DR ROGER Leakey (Letters, 9 July) suggested the cost of replicating 14,000 employees in 267 UK embassies, high commissions and other offices spread over 166 countries and overseas territories around the world, “and particularly the quality of its services”, would be “a new expense for Scotland’s taxpayers”.
The Scottish Government’s projected network of 70-90 international offices, focused on needs, appears appropriate to Scotland’s size and in line with other comparable states. Scottish taxpayers are currently contributing pro-rata towards the UK’s bloated overseas establishment; this would be reallocated to Scottish missions.
Although significant economic benefits accrue to London’s economy from the presence there of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the metropolis also gains indirectly from expenditure on UK missions overseas, since other countries spend off-setting sums in London. Apart from a few consulates, no equivalent quid pro quo expenditure currently occurs in Scotland.
Following independence, foreign acquisition of suitable premises for embassies in Scotland would stimulate the local property market, primarily in Edinburgh, while these missions would perennially purchase goods and services, use local contractors and create local employment opportunities in a variety of supporting capacities (maintenance, clerical, cleaners, etc.) – the norm in Dublin, Oslo, and every other capital city.
Foreign embassies are also significant local economic assets to their hosts. For the first time in this sphere, Scotland would see off-setting compensation for its taxpayers’ annual investment. Quality would improve in its most fundamental function: promoting Scotland’s foreign policy, values, tourism, and business needs and interests would become the exclusive objects of her own diplomats.
(Dr) Kenneth J Cameron
Leewood Park Dunblane