Westminster apartheid will harm Scots’ interests

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Tory proposals for ‘English Votes for English Laws’ is not only entirely incoherent but will lead to a constitutional shambles, riding roughshod as it does over the democratic rights of the Scottish people.

For good or ill, Scots rejected independence last September, the UK was retained and as such, Scottish MPs should be treated on an equal footing with their colleagues from the rest of the UK.

The creation of two types of MPs, with Scottish MPs treated as second class is, therefore, simply not tenable and further demonstrates that Westminster is not fit for purpose.

Should Scottish MPs, as the SNP have previously done, not vote at Westminster on issues already devolved to Scotland and which only relate to England then that is their choice.

However, it should be noted that many of these issues will impact on Scotland. In 2003, for example, SNP MPs voted against Foundation Hospitals in England on the basis that moves to privatise the NHS in England posed a threat to Scotland’s budget under the Barnett Formula.

And in 2004, SNP MPs voted against the introduction of university top-up fees in England, again because of the impact this would have on higher education institutions north of the Border.

The creation of two-tiers of MPs will put the Speaker in the invidious position of making a judgment on which legislation will have an impact on Scotland and which will not.

A simple solution to this for the Tories is the creation of an English Parliament, rather than the delivery of a constitutional dogs breakfast as currently proposed.

Alex Orr, Leamington Terrace, Edinburgh

Truth’s confusion over Named Parents Scheme

We are not sure why Patricia McKeever, editor of Catholic Truth, criticises secularists in her objection to The Named Person Scheme proposed for children (Letters, July 3).

Is she drawing a parallel with Catholic schools? The state should indeed be careful as to its boundaries in protecting children, especially from their parents, but it will and should step in when appropriate.

We would certainly disagree with Ms McKeever when it comes to children being taught unscientific ideas or discriminatory attitudes as part of their education, but her defence of “parents who wish to protect their children from being raised by strangers” is entirely reflected in our campaign to remove statutory religious worship from state schools.

We do not give joint custody of our children to religious ‘strangers’ in return for a state education.

Neil Barber, Edinburgh Secular Society, Saughtonhall Drive

Opposition to FFA is another Project Fear

If anything illustrates the need for Scottish self-determination, it was the sight of empty Tory and Labour benches during the House of Commons debates on the Scotland Bill.

English MPs then dutifully turned up to vote against the Scottish MPs who backed Full Fiscal Autonomy (FFA) by 56 votes to 3. Yet David Cameron wants to prevent Scottish MPs having a say on English matters.

Why the sole Green MP and Labour’s Ian Murray voted with Tories, preferring more austerity cuts, to the Scottish Parliament having the ‘near federalism’ as promised by Gordon Brown and all the London party leaders prior to the referendum beats me.

Opposition to FFA and comparisons to Greece is simply another version of Project Fear, as even without oil revenues Scotland would be a rich European country.

Last year the UK had a deficit of 5.7 per cent of GDP while the national debt soared to 89.4 per cent of national income, so if anything it is Britain that is the basket case. Britain has the third biggest budget deficit in Europe and the government is borrowing even more than Greece,

If we’re too poor, whose fault is it? It can’t be Scotland’s and can’t be the fault of independence. It’s the status quo that has brought about this state of affairs.

FFA gives Scots the economic levers to change their own country and borrowing controls would allow the deficit to be covered.

Even Iceland has recovered to the extent that in the latest United Nations World Happiness Index it was ranked second behind Switzerland and just ahead of Denmark and Norway for the best quality of life.

Calum Stewart, Montague Street, Edinburgh

Land and buildings tax is a fairer system

John Swinney’s new tax rates on Scottish property purchases certainly ramped up the property market with buyers keen to snap up homes before the Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT) came into effect in April.

Pushing property prices up by £9972 across Scotland, and £16,791 in Edinburgh, over the last 12 months looks like the property market has staged an incredible recovery.

However, this is only like to be temporary as now the tax is in force, there is likely to be a reduction in the number of homes sold above £750,000 as buyers would be liable for the top rate.

While critics believe LBTT rates are harsh, I believe it is a fairer and more modern way to tax compared to the old stamp duty, as not only it is more progressive as opposed to lump sum changes, but it’s reflective of today’s property market.

Graham White, Head of Sales, Braemore, Morningside Road

Edinburgh

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