Readers' letters: Animal welfare should be devolved to Scotland

It should be good news that the Scottish Government is to replace the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) with the new Scottish Veterinary Service (SVS).

But only if the SVS is fully resourced and empowered to properly police all sectors of animal agriculture in Scotland. That means providing the SVS with its own transport to conduct unannounced inspections of salmon farms.

There are around 300 such farms and they are responsible for the suffering and death through illness, parasite infestation, avoidable injury and poor slaughter practises of perhaps well over a million fish every year.

The only evidence we have of this has been provided by whistleblowers and collected by activists who also fought lengthy Freedom of Information battles with the Scottish Government.

Despite many infringements of the Animal Health & Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006 by salmon farmers, not one case has been brought to court.

The Scottish Government might also want to ask Westminster to devolve the governance of animal welfare in Scottish research laboratories which are all still answerable to the Home Office in London.

John F Robins, Animal Concern.

Holyrood can act on cost of living crisis

A long line of SNP politicians have been commenting on the "cost of living crisis" in recent weeks, including highlighting the impact of the rise in National Insurance from April.

Why are none of them calling on the Scottish Government to lower the income tax rates? It is under its control and could be used to offset the rise in National Insurance.

I suspect it's a case if it being far easier to attack than act. If you're truly concerned, then cut the taxes you control now and put more money back in the pockets of Scottish taxpayers.

J Lewis, Edinburgh.

Pension critics miss Ros Altmann’s point

Jane Lax may dismiss SNP politicians on state pensions (letters, 15 February), but should at least pay attention to Baroness Ros Altmann, a former Tory pensions minister and leading UK pensions expert.

She tweeted on Monday that the “SNP state pension position is understandable. How can UK Government refuse to pay state pensions to people reaching state pension age after paying the required National Insurance contributions? If they live abroad their state pension is paid to them. We need to negotiate it all.”

Scotland’s taxation, that it raises itself, is currently enough to pay for all of the Scottish Government’s policy responsibilities, plus all of social security and all of pensions in a normal year.

Mary Thomas, Edinburgh.

SNP missed the boat on hospitality lifeline

The latest ONS figures show the impact harsher Covid restrictions are having on Scotland compared to the rest of the UK.

While employment rates across the whole of the UK increased by 0.9 per cent, employment in Scotland fell by 0.8 per cent in the last quarter of 2021.

Richard Lochhead, the SNP Employment Minister, may claim that they are doing all they can to build an economy of secure, sustainable and satisfying jobs, but the reality looks a whole lot different.

The hospitality industry has been decimated by the restrictions that were not lifted until after Christmas.

Not only can the SNP not build a boat, they missed the boat on giving hospitality the lifeline they needed to keep staff in post.

Jane Lax, Aberlour.

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