Curran's 4G Blunder Exposes Basic Failings in Labour Party

>> 18 November 2012

Labour have been exposed for their ignorance of the way the Barnett formula works after calling for the Scottish Government to spend money it doesn’t get.

This week Margaret Curran used a speech to the STUC women’s conference to launch an attack on the way in which receipts from the 4G auction will be spent in Scotland and demanded that the Scottish Government to make clear how it will spend its ‘windfall’.

Yet as a recent answer to a Parliamentary Question lodged by her Labour colleague David Hamilton MP made clear, the Barnett formula does not apply to Government receipts such as the 4G auction so the Scottish Government will not automatically see any increased spending.

Commenting, SNP MSP Maureen Watt said:

“Not for the first time, Margaret Curran failed to let the facts get in the way of her rush to attack the SNP and was left looking foolish as a result.

“The fact of the matter is that Scotland will not automatically receive a share of the coming 4G auction, so the very basis of her attack was absolute nonsense. As Shadow Scottish Secretary, you would have hoped Margaret Curran would actually know how the Barnett formula works!

“In fact Margaret Curran actually revealed one of the independence dividends she is so keen to conceal. If Scotland was currently independent, the Scottish Government would of course receive the money raised from auctioning 4G rights in Scotland.

“The Labour party’s enthusiasm to attack does them absolutely no credit.

“Their consistent failure to accept the genuine limitations of the current system only undermines the standard of debate in Scotland and falls far short of the standards people in Scotland expect from their elected representatives."

The Parliamentary Answer:

Mr David Hamilton: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he has assessed what effect the revenue generated from the forthcoming auction of the 4G mobile telephone spectrum will have on the block grant for Scotland. [128040]

Danny Alexander: The Barnett formula does not apply to Government receipts. However, where there are any changes to spending plans, the Barnett formula will be applied in the normal way.

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