LETTERS: Tax-raising powers first step to Scottish control

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ComplainTs that the Scotland Bill gives the Scottish Parliament little power over the setting of income tax, with the rate at the higher levels linked to that at the lowest level, is constantly repeated in the press.

While this statement is true, it is certainly misleading. The crucial point is that this is a preliminary stage in the devolution of tax-raising powers.

In April 2017 new taxation powers will be given to Scotland giving the Scottish Parliament total control over the rates and thresholds of all non-savings and non-dividend income.

Surely it is entirely reasonable that additional tax raising powers are transferred to Scotland gradually in order to ensure a smooth transition from the old system to the new system.

We also need to address the fact that Scotland is sinking lower and lower in international educational league tables. In particular, the performance of our schoolchildren is now worse than those south of the Border.

Clearly there is much to be done. We should, therefore, use our additional powers to ensure that the poor in Scotland are able to reach their full potential. The choice is ours.

John Higinbotham, Bruntsfield Gardens, Edinburgh

Kezia’s bold tax rise alternative to cuts

Kezia Dugdale’s progressive and bold tax policy is a test for former Labour voters who now back the SNP.

These are not the intransigents that want independence at any cost, but people who simply want Scotland to be a fairer country to work, live and bring up children.

I find it hard to believe that this latter group will choose to back SNP cuts to schools when there is a fair and progressive alternative.

Dr Scott Arthur, Buckstone Gardens, Edinburgh

Bullfighter reckless to put daughter at risk

Having set out to torture and kill bulls for a living, Francisco Rivera Ordóñez clearly believes hurting and killing others is inconsequential, proving it in spades when he added his own child to those whose very lives he plays with and showing that he is not fit to be a parent.

For a child, being forced to watch a bullfight can be traumatic. In fact, the United Nation’s Committee on the Rights of the Child recommended that children not attend or participate in bullfighting events because of the extreme violence. His decision to deliberately risk a baby’s life to gain attention for himself shows what this bullfighter is made of, and it’s not the same thing a good dad is made of.

He and all bullfighters are sociopaths who should be put out of business and put into therapy.

Calum Proctor, All Saints Street, London

SNP looks two ways on the same issue

I struggle to come to terms with the contradictory stances of the SNP regarding staying in the EU and breaking away from the rest of the UK.

As far as the EU is concerned the SNP wants Scotland to stay in for trade, jobs and freedom to travel without visas. Scotland exports about £13billion of goods and services to the EU.

SNP decision? Stay in the EU.

Scotland as part of the UK benefits from free access to the whole UK market, a common regulatory framework, integrated supply chains and a highly flexible labour market.

As a result, Scottish companies trade more goods and services with the rest of the UK than with the rest of the world, exporting £36 billion of goods and services to the rest of the UK.

Flexible labour movement between Scotland and the rest of the UK allows businesses to recruit the best people from across the whole of the UK, and the benefits of being in the UK have made Scotland an attractive destination for foreign investment.

SNP decision? Leave the UK asap.

Odd isn’t it? Perhaps someone from the SNP could offer a sensible and pragmatic explanation.

Donald Lewis, Gifford, East Lothian

South Suburban line faces a long delay

Every so often the proposal to reopen the South Suburban Railway for passenger use is raised, this time for tram/trains. Jim Eadie’s piece (News, January 2) made interesting reading, but at least for the time being it will be shelved with all the rest of the previous plans.

Apart from the physical obstacles, heavy freight use and passenger diversions, dual voltage, platform capacity, etc, new rolling stock would be required and the stations would all have to be rebuilt.

Unlike the Sheffield scheme funded by the UK Government, who would fund the Edinburgh proposal? Certainly not the SNP, and the council’s plans are well known - extend the trams to Newhaven, introduce hybrid and electric buses.

Still, a bold and imaginative initiative, Mr Eadie, one for the future perhaps? And it is good to see a SNP member a rail enthusiast, unlike his colleagues.

George Ritchie, North Gyle Terrace, Edinburgh

Time to remove bishops from government

We were delighted to learn that a petition to remove bishops from the House of Lords has gained over 10,000 signatures which means the government is now obliged to respond.

Religious believers now account for only a half of all British citizens: Christians are a subset of those and Church of England a further even smaller subset.

The only other developed country in the world which has unelected religious clerics sitting in government is Iran.

Neil Barber, Edinburgh Secular Society, Saughtonhall Drive