Terry Murden : Farewell to CBI chief Richard Lambert who always put interests of the country first

RICHARD Lambert has announced he will be stepping down as director-general of the CBI early next year, by which time he'll be close to completing his five-year term and the economy may be getting back on its feet.

He may also take some credit for maintaining a dialogue with politicians on all sides to the wider benefit of British business.

With the storm of the financial crisis impacting his term in office, there was always a danger that the CBI and other trade bodies would be seen as defenders of the indefensible. The banks, with their reputation for excess and unrestrained greed, handed him a tough brief and with the economy lurching from one calamity to another the CBI and others have been left to provide some security to those with no responsibility for the downturn.

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As would be expected, Lambert has argued for companies to be protected from higher taxes, from burdensome regulation and for a clear strategic plan for cutting the deficit in the public finances. In each instance, he can tick the box for job done, or at least work in progress, and for taming those in high office who might otherwise have seen business as an easy touch.

If there were any doubts over his leadership it may have been in his somewhat limited contribution to debate in Scotland. He preferred to leave Scottish affairs to his officers in Glasgow, perhaps deferring to their local knowledge and not wanting to step on local toes.

But in the midst of the frequent firestorms it seemed on occasions remiss for him to sidestep affairs of particular interest to Scotland. On one such occasion last year, Royal Bank of Scotland was facing the wrath of shareholders in Edinburgh, while he was delivering a speech nearby that focused on the G20 and wider issues that added little to what his audience could have read in that morning's newspapers.

That said, he at least avoided the occasional foot-in-mouth errors of his predecessor Lord Digby Jones, who divided opinion between those who saw him as an ill-informed clown and others who liked his unpredictable, tell-it-as-it-is approach to Scotland. Lambert may be seen as the straight man to Jones's sometimes comedic outbursts.

But as advocates for British business, both were faultless in their desire to curb political ambition over the best interests of the economy and the country. Jones was able to complete his mission from within government. Lambert, who has professed a desire to find a new challenge, may yet get the call to follow him.

Coal company flotation will be rare landmark for Scotland

SCOTLAND has another listed company. Yes, after the long drought they're now flooding the market. Well, not quite a flood. But a trickle will do, and who would have bet on seeing a Scottish coal company come to market?

As we report today, Scottish Resources Group is readying itself for a flotation that will value the company at some 250 million. SRG, born out of the privatisation of British Coal in 1994, is keen to expand and is raising 25m to help it do so.

Importantly, this is not just about coal. Like any good energy venture these days, the company is also in renewables and has a number of applications pending. But it is encouraging in these difficult times that SRG is expanding on the back of buoyant international demand and has seen a sharp rise in turnover and profits.

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Once again it is Scotland's experienced business leaders who appear on the share register: Sir Peter Burt, the former chief executive of Bank of Scotland, and Charles Hammond, the CEO of Forth Ports, are both joined by Brian Wilson, the former energy minister.

The flotation of SRG at the end of July is the latest in a growing list of energy firms taking the flotation route. Oil and gas company Fairfield Energy last week announced plans to raise $500m (337m). Though technically based in the south, the company's operating business is wholly in Aberdeen, where it joins a clutch of quoted oil companies that continue to invest in the North Sea region, which has just been identified as home to another large discovery.

Another oil and gas firm, EnQuest, and the gold miner ScotGold have also been recent newcomers to the list of Scottish, or at least quasi-Scottish, firms turning to the stock market in the search for funds, probably due in part to the more testing pressures of raising money through the banks.

Tomorrow, we'll also see online dating service EasyDate make its debut on the Alternative Investment Market, the LSE's junior exchange. It may be a contrast to the miners and explorers, but it's a business that is in a growth sector, and growth is what the Scottish economy requires just now.