National debt ours? Yes or No – You Decide

Financial concern...Scotland's share of the national debt is debated by Aileen Campbell and David Mundell
Financial concern...Scotland's share of the national debt is debated by Aileen Campbell and David Mundell

The sixth question from the Carluke and Lanark Gazette’s Independence Debate will be answered by Clydesdale MSP Aileen Campbell and Clydesdale MP David Mundell.

Aileen and David kindly agreed to debate the case for Yes and No at the Gazette’s Independence Debate in Lanark Memorial Hall on May 26.

They were only too happy to answer questions posed by our readers that we couldn’t quite get through on the night, thanks to a heated meeting which 420 people attended!

So, just a matter of hours before Carluke and Lanark Gazette readers go to the polls to decide on independence, we’re bringing you their responses.

Each hour on the hour, between 8am and 10pm today, we’ll post one of the answers to a question posed by a Gazette reader.

For each question posed, we will give one opinion from the Yes camp and one from the No camp.

The sixth question, with answers from Aileen and David, asks about the national debt and Scotland’s share of it.

Question: Where do we stand with the UK national debt? If Scotland leaves the UK would it take a share of the debt and, if so, how could an independent Scotland pay this off?

Aileen Campbell, Yes campaign: The UK’s national debt is expected to peak at 86 per cent of UK GDP, nearly £1.6 trillion by 2016/17. The Scottish Government has set out how debt could be apportioned during the negotiation period between a Yes vote and independence day in March 2016. It could be apportioned by reference to the historic contribution made to the UK’s public finances by Scotland – that means recognising our contributions have been higher. Using 1980 as the base year, Scotland’s share of the national debt in 2016/17 is projected to be approximately £100bn, equivalent to 55 per cent of Scottish GDP. Alternatively, it could be apportioned according to population. Whatever scenario, Scotland’s share of the UK debt as a percentage of Scottish GDP will be substantially less than the debt of the rest of the UK expressed in the same terms.

David Mundell, No campaign: Scotland would take responsibility for a proportional share of UK Debt and this has been accepted by the Scottish Government. As a new country it would not look good for Scotland to default on its debts and repaying these would likely be a priority. This could mean higher taxes or lower public spending as independent experts have already questioned how a number of proposals put forward in the White Paper will be paid for.