The Scottish government’s long campaign over the Fossil Fuel Levy funds and Barnet Consequentials looks set to pay dividends after the Joint Ministerial Council (JMC) held in Downing Street resulted in some positive movement from the new Westminster alliance….
The Scottish government’s long campaign over the Fossil Fuel Levy funds and Barnet Consequentials looks set to pay dividends after the Joint Ministerial Council (JMC) held in Downing Street resulted in some positive movement from the new Westminster alliance.
The £180 million from the Fossil Fuel Levy fund now looks certain to be freed from the London bank account in which it had lain frozen. Repeated requests to the last Labour government for the funds to be added to the Scottish block grant had been met with refusal.
The argument that Olympic funding consequentials should be passed on to each of the devolved administrations will now go to the newly created Dispute Resolution procedure. The Governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland say that they should be receiving Barnett consequentials from UK Government regeneration associated with the London Olympics.
Further evidence of the new mature relationship between London and Edinburgh came with the announcement that Scottish Government Ministers have been assured of a role in EU Council meeting negotiations.
SNP Leader and First Minister Alex Salmond said:
“I welcome the continued commitment of the UK Government to take forward the ‘respect agenda’, and the Prime Minister, who chaired today’s meeting, agrees that the JMC plays a central role in ensuring delivery of tangible and positive actions from inter-governmental relations, not just words and rhetoric.
“One of the key developments from today’s meetings is that Ministers from the Scottish Government and the other devolved administrations will be able to attend and speak at European council meetings and, where appropriate, represent the UK at these meetings.
“In the past there were unacceptable examples of Scottish ministers being prevented from attending these meetings, such as last month’s fisheries summit in Vigo. This new approach will help ensure the Scottish Government is represented at Ministerial and official level at key European meetings.
“I look forward to the respect dividend bringing benefits of EU meetings across subjects such as fisheries, agriculture, justice, energy, culture and the great many other areas where Scotland has real expertise and valuable contributions to make.
“On the Fossil Fuel Levy, I would be very disappointed indeed if the £182 million fund is not delivered over the next few weeks or months. But today’s meeting offered further good indications of positive progress in releasing these funds that can help create thousands of new jobs. It would be very unfortunate for the respect agenda if this wasn’t resolved positively, but I believe there’s a real understanding that this should happen.
“I also welcome the assurance given today that the three devolved administrations are to be given a full involvement in the Treasury’s preparations for this autumn’s Comprehensive Spending Review.”
Further calls for accelerated capital spending are unlikely to be agreed to by the Westminster government. Those present at the meeting agreed that all four administrations had a shared commitment to protecting the economy and to responsible management of public finances.
Credit must go to the leaders of all four administrations for the mature fashion in which they have embraced the need for cooperation and the pragmatic approach adopted by each given the different political dynamic now prevalent in each of the UK’s four constituent components.
It remains to be seen how the Scottish branch of the Labour party and their many Scottish media friends will react to the news that this funding, the Labour party fought so hard to keep from Scotland, may eventually be on its way thanks to the actions of the SNP.