ONE of the priorities of this Government has been the creation a socio-economic climate to foster equal opportunity and justice.

It is a matter of great regret that while ministers are prepared to acknowledge the existence of injustice and inequality where they pertain to individuals, they are unable to recognise the blatant injustice and inequality inflicted on our region.

In theory, the Barnett Formula is supposed to iron out economic discrepancies in our United Kingdom, by apportioning public sector money to the regions according to need.

In practice, however, it serves to do no such thing.

We do not begrudge Scotland or Wales a penny of the money they get from the UK Treasury. We do not seek to reduce their allocation.

But we do begrudge the fact that our region gets £430 less public money per head of population than Scotland.

That can't be right, and it is incredible that a Government which purports to be passionate about justice and equal opportunity, thinks it is.

In terms of employment, our region lags behind every other part of mainland Britain. In a league table of European regions, we lie in the bottom half.

The case for our region enjoying at least parity with Scotland and Wales is overwhelming.

The Barnett Formula, created 23 years ago to compensate for Scotland and Wales not getting devolution, has passed its sell-by date.

Scotland and Wales have devolved power. The political and economic environment has been transformed since 1978.

It is high time the Government abandoned a mechanism which has no relevance to modern Britain.

THERE is little cause for celebration at the news that the Millennium Dome has been granted a new lease of life.

The creation, management and disposal of the building have all provided an object lesson in why the Government should never again get involved in such projects.

We welcome the handing over of the site to the private sector, in the hope that the Dome will no longer be a drain on the public purse.