Readers' letters: Secrecy is not good for Scots democracy

Ministers in the present devolved administration in Edinburgh have deemed ‘’it is not in the public interest’’ to reveal whether or not law officers have advised that a second independence referendum is within the powers of this devolved assembly.

I think that tells us all we need to know about what was advised and held back from public view. Does anyone really not believe that had it been a positive answer they would have been shouting it from the rooftops?

It is another perfect example of how the powers that be see things and the ingrained secrecy in Scotland today.

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We have the National Investment Bank leader suddenly leaving with not so much as a brief explanation. It is indeed a secret society in which we live these days.

The real irony is that this is all under the control of the party that promised openness and transparency in their dealings with the people of this country. And at the end of the day it is we the taxpayers who pay for the whole shebang.

Alexander McKay, Edinburgh.

Russian oligarchs’ rights protected

Russian oligarchs who own houses in Edinburgh and vast estates with shooting and salmon fishing rights in Scotland have absolutely nothing to fear from the Scottish Government, which has acquiesqued in the global free market in Scottish property since the Scottish parliament was established in 1999.

Sir John Sinclair, who compiled the 21 volume "Statistical Account of Scotland" at the end of the 18th century, stated that, "in no country in Europe are the rights of the proprietors as well defined and so carefully protected as in Scotland."

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The property of the oligarchs is fully protected under Scots Law.

Nicola Sturgeon and her government must be seen to be doing something about the oligarchs, but she will plead, as she usually does, that "we do not have the powers do do anything," thus ensuring that the oligarchs continue to enjoy their Scottish property and estates free from any interference.

What a dreadful message to send to the Ukrainians, that in Scotland it is "business as usual" for Russian oligarch money.

Jim Stewart, Musselburgh.

Cyclists led the way on road buiilding

Many motorists assume that roads were built for them. In fact, cars are the johnny-come-latelies of highways.

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The hard, flat road surfaces we take for granted are relatively new. Asphalt surfaces weren’t widespread outside of towns until the 1930s. So, are motorists to thank for this smoothness? No. The improvement of roads was first lobbied for – and paid for – by cycling organisations.

In the UK and the US, cyclists lobbied for better road surfaces for a full 30 years before motoring organisations did the same. Cyclists were ahead of their time.

By the early 1900s most British motorists had forgotten about the debt they owed to prehistoric track builders, the Romans, turnpike trusts, John McAdam, Thomas Telford and bicyclists.

Before even one road had been built with motor cars in mind, motorists assumed the mantle of overlords of the road.

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Coming to the argument of roadtax, cyclists do not pay ‘road tax’, nor do motorists. It’s Graduated Vehicle Excise Duty – or car tax – and is a charge on vehicular emissions, with the least polluting vehicles paying less or even nothing.

If cyclists were to pay VED, they would pay £0, the same as low emission cars. ‘Road tax’ was abolished in 1937.

Scott, Duddingston.

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