while opposition parties have lined up to attack the SNP Government over proposals to cut Air Passenger Duty (APD), what has been omitted are the clear economic benefits.
UK APD is the most expensive tax of its kind in Europe and profoundly impacts on Scotland, acting as a barrier to our ability to secure new direct international services and to maintain existing ones.
The reduction and ultimate abolition of APD in Scotland will have two key impacts - first, some international routes which are currently marginal and therefore not flown, are likely to become viable. Second, there is likely to be a price reduction for the consumer on domestic flying and the real possibility of additional frequencies.
Research indicates that halving APD will create nearly 4000 jobs and add £1bn to the Scottish economy by 2020. Without action, Scotland could lose out on nearly one million passengers every year, costing the Scottish economy up to £68 million in lost tourism every year.
One need only look to Ireland to see the effect scrapping APD has had, with tourist traffic rising by almost 10 per cent since APD was abolished in April 2014 and the VAT received from the additional tourist spend far exceeding the loss of APD.
APD is a tax on Scotland’s ability to compete with the rest of Europe, and our economy is footing the bill in lost jobs and lost opportunities. Addressing this will prove key advantages for both passengers and the Scottish economy in general.
Alex Orr, Leamington Terrace, Edinburgh
The 30th Loony Dook proves another success
As one who has been closely involved with every Loony Dook held in South Queensferry since 1 January 1987, I’d like to congratulate everyone involved in the organising of this year’s milestone event which celebrated the 30th anniversary of what is now one of Edinburgh’s Hogmanay’s most popular attractions.
All the team from Unique Events, CEC, G4S, St Andrews Ambulance, Police Scotland and South Queensferry RNLI deserve the highest praise for the smooth operation and for ensuring the safety and relative comfort of more than 1000 dookers and many more enthusiastic supporters who converged on our town for this iconic and world-famous event.
I am certain that everyone thoroughly enjoyed their day in Queensferry and we all look forward to the 31st Loony Dook on 1 January, 2017.
David M Steel, Springfield Terrace, South Queensferry
UK medics should serve for their training
The media have highlighted the problem of a lack of medical staff in the UK, but much of the fault lies with the fact that the NHS goes to the expense of training our doctors, only for many to leave the country once qualified.
There is a similar problem with nurses, that once they are trained, many go straight into agency work.
There needs to be a contract whereby if they are given training here, then they have to stay with the NHS for a certain number of years.
Elaine Pomeransky, Restalrig Gardens, Edinburgh
Moral attitudes play larger role than poverty
Oliver Letwin was right about one thing: ‘bad moral attitudes’ are a factor in the gratuitous violence and wanton destruction that rioting entails.
Of course, the dominant liberal progressive view is that unemployment, slum housing and poor education overwhelm people’s capacity to exercise free will, directly causing rioting. Thus the perpetrators are absolved of personal and collective moral responsibility.
Mr Letwin was merely stating the obvious when he pointed out that not every group of people responds identically to a given set of circumstances, depending on the dominant values shared among a community. Different communities have different moral cultures.
I have no wish to defend any of Mr Letwin’s particular comments about black culture in the 1980s, but criticising the moral values and attitudes of a section of society can be valid, so long as the temptation to over-generalise is resisted.
Attitude and values often have more of an impact on a person’s life chances and well-being than wealth or privilege, yet the political left insist on reducing every problem to their ubiquitous ultimate cause: poverty.
Richard Lucas, Broomyknowe, Colinton, Edinburgh
Faith and evidence are unlikely bedfellows
In his letter (December 31) Gus Logan coins the sophomoric argument that an inability to disprove god’s existence makes non-belief a comparable faith position. We can’t disprove the existence of fairies either but that doesn’t mean it’s 50/50.
It is incumbent on he who is suggesting the existence of an invisible supernatural being to present the evidence.
He claims that my objection to The Prime Minister, a public servant, using his platform to promote his personal religious views means I must be an atheist, for who other than an atheist would object to the imposition of Christianity throughout all of our society?
He cites David Hume, with whom I do have something in common in that I studied philosophy at Edinburgh University and have Christian friends.
None of them have ever insisted that their world view should be the default position of the state.
Neil Barber, Edinburgh Secular Society, Saughtonhall Drive