It would be wrong to rush into replacing the controversial formula that allocates funding to Northern Ireland in the current financial climate, the Government has said.
Lord De Mauley ruled out rapid action on the issue despite pressure from Tory former Chancellor Lord Lawson and Labour's Lord Barnett, who produced the formula when he was Chief Secretary to the Treasury in the 1970s. The controversial Barnett formula is used to calculate how much central Government funding is given to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Lord Barnett told peers at question time: “There is approximately £1,600 per head more spent in public expenditure in Scotland than in England, which has very serious implications.”
He said a report by a Lords committee “unanimously recommended that is should be changed and based on need”.
Lord Lawson, a member of the committee, said: “I entirely agree that the number one objective must
be to reduce the appalling size of the deficit.” But he said the select committee's recommendations would “assist that task”.
Lord De Mauley said the coalition understood the concerns “very clearly”. But he said: “In the light of the grave financial situation the country faces it would be quite wrong to rush to a decision on this complicated matter.”