Calls for help with new Forth bridge financing rejected by Westminster
A fresh Commons row has broken out over the financing of the
new Forth Bridge . Holyrood is proceeding with plans to build the crossing but there have been doubts about how the estimated £2.3bn price tag will be met.
The Scottish Government has made it clear it was prepared to pay from its own budget.
However, a spokesman added that given the scale and unique nature of the project, it had approached the UK Government for the flexibility to spread the payment over a longer period. Treasury Financial Secretary Stephen Timms said the UK Government had offered “flexibility” but funding for the crossing was a devolved matter. This flexibility does not involve any extra money or help with spreading the cost of the project over a long period .
Liberal Democrat Willie Rennie asked ministers “When will the government come forward with real new money to help pay for this bridge?”
Mr Timms said: “Funding is a devolved decision, it is a matter for the Scottish Executive to determine.
“We have offered flexibility to help within the economic framework applying to the UK as a whole and I hope that flexibility will allow this project to proceed.”
English MP Bob Marris then angrily intervened, asking: “Could you assure me the government will hold firm? Scotland already gets shedloads of money under the Barnett Formula.
“They are entitled to raise their own taxes and this government should stand firm against this bridge where they want even more money.”
Mr Timms told him he had made a “forceful point” .
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The position has been made clear in the Scottish Parliament on many occasions – the Scottish Government will deliver a new Forth crossing on time and on budget using our own resources by 2016 at a cost of between £1.7bn to £2.3bn.
“However, given the scale and unique nature of the project, we have approached the UK Government for the flexibility to spread the payment over a longer period.
“The reality is that the Treasury response involves no additional resources.
“The need for Scotland to have full control over its own resources, and the ability to borrow in the same way as other governments, has never been more evident.”
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