Prime Minister’s Question-Time:
David Simpson (DUP, Upper Bann) asked what impact the scrapping of the Barnett formula would have on the least well-off regions of the UK, including Northern Ireland.
Brown said that there has been agreement between all parties that the allocation of public spending should be based on need, and said it remained the correct formula. He added that £600m had been allocated to Northern Ireland to aid the economy.
Excuse the double negatives, but that's not Brown saying that Barnett won't be scrapped is it?
All parties still agree that allocation of public spending should be based on need, but that doesn't (apparently) now necessaily mean it will be allocated on the basis of the Barnett Formula- Owen Patterson, Conservative Spokesman on NI has been even more forthright on the matter:
"Furthermore, we have never said that a Conservative Government would make severe cuts to Northern Ireland’s block grant. We have said the Barnett Formula can't last forever. Any replacement would be a needs-based formula and as Northern Ireland has substantial needs it would therefore get substantial resources.
"These comments prove that debate about the Barnett Formula is happening in a fact-free vacuum and we have repeatedly called on the Government to show some leadership on this issue and look at an updated needs-based assessment of how spending should be allocated across the UK"
"Fact-free vacuum" indeed, which reminds me, I'm still waiting for a logical, coherent reasoning from the DUP (or anyone else actually) for the retention of Barnett...well?