I listened to colleagues of Ms Gildernew regarding the subvention and I took account of it. The excess expenditure on defence, to which Northern Ireland contributes, probably accounts for the best part of £1 billion of the subvention. However, even in 2018, if Northern Ireland had been part of the Republic of Ireland, the EU subvention would have been substantially higher than the UK's contribution to the EU's subvention. With the UK leaving the EU, that will disappear. Therefore, there are pluses and minuses, but there are more minuses overall. When we adjust for these special factors, the subvention comes down significantly. However, a large subvention remains.
In addition, when we did preliminary work on this in 2018, we did not treat pensions separately. Listening to the arguments made by Dr. Adele Bergin and Dr. Seamus McGuinness and Ms Gildernew's colleagues, I believe she is correct that social insurance contributions by people in Northern Ireland entitle them to a pension paid for by the United Kingdom. Irish people who work in the United Kingdom and who then come back to Ireland are then entitled to a pension for the period they worked. Therefore, an allowance should probably be made for that element.
Turning to the national debt, I have another paper with a colleague in Lund University in Sweden where we have looked at the history of this aspect. There is no escape from the national debt. It would be a good trade-off in Irish unification, were the UK to continue to pay the social insurance contribution, but a share of the UK's national debt would travel with Northern Ireland to a united Ireland. That is what happened when West Virginia left Virginia 150 years ago. When Ireland left the United Kingdom after the treaty of December 1921, it agreed to take a share of the UK's national debt. It would have been 80% of Irish GDP. The way we escaped that was through a deal in December 1925 with the UK, when Ireland sold the option of redrawing the Border with Northern Ireland in return for a write-off on the debt. We basically sold a right to redraw the Border. Now, the right was non-existent. Regarding Scottish independence, the deal there was that an independent Scotland would have taken a share of the national debt. The UK Treasury looked at the 1925 file and acknowledged that Scotland was not going to be able to sell Northern Ireland back to England to escape paying for the national debt.
Looking at it realistically, yes, the subvention would be significantly lower and I give the figures in the note. However, it would still be quite large.
As regards the questions Ms Gildernew raised on efficiencies, there would definitely be efficiency gains. These can be realised even without unification. A very interesting paper was prepared by the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister and the Department of Foreign Affairs in 2006 or 2007, when there was no Executive. It focused on health and education as areas in which Northern Ireland is lacking in provision. In terms of third level places, that is particularly evident in the area of IT. Letterkenny Institute of Technology, Dundalk Institute of Technology and Institute of Technology Sligo in the Republic could provide more in that case, although I think Derry needs more major investment in that regard.
I will leave the area of health to Professor Morgenroth, who knows more about it, living in a Border area. However, there is a case for integrating the health services, even in terms of medical training. The NHS training system is much better than the medical training system in the Republic because one needs to be part of a big system. Having integrated medical training on the island would be better for everybody. There are wins in that regard which are possible.
On the issue of poverty in Northern Ireland, the UK welfare system is grossly inferior to that of the Republic. I refer to the disruption caused by the changes made by the Conservative Party in the past five to seven years. I find it horrifying to watch the coverage on "Newsnight" or Channel 4 of the chaos those changes have caused for people at the bottom of the pile. Nobody seems to care. One would not get away with doing anything like that in the Republic. Of course, Northern Ireland is powerless to influence the changes. Ms Gildernew makes a really important point on poverty and the welfare system.