Posted 19th September 2014 | 6 Comments

Rail minister warns against more Scottish devolution

RAIL minister Claire Perry has spoken out against more devolution of powers to Scotland. Reform is now set to follow the referendum vote in which 55.3 per cent chose to keep Scotland in the United Kingdom.

Glasgow was one of the three voting districts out of a total of 32 which produced a majority in favour of independence. Voters in Edinburgh and Aberdeen were firmly in favour of keeping the union.

But Ms Perry, who is responsible for most aspects of the rail industry at the Department for Transport in London, has voiced her doubts about further devolution..

Writing in the Wiltshire Gazette and Herald, she said: "There will be a whole raft of goodies on offer for Scotland that will be paid for by us south of the border to try and appease the ‘Yes’ voters. 

"The funding formula for Scotland, the rather cobbled together Barnett formula, already delivers per capita funding north of the border well in excess of that spent per head in the other parts of the union, and if there is a proposal to allow devolution of local taxation, as well maintaining the current level of funding as a dollop from the UK parliament, then that can hardly be equitable for those of us  in the Devizes constituency and all other areas in the non-Scottish union."

She predicted that the Westminster Parliament will be recalled next week, concluding: "Cool, calm analysis, not promises of financial party bags to appease Mr Salmond, are what is needed."

Her stance seems set to bring her into conflict with the Prime Minister, because after the result of the vote had became a conclusive 'no' early today, Mr Cameron referred to the pledges of further devolution, saying: "To those in Scotland sceptical of the constitutional promises that were made, let me say this – we have delivered on devolution under this government and we will do so again in the next parliament.

“The three pro-Union parties have made commitments, clear commitments on further powers for the Scottish Parliament. We will ensure that those commitments are honoured in full."

Ms Perry's responsibilities at the Department for Transport include most aspects of the rail industry, including franchising. She was appointed in the summer cabinet reshuffle.

Reader Comments:

Views expressed in submitted comments are that of the author, and not necessarily shared by Railnews.

  • John Gilbert, Cradley, Herefordshire

    Mrs Perry has clearly never heard of the idea of keeping one's promises. Is she, then, a true parliamentarian?

  • Roshan, Leeds

    I expect people in Scotland to ask for HS2 to go up to Scotland now. I actually don't think that would be a bad idea. You could have it running via Newcastle and alongside the ECML (and the WCML if two branches extending to Scotland are to be constructed).

  • Melvyn Windebank, Canvey Island, Essex

    I suggest Claire Perry check up Wikipedia for the history of this formula which began in the late 70s and was continued in force by both Thatcher and Major conservative governments followed by Blair and Brown and now Cameron.

    Please see history below -
    The Barnett formula is a mechanism used by The Treasury in the United Kingdom to adjust the amounts of public expenditure allocated to Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales automatically to reflect changes in spending levels allocated to public services in England, England and Wales or Great Britain, as appropriate.

    The formula is named after Joel Barnett, who devised it in the late 1970s, while Chief Secretary to the Treasury as a short-term solution to minor Cabinet disputes in the runup to planned political devolution in 1979. Despite the failure of that initiative, the formula was retained to facilitate additional administrative devolution in the Conservative Governments of 1979 to 1997 under Prime Ministers Margaret Thatcher and John Major, and then in the context of the political devolution of the Labour Governments led by Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, and the coalition Government of David Cameron. The Government still declares its intention to continue to use it as the basis for funding the three devolved governments.

    The Barnett formula is said to have "no legal standing or democratic justification",[1] and, being merely a convention, could be changed by the Treasury at will. In recent years, Barnett has called for a review of its long-term viability.[2]

  • David Copping, POLEGATE

    "To those in Scotland sceptical of the constitutional promises that were made, let me say this we have delivered on devolution under this government and we will do so again in the next parliament."

    That's assuming Cameron and Co manage to get themselves elected again. Is this another electoral bribe? The other bribe is the faint promise of a referendum on UK's membership of the EU.

  • Lewis Downie, Erskine

    Too late Mrs.

    We were told we were getting them if we vote no, and we have just voted NO!

    The extra powers must be worth less to the UK than what it would lose out on if Scotland became independent.

  • Tony Pearce, Reading

    The really deprived economic parts of the UK are Devon and Cornwall, and around the Wash and Mid-Wales. Improving their infrastructure like Railways would create jobs, improve accessibility and put money into their local economies.