Letter: Scotland needs more fiscal responsibility

The UK Government will this week publish the Scotland Bill devolving further powers to the Scottish Parliament.

The signatories to this letter are concerned that the bill will only focus on the recommendations of the Calman Commission and believe that there needs to be a greater debate during the passage of the bill through the House of Commons on the appropriate level of fiscal responsibility which should be devolved to the Scottish Parliament.

The bill will, and must, be judged on whether it contains the real economic levers to help sustain recovery and grow the economy. We do not believe that the limited recommendations of the Calman Commission provide genuine fiscal responsibility since the range of taxes devolved is too narrow and would only enable the Scottish Parliament to raise around a third of its own revenue.

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The best way forward would be to devolve most current taxes to the Scottish Parliament since this would make politicians more accountable for the financial decisions they take, while giving them both the incentive and the fiscal tools necessary to achieve improved public services and faster economic growth.

Further, it would help to foster a healthy relationship between Westminster and Holyrood.

All of the main Scottish and UK parties agree that the Scottish Parliament should have greater financial powers. The debate is now about which powers should be devolved and when. We hope that the publication of this bill will lead to an open-minded discussion about what is in the best interests of Scotland and the UK as a whole.

The opportunity now exists to fashion a new, sustainable financial settlement to underpin the devolution settlement. We believe that ultimately the Scotland Bill should be measured by the economic levers and responsibility it transfers.

Ben Thomson (Reform Scotland); Jim McColl (Clyde Blowers); Dan Macdonald (Macdonald Estates); Crawford Beveridge (Autodesk Inc and former chief executive, Scottish Enterprise); Prof Sir Donald MacKay (economist); Audrey Baxter (WA Baxter and Sons); Alex Hammond-Chambers (Alex Hammond-Chambers & Co); Peter de Vink (EFGH Corporate Finance); John McGlynn (Airlink Group); Angus Tulloch (investment manager); Prof Drew Scott (economist); Malcolm Fraser (architect); Stewart Spence (hotelier and businessman); Prof David Simpson (economist); Dr David Milne (Wolfson Microelectronics); Prof Andrew Hughes Hallett (economist); Tim Noble (Palmaris Capital); Dennis MacLeod (businessman and author)