Do economist outweigh scientists?

Monday 7th February 2011
L2R: Professor Rod Cross, Professor Mike Danson, Dr Hervey Gibson, Dr John Houston (missing photography), Professor Andrew Hughes Hallett, Professor Neil Kay, Professor Douglas Mair, Dr Savvas Savouri, Professor Drew Scott, and Professor John Struthers

Plans to hand more tax and borrowing powers to Holyrood do not contain "real incentives or levers for economic growth," say a group of ten leading economist in an open letter. "There is a recognition by all four major political parties in Scotland for the need for greater fiscal responsibility and that the current budget system driven by the Barnett formula is fundamentally flawed." The economists express concerns that the Scotland Bill would not "deliver the critical levers that will make Scotland more competitive," "provide the platform for improved economic performance," nor "make politicians more accountable."

But will anyone pay any more attention to 10 top economists than they did to the 10 top scientists who urged and begged the establishment of Malvern as a National Laboratory for UK's quantum science and technology?

In a letter written to Herald and Scotsman newspapers and signed by Professor Rod Cross, Emeritus professor  University of Strathclyde, Professor Mike Danson University of the West of Scotland, Dr Hervey Gibson chairman, Cogent Strategies International, Dr John Houston, Scottish Economic Society and Glasgow Caledonian University, Professor Andrew Hughes Hallett, University of St Andrews and George Mason University, Professor Neil Kay Emeritus Professor of the University of Strathclyde, Professor Douglas Mair, Emeritus Professor of Heriot-Watt University, Doctor Savvas Savouri, chief Economist asset management Toscafund, Professor Drew Scott, University of Edinburgh and Professor John Struthers from University of the West of Scotland.

The Bill "contains flaws that will only further complicate Scotland's funding arrangement", they warn. Currently being scrutinised by Holyrood, the bill sets out plans to hand more control to Scotland on a variety of issues from tax-raising and borrowing powers to air gun legislation, drink-driving and the speed limit.

It  builds on the  Calman Commission recommendations set up by Unionist political parties to investigate how the devolution arrangements could be improved. It aims to provide the Scottish Government with £2.7bn borrowing powers, which could help fund large-scale projects such as a new crossing over the Firth of Forth. And it proposes giving Scottish ministers greater powers over income tax and control over some other taxes although there will be a reduction in the Scottish grant.

Alas, probably don't hold your breathe!

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