Wales politics

'Fair funding' for Wales would be 'tribute' to Barnett

Lord Barnett
Image caption Lord Barnett was a 'lovely, gentle, intelligent colleague', says Lord Wigley

Fair funding for Wales under the Barnett formula would be a "fitting tribute" to the man it was named after, Lord Wigley has said.

The ex-Plaid leader said Lord Barnett, who has died aged 91, was a "lovely, gentle, intelligent colleague".

Wales would get an extra £1.2bn a year if it received the same funding per head as Scotland, Lord Wigley said.

Government spokesman Lord Newby said Wales would get funding in line with "what people think is fair."

The Barnett formula, devised in the late 1970s, determines how much Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland receive if the UK government alters spending on services such as health and education in England.

Under the formula, extra funding - or cuts - from Westminster are allocated according to the population size of each nation and which powers are devolved to them.

Parity call

However, Lord Newby told the House of Lords that "virtually nobody understands how we've got to where we are today" in terms of funding the devolved administrations.

He added: "For the period ahead Wales will be receiving a figure in line with most definitions, I believe, of what people think is fair."

Lord Wigley said that if Wales received the same funding as Scotland relative to population it would get £1.2bn more.

He asked: "On what possible basis of equity can Wales be denied parity with Scotland in regards to such funding?"

"Would it not now be a fitting tribute to Lord Barnett if the government today pledged to revive the formula to deliver for Wales parity with Scotland in funding matters?"

During the Lords debate on Monday warm tributes were made to the former Labour cabinet minister who died on Saturday.

Lord Wigley said Lord Barnett was among the first to recognise that the funding formula in his name needed radical reform.

Liberal Democrat peer Lord Thomas of Gresford said that Lord Barnett was a "delightful person", while Baroness Royall of Blaisdon, Labour leader in the Lords, said that Lord Barnett was an "extraordinary" man.

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