Devolution minister pledges to listen to business

Scottish devolution minister Henry McLeish has moved to calm business fears over the separation process, assuring delegates at ACCA Scotland’s annual business lecture they will have a say in the running of the Scottish parliament.

His move came as ACCA Scotland appointed a lobbyist to handle its relationship with the Edinburgh parliament. Accountants and other business professionals have voiced fears that devolution may drive business away from Scotland.

Particular concerns have been voiced over extra taxation which could be imposed by the new parliament when it starts operating next year.

But McLeish, minister for home affairs, devolution and local government, assured the 100 business representatives at the lecture that the new parliament would be listening hard to the business community.

Groups such as ACCA, he said, would be able to get involved in a pre-legislative process which would give them more involvement in the development of new laws than they had in Westminster.

‘What we are trying to do is to give organisations such as ACCA a role,’ he added.

McLeish assured delegates that a Scottish parliament would not want to place business in Scotland at a competitive disadvantage by burdening it with higher taxes than the rest of the UK.

He added: ‘The Scottish parliament will give Scotland a considerably higher profile. This can be capitalised on to project positive images of “Scotland the Brand” which, in turn, should help promote Scottish products and the image of Scotland as a desirable place to invest.’

ACCA Scotland has geared up to play a part in the new political environment with the creation of a new post, head of ACCA Scotland. Wylie Cunningham, previously the Road Haulage Association’s regional director for Scotland and Northern Ireland, has been appointed to the role.

ACCA has charged Cunningham with building and developing its relationships with key decision-makers and the Scottish parliament, to give the association a louder voice in Scottish government affairs.

He said: ‘There is a major change with the onset of the Scottish parliament next year. There is a need to develop the profile of ACCA in Scotland.’

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