Thursday, 2 April 2009

Formula One

I've just realised what's been missing from my life these past few months.

My sabbatical from Barnet formula stories is over. As the world's most powerful leaders met in London, I caught up with last night's meeting of a House of Lords committee to discuss the formula that dictates much public spending in devolved nations.

Welsh Secretary Paul Murphy was robust in his defence of a formula which opposition politicians (and some Labour ones) believe short-changes Wales.

Pointing out that he'd lived with the formula for much of his political life, he told peers: "Although there have been ups and downs, I can't think of a better one."

Barnett critics argue that the population-based formula takes no note of needs in poorer parts of the UK.

The Murphy response? "I think it has met the needs certainly in terms of the country I represent around the Cabinet table. I do believe it's met those needs well, indeed some
some English Members of Parliament and Members of the House of Lords would think it's met them too well.

"Certainly from the devolved administrations' point of view they have done pretty well I think out of the system."

That prompted a challenge from Lord Richard of Ammanford, he of that report on the Assembly's powers: "I don't think that's the view of the administration in Cardiff."

The former leader of the Lords said that having taken evidence in Cardiff: "It was very difficult to find anybody saying an enthusiastic word for the existing Barnett formula and the general feeling there seemed to be that a fairer system was capable of being developed and it would be more equitable were it to be introduced."

Paul Murphy: "I'm not saying it's perfect but I don't think there's a better's served us well.

"The problem you have always got is that we'll get people in Wales arguing the case that the formula isn't good enough for them and then you get people in England saying it's too good for them."

Replacing it could be "more trouble than it's worth".


Swansea Voter said...

So lets get this right. Paul Murphy doesn't believe in looking at a fairer funding system for Wales because he might get stick from English MP's? Glad to see he's putting a strong voice for Wales in the cabinet.

Anonymous said...

No, I think what he's trying to say is that as others want to change Barnett as they think the formula is too generous rather than not generous enough, we should be careful before calling for a new system, because we might not like the look of what it gets replaced with. In other words, be careful what you wish for... Agree or not, it's a valid point.