Tories weren't quite sure about the Union 300 years ago, either

Plus: Competing estimates of our reserves of oil and badgers

13 September 2014

9:00 AM

13 September 2014

9:00 AM

Birth of a nation

A reminder of how England and Scotland came to be one country:
— Proposals had been made throughout the 17th century, with English Whigs generally in favour and Tories less keen.
— For the English, there was the attraction of neutralising an old enemy. For the Scots the attractions were mainly economic. The collapse of the Darien scheme, a failed attempt to establish a Scottish colony, New Caledonia, in what is now Panama, had run up heavy losses for investors. Union would bring Scotland access to markets in England’s extensive colonies.
— The eventual negotiations, in April 1706, lasted just three days. One of the hurdles, that Scots did not want to pay English taxes, was overcome by exempting Scots from taxes on paper, windows, coal, salt and malt.
— In compensation for taking a share in the liability of England’s debts, Scotland was paid just under £400,000 in ‘equivalent funds’, some of which went to investors in the Darien scheme.

Reserve judgment

Estimates of remaining oil reserves in the North Sea:
£2.5-£3.5 trillion Pro-independence think tank N-56
£1.5 trillion Yes campaign
£120bn Office of National Statistics
£61bn Office of Budgetary Responsibility

In the bank

Addressing the TUC conference, Governor of the Bank of England Mark Carney said that workers ‘deserved’ more money and that wages should start rising in real terms next year. Has the Governor’s salary kept pace with inflation? Here is how it’s varied in the time of the past four governors:

Nominal salary
2014 £874,000
2012 £307,792
2003 £259,363
1991 £198,546
In today’s prices (RPI adjusted)
2014 £874,000
2012 £325,598
2003 £366,833
1991 £379,311

Moving the goalposts

The badger cull recommenced. Some estimates of the badger population in England:
190,000 Defra (2013) quoting studies from the 1980s and 1990s
— ‘There are no current estimates of the badger population in England’: Defra (2014), adding that there are an estimated 64,000 social groups of the animals
220,000 Joint Nature Conservation Committee
325,000 TB Farm Advisory Service
400,000 Somerset Wildlife Trust

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