The question over the delay of the provision of free childcare to enable mothers of young children to return to work, should they wish, is quite puzzling. The SNP government, with its devolved powers, could implement the flagship policy right now but refuses to do so.
Critics claim that this is simply because the promise was always going to be unaffordable, but our leaders tell us it is because to put these women back to work before independence would simply be to contribute their tax payments to the UK Treasury. By this logic, we should not be trying to attract any new businesses or jobs to Scotland at present, but what interests me is that more people joining the workforce is undoubtedly good for everyone, throughout the whole of the UK, so surely we should do it now, if, indeed, it can be done.
I am sure that Alex Salmond does not need to be reminded of the Edinburgh Agreement, in which he and co-signatory David Cameron agreed to give full support to any measures that would be mutually beneficial to both an independent Scotland and the UK. Mr Salmond quotes this whenever Westminster refuses to co-operate with his plans, for example, on the issue of a currency union, which would most certainly not be in the interests of the UK.
It is difficult to think of many matters that would truly be of “mutual benefit”, but childcare is one. To refuse women the opportunity to return to work simply because it would put money in George Osborne’s “back pocket” is not only petty, it also flies in the face of the agreement signed by our First Minister.
Walter J Allan
Colinton Mains Drive Edinburgh