Pressure on Unionist alliance as third business leader calls for more powers


By a Newsnet reporter
Calls for even more powers for the Scottish Parliament were amplified today after Sir Tom Hunter became the third leading figure from the business sector to claim Scotland needed more fiscal levers.
The leading entrepreneur was speaking at the Business in Parliament event this morning, when he said “We in Scotland need fiscal responsibility.  Quite simply, we need to be responsible for what we raise in tax and what we spend in tax.

“I don’t know if we need independence yet.  I’m still waiting to hear both sides of the argument.  Hopefully, we won’t have to wait too long.  But I do know that we need to have that debate.”

Sir Tom has joined namesake Sir Tom Farmer who recently spoke out in favour of fiscal autonomy for Scotland and Clyde Blowers Billionaire Jim McColl who also called for more economic powers to be devolved to Holyrood.

Both men have suggested that if Devo-Max is not an option on the ballot paper they may opt for full independence instead.

The calls will put further pressure on the anti-independence parties to explain what they will be campaigning for in the 2014 referendum. 

All three Unionist parties – Labour, Conservative and Lib Dems – have signalled support for more powers for Scotland if Scots vote No in the independence referendum, but as yet neither has defined exactly what new powers they will devolve.
Sir Tom also vindicated the SNP Government’s campaign for an immediate release of capital funding to support shovel-ready projects, emphasising the huge importance that capital investment plays in economy recovery:
“We have never emerged from a recession that has not been construction-led.  We need to drive stimulus into our economy – not squeeze it out of it”, he said.
Speaking after Sir Tom’s speech, SNP MSP Chic Brodie, a member of the Scottish Parliament’s Economy Committee, commented:
“This is yet another of Scotland’s leading businessmen making quite clear that the status quo is holding Scotland back.
“Only last week both Tom Farmer and Jim McColl made similar comments based on their own significant personal experience, and even suggested they may vote for independence if there was no devo-max option on the referendum ballot paper.
“The full fiscal levers of any normal nation would allow us to target support for our key growth industries and maximise the potential of Scotland’s vast natural and human resources.
“Like many Scots, Sir Tom Hunter is looking forward to a real debate on the benefits of independence.  If the anti-independence parties continue to offer nothing other than outright opposition to independence, their message is going to continue to be a very bleak and negative one which will not inspire support.”