In the dark about who is to blame for fiscal framework talks grinding to a halt

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NEWS the Tory Treasury minister in London, Greg Hands, responsible for the financial negotiations over the Scotland Bill has gone on a half-term holiday, is no surprise (your report, 17 February).

Deadlines may come and go, but the Conservative party south of the Border is not in the least interested in giving money to Scotland; the Tories only want to protect voters in the south of England as that is where most of their support comes from.

Because the people of Scotland are being kept totally in the dark about the negotiations, there is no way to tell if the problem is the SNP finance minister, John Swinney, making unreasonable demands or whether it is the usual problem, that you cannot trust the Tories. But either way, it will be seen as a victory for the SNP.

A positive deal on finances will mean the plucky Scots have won out against the austerity of the Tories. No deal is the end of the Smith Commission proposals, another step towards independence and Westminster to blame. A fudge of a deal, even though desirable, can of course safely be turned down as every SNP decision must aim at the ultimate goal of independence.

Marjorie Mackenzie

Grange Loan, Edinburgh

Discussion about the recurring negotiations on the “fiscal framework”, and new powers for Holyrood, tends to be a bit of a conversation stopper (your report, 17 February).

It is one of those paradoxes that the more important the issue the more difficult it is to explain to the general public.

An independent arbitrator may be the only means of resolving the differences between the Scottish Government and the Treasury. That it should even come to that is an indication of the degree of distrust on both sides. It should remind us too of the problems there might have been had the independence referendum vote gone the other way.

Just consider some of the issues. What share of the national debt should Scotland take on? How would the North Sea oil revenues be apportioned between the new state and the rest of the UK? How would Scotland’s share of public expenditure be determined? What would be its position as regards the European Union, etc, etc?

Just think of how protracted the negotiations would have been. 
I doubt they would have been resolved by May as the Scottish Government hoped.

Bob Taylor

Shiel Court, Glenrothes, Fife