Abolish the NIO – redux…

IT’S Liberal Democrat party conference time, and Northern Ireland spokesman Alistair Carmichael has reiterated the party’s call for the Northern Ireland Office to be abolished. In fact, he wants the Scottish and Welsh offices done away with too, and the three amalgamated. Carmichael said: “Labour has never really known where it is heading on the constitution. We now have a parliament in Scotland and assemblies in Wales, London and Northern Ireland. There is absolutely no appetite to undo these changes in any of these areas. The asymmetric appearance of our post-devolution constitution, however, has generated resentment in parts of England. Labour does not know how to respond. The Liberal Democrats believe the Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland offices should be abolished. A new department for the regions and nations would ensure that communications is maintained between the devolved administrations and Westminster.” To back his argument, Carmichael suggested that the Scotland Office was becoming less relevant, after figures showed it received just 39 letters a year from MPs and peers, put out an average of only one press release a week yet managed to spend 32 per cent more on hospitality than in the previous year. If anyone remembers, a similar Freedom of Information request on the NIO’s activities might be worth pursuing next May…

  • Dawkins

    “The Scotland Office … received just 39 letters a year from MPs and peers, put out an average of only one press release a week yet managed to spend 32 per cent more on hospitality than in the previous year.”

    Watch each of the three offices fight like an alleycat to justify its, er, fatcat existence.

  • Michael Shilliday

    Does this mean th Lib Dems accept that NI Scotland and Wales are constitutionally the same, and that they are UK Unionists and not simply GB Unionists? Have they told their “sister” party here?

  • DC

    You merging any time soon with the DUP?

  • Michael Shilliday

    Not likely.

  • A well-informed observer suggested to me that devolution of policing was the major obstacle to this happening.

  • A serious downside of the proposal is that the devolved parliaments/assemblies/gasworks would then be locking horns with the Treasury directly.

    Good for English tax-payers. Bad for the 99.99% who do not grasp the details of the Barnett formula (which, in any event, is based on Westminster’s diktat, and not on any established legislation).

    Unless, of course, the devolved p/a/gs prefer to rely on local taxation. And, please, don’t in hypothetical oil and gas revenues: life’s too short.

  • páid

    And, please, don’t (factor) in hypothetical oil and gas revenues: life’s too short.

    ……when you’re trying to forestall a legitimate proposition 😉

  • páid @ 03:55 PM:

    About as legitimate as the number 4 best-seller on the Sinn Féin bookshop website: an Ireland Basque T-shirt. Is that to be worn with or without stockings and high heels?

    Nurse! Quick! The curtains!

  • Anonymonger

    “Not likely.

    Posted by Michael Shilliday on Sep 17, 2007 @ 02:24 PM”

    No you nicely instigated a wee purge agaisnt thos who you thoughht were to close for comfort to the DUP i.e. anyone who does fawn all over the wee CH clique!

  • Michael Shilliday

    Your admiration is unfounded, no purges I’m afraid.

  • páid

    Well Malcolm,

    I’ll accept your line about life being too short to debate the question, if you’ll accept my assertion that there’s a legitimate argument for Scotland laying claim to a decent share of North Sea oil revenues.

    As evidence for both, I googled oil+revenue+scotland+independent……….
    and got 1,440,000 results!

  • páid @ 12:51 AM:

    Quite frankly, you can argue the “Scotland’s oil” issue until the cows are culled, but this is (mainly) a NI site. So, unless Rathlin Island is the next Kuwait …

    While kicking the English is a well-established minority sport, one product of the oil revenues has been investment in the whole UK & NI infrastructure. So a Glaswegian’s interest doesn’t (or shouldn’t) stop at Gretna. Equally, the NI public sector employs twice the proportion of workers as the SE of England (and accounts for going on half of NI GDP). Scotland is not all that far behind. Who gets the benefits of state revenues therein? And, compared to the whole economy, the public sector employs a disproportionately large percentage of women. Go figure.

    The bottom line for the individual is that the Barnett formula (to which I previously referred) means the average person in England has £5,940 a year of State money spent on her/him, the average person in Scotland gets £7,346 and the NI bod gets (wait for it) £7,945. I’m struggling here to get “goose”, “gander” and “sauce” into the same expression.

    In passing, and on the issue of “who owns what”, if Devorgilla gets the blame for the Anglo-Norman land-grab, does Margarete of Denmark get the credit for the Scottish one of 1469?

    And, if you google big+breasts you can get over two and a half million “hits”. But what has that got to do with the price of fish?