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Last Updated: Monday, 11 December 2006, 18:02 GMT
Row over Scottish public spending
The SNP says North Sea revenues should be taken into account
Scotland spent 11bn more than it raised last year, according to new figures.

However, the Scottish National Party has claimed that when North Sea revenues were taken into account the country had a 2.8bn surplus.

All government revenue in Scotland came to 36.4bn but total spending was 47.7bn.

The figures came in the annual review of government expenditure and revenue in Scotland (GERS).

The SNP has published its own figures which say that once North Sea revenues are taken into account, Scotland actually has a surplus of 560 per head.

The Nationalist war cry - 'It's Scotland's Oil' - is a simplistic con trick from a party without a serious offer for Scotland
Tom McCabe
Finance Minister

The party's treasury spokesman Stuart Hosie said: "While Labour's unreliable arguments are based on data which is now two years old, our paper has been comprehensively updated since the pre-Budget report last week.

"The discredited GERS exercise tells us nothing about Scotland's economic position either now, or under independence."

But Finance Minister Tom McCabe said the SNP were stuck in the past.

Mr McCabe said: "Their ideology is as outdated as their maths.

"Because they still cannot make their sums add up they have chosen to attack the methodology of the report in a futile attempt to discredit it.

"The Nationalist war cry - 'It's Scotland's Oil' - is a simplistic con trick from a party without a serious offer for Scotland."

'Damning indictment'

After "accounting adjustments" in the official figures, spending per head of population worked out at 7,597 per Scot, or 1,034 more than the UK average.

The figures showed that since 1980, government expenditure in Scotland had averaged 10.2% of UK spending.

But revenues raised in Scotland had averaged 9.1% of the UK total.

Tom McCabe
Tom McCabe said the SNP's ideology was "outdated"

However, in recent years Scotland's spending advantage has narrowed as spending elsewhere in the UK, particularly in England, has grown faster than in Scotland.

The Scottish Conservatives said the polarised debate between Labour and the SNP should not obscure the "real story" - that taxes and spending in Scotland had soared since 1997 but to little effect.

"For all the headlines about the gap between taxes and spending, the real gap is between what is being spent and what we get for it," the party's finance spokesman Derek Brownlee said.

"GERS is a damning indictment of this government's failure to get value for money on public spending and its readiness to tax."

The Scottish Liberal Democrats also criticised the SNP.

Finance spokesman Andrew Arbuckle said: "These latest figures show that even if the Nationalists took all North Sea oil revenues for Scotland we would all still face a tax increase of at least 21p in every pound to pay for Salmond's separate state.

"The SNP would be well advised to spend more time checking their own policies add up before attacking objective government statistics."

Watch further details

Lib Dems back Scots cash review
25 Jun 06 |  Scotland
SNP bid to 'win back' oil and gas
21 Mar 06 |  Scotland
Row erupts over spending formula
07 Apr 05 |  Scotland

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