Secretary of State for Scotland Michael Moore has dismissed a call from some of Scotland’s most senior businessmen and women for real economic levers to be made available to Scotland.
The Lib Dem MP was facing questions in the House of Commons when he was asked by the SNP’s Angus Robertson if he would heed the concerns of Scottish business leaders and grant real powers such as control over corporation tax.
However the Secretary of State replied that the the business community had already had their say in Calman and said the Tory/Lib Dem coalition had no intention of devolving corporation tax.
Speaking in the House of Commons Mr Robertson had asked: “The Secretary of State knows that many of Scotland’s leading business men and women this week issued a statement and they said that there must “be real economic levers to sustain recovery and grow the economy”.
“So will the Secretary of State and his Tory colleagues look again at their plans and consider improvements to the legislation such as devolving corporation tax to help business grow.”
Mr Moore replied: “I listen carefully to a range of opinion from across business and across different sectors in Scottish society.
“What I will say to him is the business community was well represented on the Calman Commission that gave rise to these particular proposals and has been supportive of it so we will listen to the range of opinion but we have no intention of devolving powers over corporation tax.”
Speaking after the exchange at Scottish Questions, Angus Robertson said:
“As it stands the Scotland Bill short changes Scotland, and we must improve it so we can deliver real benefits for people in Scotland.
“Instead of tinkering at the edges we need full financial responsibility to boost our recovery, invest in our public services and support long-term sustainable growth.
“While there are some parts of the Bill that we welcome, the fiscal powers proposed are far too limited, and for the sake of our economy and public services the Bill needs to be strengthened.”
Mr Robertson insisted that the calls from the Scottish business community should be heeded and claimed that real fiscal responsibility would a better alternative.
“The intervention, for example, of leading business men and women this week calling for real economic levers to sustain recovery and grow the economy must be listened to by the Tory Government. We should use this opportunity to look at the Bill and consider improvements such as devolving corporation tax to help business grow.”
“There is a better way for Scotland than the dismal decade of cuts coming from London. With real financial responsibility we can make Scotland better and our economy stronger.”
The Calman commission was set up by the three Holyrood Unionist parties in response to the SNP election win in 2007. The commission refused to consider independence and rejected full fiscal autonomy for Scotland saying that to grant such powers would undermine the Union.
Last week a group of influential business people issued a statement calling for fiscal autonomy for Scotland. The SNP have argued that the current tax powers proposed by the ConDem government and backed by Labour are detrimental to Scotland and that full fiscal autonomy is needed in order to grow the economy and protect jobs.
Leading academic Professor Andrew Hughes Hallett has also claimed that the tax powers as proposed by the Unionist parties are unworkable and that Scotland in fact subsidises London and would benefit from full fiscal powers.
Professor Hughes Hallett
Speaking on Tuesday night’s Newsnight Scotland First Minister Alex Salmond explained that the Calman package supported by the three Unionist parties was flawed in many areas and needed to be scrutinised. The same programme saw the Tory, Labour and Lib Dem spokespeople unite in favour of the package but unable to provide answers to key questions such as how they would address the scenario that could see the extra tax take from a growing Scottish economy flow to London leaving Scotland with less funds.
Newsnet Scotland has provided the clips from the programme for those who may not have seen them and may have relied on the derisory three minutes given over to the subject on BBC Scotland’s ‘flagship’ national news programme Reporting Scotland.
SNP – Salmond
Tory – Mundell
Lab – McNeill and Lib Dem – Brown