012-04-08 07:25

So here’s a good question for Scottish unionists. ‘Do you know that Scottish taxpayers are paying to upgrade London sewers?’

Any Scot who cannot now appreciate that Scotland would be better off independent, needs to give it some thought.
2012-04-08 09:18

Westminster are, quite literally, taking the piss.

2012-04-08 07:31

Indeed RL. This added to the lengthy list Alex Salmond took to London after the win last May and chart the level of success all I think that was achieved was 50% back on the Fossil Fuel Levy.
That at 105 Million is just small beer when viewed objectively.
This latest snub is just that, a snub. A change of tack is desperatly required and the bull grabbed by the horns ?.
J Wil
2012-04-08 07:44

Another demontration that, when the urge takes them, Westminster writes the rules and can then ignore them to suit their own agenda and to the detriment of other parts of the UK.

Shouldn’t Lamont be lamenting this too, if she wants to show that she has Scotland’s interests at heart?

We can all define exceptional circumstances for the allocation of central funding, but we do not have the power to do anything about it.

Westminster likes to ensure that Scotland has to go cap in hand to them to receive what is rightfully theirs.
2012-04-08 09:39

Britannia waives the rules, yet again.
2012-04-08 09:45

So we’re actually paying the free-wheeling shareholders for taking over water companies into private hands in the South West of England? Is that a YES?

“Justifying the expenditure in the House of Lords, Conservative peer John Taylor, DEFRA minister, claimed that the circumstances were “exceptional” because people in the South West of England had paid the highest bills in the UK as the investment costs of the privatised water companies have ultimately been passed to consumers.”

What’s it all about Alfie? Or, should that be Perfidious?
2012-04-08 11:46

Utterly shocking. Of course if the subsidy was the other way round we’d never hear the end of it. This is genuinely scandalous and deserves much wider coverage than it has been getting. I feel an afternoon of letter writing coming on.
2012-04-08 15:19

Jenny – I feel you are wasting your time writing about this to London.

I am also feeling that the time is coming when some sort of legal action is taken by a Scot against HM Government.
2012-04-08 15:29

Barontorc -I don’t actually expect it to change anything. However I am curious as to how my local MP Anas Sarwar will attempt to justify Scotland subsiding London in this way given that Labour are trying to sell the union on the basis that it redistributes wealth from the south to the north (haha).
2012-04-08 17:13

Quoting Barontorc:

I am also feeling that the time is coming when some sort of legal action is taken by a Scot against HM Government.

No point, really. Independence is coming in 4 years and legal action would probably take longer than that. Best to take what’s ours and leave without looking back.


J Wil
2012-04-08 13:34

Not entirley O/T:

A big article in the Sunday Times about the SNP claiming Scotland’s share of UK assets on achieving independence. The Scottish Labour Party rubbishing it, naturally, but not saying what their take would be.

Would they just abandon everything to those south of the border? It appears, in the absence of a cogent argument from them, that they might just be minded to do that.
2012-04-08 13:36

Jenny 2603. Sincerely hope you have more success with your letter writing than does Joan McAlpine.
Since Cameron has little or no respect for Alex Salmond and the Scots Parliament he is very unlikely to even reply to Joan. Probably delegate a platitudinous reply to a minion ?.
2012-04-08 15:42

I very much doubt I’ll meet with any success it all. It’s as much for my own amusement as anything else. However the response I’m most interested in is that of my local Labour MP. After all Labours case for the union, such as it is, is that it is a redistributive union transferring wealth south to north. This latest development seems to rather fly in the face of that, so I’m curios as to why we haven’t heard a peep from Labour about this.
2012-04-08 18:35

Go for it Jenny!! You are correct in asking your MP what they know and what they are doing about it.

2012-04-08 14:03

Funded out of UK reserves,

So where exactly did the “UK reserves” funds ome from?

Is it not the Scottish taxpayer?
Adrian B
2012-04-08 16:11

In part yes, the Scottish tax payers pay their share as do those in England, Northern Ireland and Wales.

