Thursday, 19 August 2004

It's our money

Our new parliament building has cost £431 million (so far) and today's Scotsman poses an interesting question:
Everyone has a view on the parliament - but if you could turn back time and start again with the hundreds of millions of pounds eventually spent on the site, what would you do with it?
The paper has asked a selection of the great and the good what would they do with the cash. The answers are, sadly, somewhat predictable. Almost all of the respondents call for "public" expenditure of one sort or another. But what of freedom, and indeed whisky?

The Owner of Glengoyne whisky distillery says:

If I was going to be flippant, I would give several bottles of whisky to each member of the public - £431 million divided by Scotland’s population of about five million people is £86 and that equates to around four bottles of good single malt for every single person.

But if I was going to be serious about it, I would divert the money into education because if Scotland is to remain competitive in the global economy it has to educate the population.

China and India both have extremely well-educated populations and salaries in those countries are relatively low compared to ours.

Mr Russell doesn't seem to realise that private education is far more appreciated in India and China than in Scotland. Putting even more taxpayers' money into the maw of the Scottish state education system would be a disaster. It would be far less "flippant" to let us have the four bottles of malt!

As for freedom, AL Kennedy gives what is the correct answer to the Scotsman's question:

why not just give everyone £86, or let everyone who wants to claim it so that if some people don’t, everyone else can get £87 or whatever it turns out to be?
Unfortunately, Ms Kennedy spoils thing by prefixing her answer with this:
The sensible answer is to spend it on something useful like public services, healthcare and education.
Oh dear.

Of course, the really correct answer would be to give the £431 million back to the taxpayers in proportion to how it was collected.


David Farrer said...

Comments made on previous template:

Belhaven soon changed his tune when he was one of the first to get his grubby little hands on English gold.Another one that took the high road.

30 August 2004, 13:04:49 GMT+01:00
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Stuart Dickson
How very presbyterian of you. 
You like to sweat for your paycheque. If it doesn't hurt its not doing you any good. 
Masochism is unfortunately a very popular hobby in Scotland. 
The case for independence is not based on our oil wealth. Oil income would merely be a nice bonus and help us to cut taxes or boost spending, as the electorate sees fit. Anyway, it would only boost the Scottish Exchequer for the next 200 years or so. Thereafter we could get down to doing a bit more "proper" work.

22 August 2004, 15:30:06 GMT+01:00
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Legally there is a good case that it is Scotland's oil. There is an equally good one that it is Orkney & Shetland's or the UK's or the EU's. As the Milosevic trial is so eloquently pointing out international law tends to be whatever the big boys with the guns say it is. 
I must admit to some moral qualms about basing the case for independence on "our" oil. We did no more than the Saudis to put it there - it isn't money earned by our work it was there when we got here.

22 August 2004, 12:09:30 GMT+01:00
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Stuart Dickson
Of course its not all Scottish oil. Only 95% of it is Scottish. And only 60% of the gas reserves and fields are in Scottish territory. 
An interesting fact is that Scotland actually has 90% of the European Union's oil reserves and 50% of her gas reserves! Not a lot of people know that. Now you are a lucky person this morning, because you know it too! I am feeling magnificent with my titbits of (some would say "useless") information. 
Excellent suggestion for our re-convened Parliament's motto: "it's oor oil". I may well have to put that to the Public Petitions Committee. You deserve some small commission for that apt suggestion, perhaps even a bottle of malt. 
Its a most modern motto. As far as I am aware, oil and gas reserves did not feature in Lord Belhaven's or Fletcher of Saltoun's eloquent speeches opposing the Treaty of Union in the auld Parliament in 1706. 
I was not previously aware that "Westminster politicians ... are all Scottish". You could be making a groundbreaking contribution to our knowledge. Where did you source this gem of intelligence? Previously, in my profound ignorance, I had been under the mis-apprehension that the majority of Westminster parliamentarians were English. 
When is England going to start campaigning for self-government?

22 August 2004, 08:43:51 GMT+01:00
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David Farrer said...

They should put a wee sign on the front 
door of the parliament "it's oor oil" 
A pre-emptive strike against any suggestion that English workers paid for it. 
If the blame lies with Westminster politicians, don't forget they are all Scottish. 
It is not all Scottish oil any way,two oil fields are in English waters.

22 August 2004, 08:07:52 GMT+01:00
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David Farrer
I agree with you about Westminster's responsibility for the design/site selection/financing and contracts. I think that I blogged to that effect a year or more ago.  
Originally I was in favour of the Royal High School site being used in conjunction with the neighbouring St Andrews House complex - as most people expected. Once the Parliament was operating in the Church of Scotland building I came to believe that the politicians should remain there but by then it was too late.

20 August 2004, 15:41:09 GMT+01:00
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Stuart Dickson
You can have your bottle of whisky as soon as you return your share of Scotland's oil revenues. 
The blame for the Holyrood fiasco lies squarely with Westminster politicians who set the design, the site, financing and construction contracts before our new Parliament had even convened its first meeting in 1999. 
Assuming that you are a democrat (always a very large leap of faith on this blog) and you accept the positive result of our 1997 self-government referendum, where would you like to see our Parliament and Government premises located? What would be a reasonable bill for a chamber and offices? Which site would you have preferred?

20 August 2004, 09:58:26 GMT+01:00
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The owner of Glengoyne Distillery would give a bottle to every one in Scotland? 
I believe I've spotted a new myth in the making. How about a bottle for every one from john o groats to lands end that paid for it?.

19 August 2004, 19:32:38 GMT+01:00