SCOTTISH Secretary Alister Jack has claimed “austerity is not a thing” under the Conservative government.

He was jeered as he hit back at criticisms of the Government’s “bust” austerity approach to public finances.

Jack’s extraordinary claim came in response to a question from SNP MP Gavin Newlands – who highlighted Scotland was set to receive proportionally the lowest block grant since the beginning of devolution.

The SNP MP also hit out at cuts to the Scottish Government’s capital budget – which is used to fund major investments like infrastructure projects.

Newlands said: “Capital funding to the Scottish Parliament hasn’t just been cut – it’s been slashed by 10% on his watch. That’s money that could’ve been spent to invest in schools, in hospitals and infrastructure about to be frittered away on a sickening pre-election bribe that will buy precisely no one.

“Will he finally accept that it’s his Government’s bust or burst austerity that is driving public services to the edge?”

Jack replied: “This is nonsense. Austerity is not a thing under this government, not a thing at all.”

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At this point he was interrupted by jeers from SNP MPs.

“No absolutely not,” he continued.

“Departmental spending – and this is the point the SNP don’t acknowledge – departmental spending throughout this parliament has grown by 3.2% on average. That’s the simple truth.”

Austerity was the flagship economic programme of the coalition government when the Conservatives returned to power in 2010 in the wake of the financial crash.

Tory and LibDem ministers slashed public spending in the years that followed. Spending fell in real terms in areas such as social security under the watch of David Cameron and his chancellor George Osborne, the architects of the austerity programme.

While public spending has increased in recent years, critics say this is insufficient to cover what was cut during the years of austerity.