Letters: Scots could have less power than Welsh

Holyrood must alter tax bands by the same amount. Picture: Neil Hanna
Holyrood must alter tax bands by the same amount. Picture: Neil Hanna
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The announcement by David Cameron and Nick Clegg that Wales is to be offered new tax and borrowing powers should be a concern to those in Scotland seeking more powers for the Scottish Parliament, short of independence.

Welsh income tax powers, proposed last year by the Silk Commission, will have significant implications for Scotland. If passed by a future referendum, Cardiff Bay’s powers will be greater than Holyrood’s on income tax.

Wales will be able to set variable rates across most or all tax bands while Scotland’s powers are heavily circumscribed, because Holyrood must raise or lower all the main tax bands by the same amount – it has no flexibility at present to cut lower rates and rise higher rates. This makes it a clumsy fiscal tool.

Prime Minister Cameron has pledged that a substantial increase in financial powers will not be coming to the Scottish Parliament should independence be rejected, and the Labour Party has still to put forward any solid proposals, with the ones floated paltry fare when compared with the Welsh example.

In addition, should these proposals be forthcoming there is no guarantee they will in fact ever see the light of day. One only has to remember 1979 and the call by the Tories to reject the Scottish Assembly with the promise that they would introduce something better.

As it stands, Scots will be going into the polling booths on September 18, 2014 with the prospect, should independence be rejected, of a Parliament which will have less power than the Assembly in Cardiff.

Alex Orr, Leamington Terrace, Edinburgh

What happens when wind doesn’t blow?

During a fierce debate on energy in Holyrood, Alex Salmond said he had been warned by regulator the Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem) that energy blackouts could cripple the UK next winter as demand threatens to outstrip supply.

Never one to miss a chance to put one over on the English, he claimed: “One of the benefits Scotland would gain on independence is that we have a 20 per cent margin of supply over demand and we would be delighted to sell them our renewable electricity.”

No mention of what will happen when the wind does not blow due to a cold weather front or blows too strongly and his beloved subsidised wind turbines do not turn a blade.

Will he accept electricity tainted by coal, gas and nuclear from England?

No mention that on independence Scotland would have to pay for the enormous subsidies on Scottish turbines which at present are paid through the energy bills of the whole of the UK.

The English and Welsh governments and people would refuse to further subsidise an independent Scotland.

Clark Cross, Springfield Road, Linlithgow

Our traditions came in a different guise

Neil Barber (Platform, October 30) in his rather dour piece on Hallowe’en plainly knows little of Scots traditions, particularly those long known to us brought up in the country in days not long gone by.

Scots kids traditionally “dooked” for apples, pictured left, ate toffee apples, went to the “shows” (fun fair), made turnip lanterns (pumpkins are an American import Mr Barber, don’t you know that?) and went out “guising” in fancy dress round local houses where they received nuts and sweets and recited a poem or sang a song.

It was all very innocent, had nothing to do with the occult, and was loved and enjoyed as a tradition by generations of Scots kids.

The American pumpkin and trick-or-treat commercialised event which he describes is purely a recent American import, foreign to Scotland.

Gus Logan, York Road, North Berwick

Free permits would end parking woes

When is the city council going to admit that residents’ parking charges are an unfair tax on some motorists?

There is no need to charge residents to park. In order to keep non-residents from fly parking, all the council has to do is make the areas pay and display and give the residents permits free of charge.

Adam McMinn, Edinburgh

Witness to a miracle of generous giving

I HAVE just lived through a miracle, a miracle of common purpose, a miracle of community spirit, a miracle of giving.

With feelings of excitement and anxiety we awaited the opening day of the North East Edinburgh Foodbank on October 21.

Would the community support our venture? Or would we come up against a wall of weariness as people looked inwards in these difficult times, so forgetting to help those in the community, whose circumstances have defeated them?

I should have known better.

The food donations from the churches, Bethany, the community and the schools have overwhelmed us.

I stand in the warehouse while around me volunteers sort and date the donations.

The load of food grows, the sense of optimism flourishes and we are ready to play our part.

My deepest gratitude to all who have contributed.

Stewart Lowe, Leith