News Column

Statements on Scotland's share of UK national debt don't add up

June 19, 2014

Iain AD Mann (Letters, June 18) erred in quoting pound(s)3.6 trillion as the UK's national debt. The figure to be found on official internet sites is pound(s)1.3tr rising to pound(s)1.6tr. Interest is paid on this debt to the tune of pound(s)50 billion or so each year. Scotland's share might be more than pound(s)4 billion a year following independence and would have to be paid or the default could cause international financiers to mark down the country's credit rating.

They would surely be less than impressed by this wrecklessness linked to pique that the Bank of England just will not agree to be Scotland's lender of last resort, despite Alex Salmond writing in Scotland's Future that "it will" (no ifs or buts).

Scotland's already known fiscal deficit of pound(s)12bn a year (Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland, 2012-2013) would balloon by this extra pound(s)4 billion plus the interest on Finance Secretary John Swinney's accumulated pound(s)7bn borrowings.

There are no sources of revenues additional to those specified in Holyrood's Scotland's balance sheet 2013 in sight. Vague assertions that increased immigration and growth and productivity would pay off the accumulating debts are not convincing. Voting with "hope" to have the "opportunity to create a socially just country" just doesn't give one confidence for a secure future. Scotland's being "one of the world's wealthiest countries" has come about from being in the UK. Better evidence -supported reasons and not gut feelings must come from the Yes campaigners.

Joe Darby,

Glenburn, St Martins Mill, Cullicudden,


Without explaining why, Iain AD Mann (Letters, June 18) states unequivocally that we must clearly understand that an independent Scotland operating without a currency union with the rest of the UK "would have no further involvement in the UK national debt and no continuing responsibility for sharing the cost of financing that debt". Fair enough, for any increase or decrease in that debt or its financing arising after independence day, but what is the basis for walking away from Scotland's acknowledged share of that debt and its financing accrued up to that date? Perhaps Mr Mann or some other expert in such matters would explain?

The situation seems similar to a debtor with a maxed-out credit card where the debtor cannot avoid liability for the accrued debt by saying simply that because the card cannot be used any more he has no further responsibility for that accrued debt.

Alan Fitzpatrick,

10 Solomon's View, Dunlop.

I am aware the UK national debt is pound(s)1.6 trillion, not pound(s) 3.6tr as stated in my letter (Letters, June 18). A simple typing error in my drafting that, in haste, I failed to spot. Mea Culpa!

Iain AD Mann,

7 Kelvin Court, Glasgow.

I note another article in The Herald about additional powers for Scotland after a No vote ("Leaders in pledge on powers following a No vote", The Herald, June 17).

It's a great pity, and a missed opportunity, that the Scottish Government didn't consider this option prior to arranging the referendum.

Perhaps then we'd have a had a third option on the ballot paper, possibly named the devo-max option and every one of us would know exactly what we're voting for.

Ann Ballinger,

Glen Sannox Drive,


I am somewhat confused by your headline ("China in boost to No camp as premier backs UK", The Herald, June 18). Why do you think Scots will listen to a dictatorial communist with an appalling human rights record?

Not everyone sucks up to people with deep pockets.

Jim Dear,

82 Marketgate,


Can William Durward (Letters, June 18) tell us of any UK single- party government which has been elected by a majority of voters? The first-past-the -post voting system used for Westminster elections ensures that a mere handful of constituencies in Middle England decide which party wins.

Robin MacCormick,

82 Dalkeith Road,


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Source: Herald, The (Scotland)

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