Gordon Brown has bowed to SNP pressure by giving the clearest indication yet that Labour will leave the 2010/10 Scottish block grant untouched.
Mr Brown was speaking on The Politics Show Scotland and was responding to questions from show host Glenn Campbell who had asked the PM to respond to demands from Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond that Scottish funding for 2010/11 be off limits as far as cuts were concerned whichever party won the UK general election.
Mr Brown said:
“Well we’ve made allocations for 2010/11, but that is on the basis of the Scottish government accepting what we have said to them, it’s then up to them to administer the budget in the way that they choose that’s what devolution is about.
“The spending settlement for 2010/11 is what we have suggested to the Scottish executive [sic].”
When pressed whether Labour would cut the grant after the election the PM replied:
“We don’t expect in 2010/11 to make more changes.”
In the interview Gordon Brown also appeared to confirm that there will indeed be some cuts next year but that they will be less than those proposed by the Tories who he claimed were proposing to cut “too much too quickly”.
Mr Brown said:
“He [Alistair Darling] said we had to get the balance right between tax rises and growth and cuts and reduction to the public expenditure”
The statement by Gordon Brown on the Scottish budget for 2010/11 will come as an embarrassment to Secretary of State Jim Murphy who only days ago had attacked ideas that Scotland could be protected from cuts next year if other Whitehall departments were facing them, Mr Murphy had suggested that such proposals were “bizarre and confused”.
The concessions from Labour follow those from the Conservatives last week and will be seen as a victory for Alex Salmond and vindication for SNP claims that more nats at Westminster will mean less Scottish cuts.