Labour at­tack over GERS fig­ures

Rutherglen Reformer - - News - Dou­glas Dickie

Lo­cal MP Mar­garet Fer­rier has been urged to stop call­ing for a sec­ond in­de­pen­dence ref­er­en­dum af­ter the publi­ca­tion of the Govern­ment Ex­pen­di­ture and Rev­enue Scot­land (GERS) fig­ures.

Glas­gow Labour MSP James Kelly ref­er­enced the Ruther­glen and Hamil­ton West MP di­rectly when he said the fig­ures should “act as a re­al­ity check for those call­ing for another in­de­pen­dence ref­er­en­dum”.

The GERS fig­ures are pub­lished each year by the Scot­tish Govern­ment. This year’s fig­ures re­vealed Scot­land had a pub­lic spend­ing deficit of nearly £15bil­lion in 2015/16.

Pub­lic sec­tor spend­ing was 12,800 per per­son, £1200 greater than the UK av­er­age.

They also re­vealed off­shore oil rev­enues had dropped dra­mat­i­cally from £1.8bn to £60m, al­though this was off­set by a £1.9bn in­crease in on­shore rev­enues.

Mr Kelly, a for­mer MSP for Ruther­glen, said: “Good qual­ity pub­lic ser­vices that we all rely on need in­vest­ment.

“Whether it’s schools or lo­cal health ser­vices, the way to grow our econ­omy and im­prove our ser­vices is through more in­vest­ment rather than cuts.

“The SNP govern­ment’s fig­ures prove that be­ing part of the UK means there is more money avail­able to in­vest in ed­u­ca­tion and the health ser­vice than if we voted for in­de­pen­dence.

“The govern­ment in Ed­in­burgh should fo­cus its time get­ting peo­ple back into work and in­vest­ing in ed­u­ca­tion and the health ser­vice, rather than cam­paign­ing for another in­de­pen­dence ref­er­en­dum.”

But Ms Fer­rier in­sisted the GERS fig­ures did not tell the full story.

She said: “GERS rep­re­sents Scot­land’s fis­cal po­si­tion un­der cur­rent con­sti­tu­tional ar­range­ments.

“Scot­land’s fis­cal po­si­tion un­der in­de­pen­dence would de­pend on a wide range of fac­tors – in­clud­ing pub­lic pol­icy choices made by fu­ture Scot­tish Gov­ern­ments, eco­nomic growth, and Scot­land’s con­tri­bu­tion to UK- wide pub­lic ser­vices, such as de­fence, debt in­ter­est, and in­ter­na­tional aid. None of th­ese fac­tors are re­flected in GERS.

“The fact is that Scot­land is al­ready fac­ing cuts as a re­sult of the UK Govern­ment’s aus­ter­ity pro­gramme - some­thing Mr Kelly’s party have been will­ing ac­com­plices with in re­cent years at West­min­ster.

“In­stead of is­su­ing press re­leases like this, James Kelly should be is­su­ing an apol­ogy for the £1bn of PFI pay­ments listed in the GERS fig­ures – this is his party’s toxic le­gacy in ad­min­is­tra­tion.”

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