THE recent publication of this year's GERS figures (estimates of Scotland's financial position within the United Kingdom) has prompted the ritual round of claims that the figures show how Scotland could not possibly afford to be independent.

Leaving aside the fact that these figures show how Scotland's finances are faring whilst we are part of the UK and not how they might fare if we were independent, they give some people an excuse to claim that Scotland has a financial deficit. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The Devolution Settlement that established the Scottish Parliament expressly provided that the Scottish Government was not allowed to spend more that it receives from Westminster. (It has since been granted very limited borrowing powers).

Thus the Scottish Government is prohibited by law to run a deficit and in fact has run surpluses for many years. The figure that is often mentioned for "Scotland's deficit" is really Scotland's notional population share of the United Kingdom's deficit, to which Scotland has contributed not a penny. It is Westminster's deficit - not Holyrood's.