Sir Tom Hunter calls for “full fiscal toolbox”

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by a Newsnet reporter

The SNP has called on the UK Government to listen to the call from Sir Tom Hunter to hand over more fiscal autonomy for Scotland.

Speaking on BBC Good Morning Scotland, Mr Hunter said: “I believe in more fiscal autonomy for Scotland. [The current situation] doesn’t give the Scottish Government all the tools and the toolbox it needs to stimulate growth.”

He added: “I really do believe we need both sides of the equation.  We need both sides of this fiscal toolbox.”

Mr Hunter added that the best way to promote economic growth was for the government to embark on large construction projects to give a boost to the economy and create jobs whilst improving infrastructure.  

The Unionist parties have refused to consider full fiscal autonomy, insisting that the proposals in the Scotland Bill must be implemented.  Labour leadership candidate Tom Harris MP recently dismissed full fiscal autonomy out of hand, claiming that the idea was unworkable as it would fundamentally alter the way the whole of the UK was governed.  

The Conservative Scotland Office minister David Mundell has also ruled out full fiscal autonomy.  Mr Mundell said recently that full fiscal autonomy was a “fallacy”, adding: “There is no third way.  The only choice is between separatism and remaining in the United Kingdom.”

Michael Moore, the Lib Dem Scotland Secretary, has also refused to allow a question on full fiscal autonomy in the planned referendum.  Like his Conservative colleague, Mr Moore claims that the Scottish people want a clear yes-no choice on independence or remaining within the Union on the terms set by the Westminster parties.

Reacting to Mr Hunter’s remarks on the Good Morning Scotland programme, SNP MSP John Wilson, Deputy Convenor of the Scottish Parliament’s Economy committee, said:

“These are more welcome comments from Sir Tom and it’s time the UK Government sat up and listened.

“How much longer does Scotland have to ask for borrowing powers and devolution of corporation tax until Westminster finally heeds the calls?

“As Sir Tom says Scotland needs both sides of the financial equation to be able to do what is best for this country.

“He also said construction projects were the best way to get a country out of the ‘economic doldrums’.  This is exactly what the SNP is doing, with a growth strategy prioritising capital investment.

“The UK Government may have decided to ignore the Scottish Parliament, but perhaps they will listen to Scotland’s leading entrepreneur, reverse their damaging cuts policy and instead enact a Plan B by investing in the economy.

“But most of all Westminster must listen to the people of Scotland who want more fiscal powers to give us all the tools we need to create a strong and prosperous nation.”