The story here is the fact that the water companies in London are privatised ( making huge profits too ) but not reinvesting in upgrading infrastructure fast enough.

UK reserves are there for emergency use – money put aside for a rainy day if you like.

This money is not for bailing out infrastructure investment projects that profitable private companies have the responsibility to undertake.

If the Westminster Government wants to use some of this money, then why can’t other parts of the Union do the same?

2012-04-08 17:34

This should be reported on the BBC news website, but as we all know anything that makes the unionists look bad is either not reported or is buried away somewhere in the hope that it will not be read.
Mark MacLachlan
2012-04-08 20:09

Ahem, does anyone know the whereabouts of the photograph of Michael Fish and the BBC weather map with the actual real size Scotland over-lapping it?

Robert Louis
2012-04-09 14:03

I know the picture you mean, sorry don’t know.

However, the following site has a complete graphical video history of BBC weather;…/…

The stooshie about the squished map of Scotland, alongwith the utterly ridiculous and feeble response from the BBC is in the following two links;…/4556025.stm…/4554999.stm

Oh, and the Torygraph’s strange perspective on the matter;…/…

I know of no other broadcaster anywhere in the world, that actually distorts their country map, in order to broadcast weather reports. Sadly nowadays, many Scots think the BBC weather map is correct!!!!

Marga B
2012-04-08 23:11

Were there Barnet consequentials for Olympic expenditure? There is at least one new school and one new hospital amongst the other “legacy” projects.
2012-04-09 07:44

Well if it’s a national emergency for water is it a national emergency for fuel prices in the Higlands and Islands?
John Souter
2012-04-09 07:49

The real question is why is Westminster subsidising privately owned corporations?

Was it not the purpose of privatisation to provide efficiencies and stop these drains [sic] on the public purse.

Why pay a dog to bark then have to bark yourself?
2012-04-09 10:35

JS – I’ll ask again, why does this DEFRA Tory Minister have the right to take billions from the “rainy day fund” to make good a water system in the South of England that had already been sold to private investors to provide that very source of funds? It’s bonkers!

He’s accredited with this bunkum; “Justifying the expenditure in the House of Lords, Conservative peer John Taylor, DEFRA minister, claimed that the circumstances were “exceptional” because people in the South West of England had paid the highest bills in the UK as the investment costs of the privatised water companies have ultimately been passed to consumers.

So ultimately, we Scots have paid money to Westminster, that was ring-fenced for problems of a UK nature, for it then to be used to do what private companies are failing to do and who are making their consumers pay through the nose for services that were previously covered by the public purse.

You really could not make this up – Monty Python would be hard pushed to come up with a more bizarre arrangement!

2012-04-09 13:33

Another fine example of wastemonster’s Corrievreckonom  ics!
They really are, quite literally taking the P155!
John Souter
2012-04-09 20:09

Here’s something else to consider.

John Taylor of DEFRA claims the people of South East England pay the highest water charges?

Well I have just linked to Thames Water and down loaded their charging rates and compared those with mine which come under United Utilities.

And what do I find – only that the rates I’m charged by United Utilities are from 30 to 50% higher than those charged by Thames.

Seems to me Mr Taylor has either been badly misinformed or he’s been economical with the truth.
2012-04-10 13:31

Surely, this has to be taken up in Wastemonster by the SNP. It beggars belief that a Minister would wilfully lie to the HoC, unless you’re paying up to 50% more for living somewhere a tad remote, like Rockall John!
2012-04-10 19:37

I hope that there are dedicated people in SG assembling the amount of money that Scotland is and has been short changed for as long as we can go back in time. In order to establish how much we have been fiddled out of.
All must be able to be proven in law, so when assets get discussed, we can legally prove the amounts outstanding to us.Should be a pretty large sum when covering all monetary liabilities do to us that the UK thinks nothing of withholding.

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