Letters: Another chance missed to build construction industry

The redirection of additional public funds towards direct capital investment in the autumn statement is hugely welcome, particularly at a time when the Scottish construction industry continues to suffer reduced output and weak confidence.

But the release of these funds places an even greater onus on policy makers at Holyrood to implement urgent reforms to our constipated public procurement system so this money can put more shovels in the ground as quickly as possible.

In addition, the Chancellor could have given a far greater boost to smaller building companies in particular if he’d cut VAT on building repairs and improvements as the industry has long campaigned for him to do. From that point of view, the Autumn Statement was another missed opportunity for more radical action to get the building industry back on its feet.

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Michael Levack, chief executive, Scottish Building Federation, Edinburgh

Shale shall avail us of fuel lifeline

George Osborne has quite rightly defied the green zealots and given the go-ahead for shale gas exploration. This means that up to 40 gas-fired power stations could be built over the next 20 years to use this wealth beneath our feet.

This would reduce our reliance on imported gas from volatile regions and give industry an economic lifeline.

Alex Salmond will not be at all pleased since he boasted he would sell expensive wind electricity to England and they would be eternally grateful.

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Add to this equation that a connector is being built through the Channel Tunnel to link cheap French nuclear electricity to England and it would appear that Salmond has been outmanoeuvred.

Mr Salmond’s excessive wind electricity cannot be sold so will he now stop any further wind farm developments which only make foreign developers and suppliers rich and rich landowners even richer?

Clark Cross, Springfield Road, Linlithgow

Hypocrisy from Treasury chief

Chief Secretary of the Treasury, Danny Alexander, has declared his disgust at Starbucks coffee chain for failing in its “moral duty” to pay business taxes in the UK. He is so upset by this iniquity that he has decided to boycott the firm.

Accustomed as I am to endemic hypocrisy among politicians, I’m nevertheless stunned by this shameless posturing. This is the same Mr Alexander who gained £37,000 in parliamentary expenses by listing his London flat as his second home.

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However, he declared the same flat to HMRC as his main residence in order to avoid capital gains tax when he sold it. All legal and above board, as we should expect an MP’s behaviour to be. It’s clearly tax avoidance, though, so surely immoral?

But the same legality applies to the tax avoidance measures employed by Starbucks, Amazon and Google, who also have a proper duty to maximise profit for their shareholders.

If politicians are too lazy or inept to arrange effective legislation they can’t blame anyone for taking advantage of the resulting situation.

Robert Dow, Ormiston Road, Tranent

England in same EU boat as Scots

Scotland’s current membership of the European Union is as part of the United Kingdom. When Scotland becomes independent, the UK will no longer exist. If Scotland has to re-apply for EU membership then, by the same token, so will England and Wales.

Peter Swain, Innerwick, Dunbar

Jealous hordes would pitch tents

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So Brussels threatens us with automatic exclusion from the EU if we vote to become an independent nation, and those economic giants Cyprus and Spain say that they would oppose our re-admission.

Like many others I am genuinely undecided on the issue of separation, but such interventions help concentrate the mind, don’t they? For the first time I can see a positive benefit of voting with the “Aye” camp.

Proper independence – independence from both Westminster and Brussels – is something we could make work, but I’m worried about the huge tented refugee camps on the Border we will have to build to accommodate hundreds of thousands of UKIP refugees from the South.

David Fiddimore, Calton Road, Edinburgh