The Liberal Democrat leader in Scotland, Tavish Scott, and the former head of the Scottish Trades Union Congress, Campbell Christie , both write pieces in today's Sunday Papers backing greater economic powers for the Scottish parliament than were suggested by The Calman Commission. Things have moved on since my piece last week on Calman's shortcomings. The entreprenuer Dan MacDonald also speaks in favour of fiscal responsibility. The new coalition government has promised to examine Calman, and Tavish Scott invites the SNP to join the committee discussing the way forward. I am confident they will do so. We need the best possible settlement. Calman was a compromise engineered by the last Labour government who put party before national interest. The Liberal Democrats own policy was always more radical - transfer control of all income and corporate taxes, perhaps even oil revenue, to Holyrood.
Campbell Christie, who is now directing the regeneration of the Raploch housing scheme in Stirling, believes - along with businessmen such as Macdonald andJim McColl - having power to set a wide variety of taxes will allow us to grow the Scottish economy. This is the only way we will be able to ride the recession and ensure quality public services remain in place. I hope others from the trade union movement and the third sector follow his lead. Fiscal power is needed to benefit the poor and vulnerable as well. Here is a short extract from Campbell's article in the Sunday Herald.
"I believe the time has come for Scotland's government to be given control over the majority of taxes that are levied in Scotland, including income tax and corporation tax, along with the power to borrow to ensure that we, as a country, continue to invest in those activities that will achieve our long- term economic success. Although Scotland is an integral part of the wider UK economy, in my view it is sufficiently distinctive to require economic policies - a central element of which is tax policies - that are different to those that may be appropriate for other parts of the UK. And while the Calman Commission started down this track, the changed economic circumstances mean that we must now progress much further and much faster.
It is difficult to overstate the severity of the challenges that lie ahead for our economy and our society. It is incumbent upon us all to ensure that the weakest and most vulnerable in our society do not once again bear the devastating costs of an economic crisis that was certainly not their making. I am convinced that giving Scotland's government control over the main fiscal levers of economic policy is essential if our economy is to grow faster, if unemployment is to be minimised, and if our vital public services retained as we all wish these to be. I believe that now is the time for the Scottish Parliament to take the next vital step in its growing maturity. The time now has come for Scotland's devolved administration to be given the type of fiscal responsibility it needs to ensure that our economic health as a country can be restored as quickly as possible."