Financing the Union: Goschen, Barnett, and Beyond

Iain Mclean

in Anglo-Scottish Relations, from 1900 to Devolution and Beyond

Published by British Academy

Published in print December 2005 | ISBN: 9780197263310
Published online February 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191734144 | DOI:

Series: Proceedings of the British Academy

Financing the Union: Goschen, Barnett, and Beyond

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  • Modern History (1700 to 1945)


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In the ensuing 1886 General Election, the Conservatives swept to power with their new Liberal Unionist allies, including Joseph Chamberlain and George Goschen. Lord Salisbury appointed Goschen as Chancellor of the Exchequer later in 1886. Goschen announced his ‘equivalent’ or ‘proportion’ in his 1888 Budget. The politics of Barnett formula's origins and its implications for public finance since 1997 are shown. This formula was never intended to be permanent. Lord Barnett has told the Treasury Committee that he did not expect it to last ‘a year or even twenty minutes’. Barnett was also a new Goschen for modern unionists. Three of the four main parties have called for Barnett reform. Scottish National Party and some Liberal Democrat and Conservative politicians have called for ‘fiscal autonomy’. The chapter then outlines the Conservative fiscal autonomists' position, not necessarily in language they would use. The explanation of regression on past spending is also given.

Keywords: George Goschen; Barnett formula; fiscal autonomy; Barnett reform; Conservative fiscal autonomists; regression

Chapter.  6150 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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