Your Special Report on The Scotsman Conference (6 June) raises many important questions, and reveals some inconsistent attitudes.
David Watt, of the Institute of Directors Scotland, wants much greater clarity. The current UK government, and its predecessors, have consistently missed targets; it is not reasonable to expect the Yes campaign to be able to provide more certainty than the UK can. We can, however, offer reasoned arguments.
Several speakers referred to the troubles of the euro as evidence that a currency union between Scotland and the rest of the UK could not work. This idea suits the No campaign, but independent figures such as Dr Armstrong and Professor Bell surely have a duty to point out that the eurozone troubles are largely self-inflicted. If they had stuck to the rules laid down at Maastricht, Italy and Greece and some others would never have been admitted. Perceptions are important, and the experts’ job is to correct misconceptions.
Rupert Soames is right that there would be costs in providing services presently reserved. I do not know how he arrived at his £700 million per annum, but what do we pay just now for these services? Some of them are already out-sourced to multinationals and more are to follow.
Building a sovereign wealth fund would be more difficult than if it had been done at the start of North Sea oil, but we could put say 10 per cent of oil revenues into it, add the income from the Crown Estates, and charge royalties for the use of our energy test facilities.
This money would not lie idle. To support desirable manufacturing developments, we could take a minority shareholding instead of some grants or loans, expenditure which would have taken place anyway.