Opt-out fallout

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The lead letters (20 May) referring to the VAT opt-outs contained expected, negative spin.

If these opt-outs are not continued after the negotiations following independence, what will the effect be?

Certain items will be a bit more expensive for everyone, including the wealthy, but this extra cost will not disappear into a black hole; it will be additional revenue for the Scottish Government.

It can then give back the money raised to those who really need it. The difference between Holyrood and Westminster is that Holyrood will not waste our taxes on things such as weapons of mass destruction, but will use its money for the benefit of Scottish citizens, especially the poor.

Andrew Collins

Skinners Steps


A report from the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Scotland expresses concerns regarding the costs and complexities 
of setting up a new tax and benefits system in an independent Scotland.

It says that if New Zealand’s experience is anything to go by, it could cost £750 million and probably a lot more.

Scottish finance secretary John Swinney’s response, predictably, is that Scotland will have a simpler, more cost-effective and cheaper system.

I have no doubt that a costing has been prepared by the SNP on this major issue and I am sure the Scottish voters would like to know what the figure is. Over to you, Mr Swinney, but why do I think I shouldn’t hold my breath for a definitive reply?

Donald Lewis

East Lothian

There has been much speculation in this section about whether an independent Scotland or rUK would keep EU opt-outs on VAT. The trigger was a European parliamentary question by outgoing Tory MEP Struan Stevenson (your report, 19 May). Mr Stevenson’s question very particularly asked about the “accession” of a state entirely “new” to the European Union. He carefully avoided mentioning “Scotland”, “independence”, “separation”, “succession” and “continuing”.

Had he used any of these words, the commission’s standard response is that regarding “scenarios such as the separation of one part of a member state … the commission would express its opinion on the legal consequences under EC law, on request from a member state”.

Would either Scotland or rUK keep the opt-outs? I don’t know, but the UK government needs only ask the EC the right question.

Iain Nicol

Yeaman Place