LETTERS: Labour in Scotland is economically illiterate

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John Higinbotham is under an illusion if he thinks the Scotland Bill proposals will allow the Scottish Parliament to really tackle poverty (Letters, November 3).

Labour in Scotland is economically illiterate when they claim that not cutting Air Passenger Duty (APD) would release millions to pay for replacing tax credit cuts, because when APD is devolved the Scottish block grant will be reduced by an equivalent amount.

Also Ms Kezia Dugdale is less than honest when she fails to point out that under the limited Scotland Bill provisions, any increase in the highest income tax means that all tax bands have to be increased by a proportionate amount.

Apart from the fact that constitutional experts such as Prof Alan Trench have pointed out that there are no devolved legislative powers to restore tax credit cuts which are administered by the DWP, financial experts reckon that only £8 million a year would be raised from those paying the 50p tax to mitigate the loss of some £440 million for lower paid working families in Scotland.

Therefore, it’s a great pity that Ian Murray and other Labour MPs merely abstained on July 20, rather than vote against the tax credit cuts and voted against substantial economic and welfare powers being devolved to the Scottish Parliament.

It is clear that Labour still haven’t a clue over Scotland’s finances as their tax and welfare plans can’t be delivered under the promised ‘Vow’ in 2017 and clearly not until such time as we have full fiscal autonomy or a proper federal system or independence.

Fraser Grant, Warrender Park Road, Edinburgh

Most Euro cities charge hotel tax - why not us?

What utter rubbish Martin Hannan writes concerning a levy on hotel occupation at peak times (News, November 3).

To say that ‘hard-pressed’ visitors will be unable or unwilling to pay this small levy on top of their hotel bill is nonsense when you consider the inflated hotel rates charged at this time of year.

As has been mentioned ad infinitum, most cities in Europe charge a city tax, not just on the total bill, but per person per night of their stay. Does this deter visitors to Rome, Amsterdam, Barcelona or Prague? Thought not.

High time we followed their example. Maybe then with that income we wouldn’t be hearing scary stories of council redundancies and pot-holes not being repaired.

Anne Forrest, Bellevue Road, Edinburgh

The SNP tax policies are mirroring UK Tories

Well done Kezia Dugdale and Scottish Labour for promising to reverse the Tory cuts to tax credits.

Austerity is a choice, not a necessity, these cuts are not needed to deal with the budget deficit.

The proposed increase in the top rate of income tax, from 45% to 50%, on taxable income above £150,000, is right, so that the burden is shared more fairly, and also shows they are on the side of working families and the lowest paid.

What a contrast to the SNP, whose tax policies are beginning to resemble the Tories’.

The cut in Air Passenger Duty will benefit those who can afford to buy air tickets and particularly companies.

John Swinney’s proposal to give councils the power to cut business rates is exactly what the Tories are doing south of the Border.

Phil Tate, Craiglockhart Road, Edinburgh

Scotland can’t opt out of GM rule without UK

In August Richard Lochhead announced that the Scottish Government intends to take advantage of new EU rules allowing countries to opt out of growing EU-authorised GM crops. Since then, this proposed ban has been widely discussed in the media.

However, the new EU rules, contained in Directive (EU) 2015/412, do not allow the Scottish Government to introduce such a ban.

The operative part of the directive states: “During the authorisation procedure of a given GMO or during the renewal of consent/authorisation, a member state may demand that the geographical scope of the written consent or authorisation be adjusted to the effect that all or part of the territory of that member state is to be excluded from cultivation.”

Contrary to the claim by the Scottish Government, the Directive does not provide for devolved administrations to ban GM crops, but only member states. Since Scotland is not a member state, the Scottish Government would have to persuade the UK Government to apply a ban on their behalf.

Andrew Wilson, Waterfront Avenue, Edinburgh

Watch out for your pets on bonfire night

This November 5, please remember that for cats and dogs, Bonfire Night might seem more like The War of the Worlds than a traditional celebration.

Noisy fireworks displays are often frightening to animals, who don’t realise that the explosions are meant to be entertainment, so people should take precautions to make sure that their animals stay safe and comfortable at home.

When startled, dogs can panic and try to flee. They may jump over fences, and some have even been known to jump through plate-glass windows to get away from the terrifying sounds.

Many cats, dogs and other animals are taken to animal shelters with bloody paws and torn skin.

Make sure you stay inside with your companion animals. Close windows and curtains to help muffle the noise of the fireworks, and turn on the TV or a radio to help drown out the sound.

Jennifer White, National Council for Voluntary Organisations, London