It was intriguing to note the speech by Mark Carney, Governor of the ‘independent’ Bank of England, on the issue of the UK’s membership of the European Union.
Lord Lawson, who heads the Conservatives for Britain Group, which is campaigning for the UK’s exit from the EU, accused the Governor of “wading into a political debate”.
Mr Carney’s comments on the UK and the EU were, however, a lot less forthright than those he made in the run-up to the Scottish independence referendum, when he questioned the compatibility of a currency union with sovereignty.
The tamer approach taken by Mr Carney on the EU issue is clearly intriguing, as the impact of a UK withdrawal from the EU would be more hard-felt in the UK than Scottish independence.
It is also rather strange that Lord Lawson is critical of Mr Carney’s ‘political’ intervention in the EU debate but did not raise his concerns over the intervention of Mr Carney in the Scottish independence referendum.
This latest intervention by Mr Carney raises the issue of the remit of the Bank of England, which is ‘to maintain price stability’ and ‘support the economic policy of [the government], including its objectives for growth and employment’.
Leading on from this there clearly needs to be a broader debate about the ‘true’ independence of the Bank of England and whether it is breaching its remit on entering into political debates such as these.
Alex Orr, Leamington Terrace, Edinburgh
Brittan case raises fears for Police Scotland
The evidence of detective chief inspector Paul Settle to the House of Commons’ home affairs committee should trouble us all in Scotland.
Mr Settle gave evidence that the case against Lord Brittan ‘fell at the first hurdle’, but that as a result of an intervention by Tom Watson MP, his superiors in the Metropolitan Police were thrown into a ‘state of panic’ and immediately ordered that the terminally ill peer be questioned.
If an opposition politician can have this effect on such a major police force, how much more susceptible must Police Scotland be to political pressure from the Scottish Government? Of course, some believe that the single police force was created for precisely that reason.
Evidence of the Scottish Government’s authoritarian tendencies and contempt for civil liberties is all too plentiful. The most egregious example is the Named Person Scheme, under which every family in Scotland is to be spied on and every parent treated as a suspect.
Attempts to abolish corroboration in criminal trials, which has long protected us from miscarriages of justice, are another example.
The creation of Police Scotland was a mistake. If we value our liberty, we must re-establish regional constabularies, each with its own chief constable and accountable to its own elected police board.
Otto Inglis, Inveralmond Grove, Edinburgh
Safe cycling needs more than just routes
People clearly want to cycle. Sustrans’ survey found that 74 per cent of Edinburgh residents want to see more investment in cycling infrastructure, which is why I welcome the Scottish Government’s latest commitment to spend £3.3m on such projects.
That said, road safety for both cyclists and walkers depends on shifting our road culture away from cars and rebalancing it to include active travellers. This can only be achieved through a combination of infrastructure improvements and legislative change.
As is evident on the Continent, liability laws that favour the most vulnerable road users have been instrumental in creating a culture of road share, and importantly our European neighbours have achieved high levels of safe active travel as a result.
Active travel needs support, but infrastructure alone isn’t the way to road safety.
Brenda Mitchell, Cycle Law Scotland, Castle Street, Edinburgh
Fraser gets sums wrong on Scottish budget
So Fraser Grant thinks that the Scottish government’s underspend of £400 million “represents a mere 0.012% of the Scottish Government’s fixed(?) annual budget”. The annual budget, therefore, is £3,333,000,000,000 (Letters, October 22).
If only. Let’s have no more letters from Fraser Grant; he’s obviously away with the other SNP fairies.
Neil Mackenzie, Grange Loan, Edinburgh
Council tax rise can help save redundancies
I don’t think we could realistically complain if council tax was increased by 3% having been frozen for almost seven years.
Such an increase would go a long way to preserving services and, in consequence, protecting jobs within Edinburgh City Council.
Voluntary redundancy is the only viable way to accommodate such an offer. There can be no doubt that the council has in the past spent recklessly. However, one would like to think lessons have been learned and any increase would be put to good use.
George Fairgrieve, Morningside, Edinburgh
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