Scotland’s in rebellious mood

Most of it, it has to be said, is being driven by ICAS, which is extremely
and understandably put out by the decision of the ICAEW and CIPFA to name their
merged body ‘the Institute of Chartered Accountants’. While Moorgate Place and
the public sector body are trying to style the row as a sideshow, it is
threatening to overshadow the main event.

Last week, ICAS closed a scheme offering CIPFA members fast-track membership.
Of course, the Scots sought to distance themselves from any suggestion that this
was in any way related to the row over the new institute name. (Chief executive
Des Hudson said that, when the course was first offered to CIPFA members, ‘the
accountancy landscape was very different’.)

But the timing can hardly be viewed as entirely coincidental, especially when
ICAS followed that move by announcing motions had been tabled at Westminster and
the Scottish parliament opposing the proposed name.

The deputy leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats and ICAS member, Michael
Moore MP, tabled an early-day motion at Westminster, calling for the ICAEW and
CIPFA to ‘maintain the unbroken convention that chartered accountancy institutes
carry a geographical designation in their name’.

Brian Monteith MSP, Conservative member for mid-Scotland and Fife, and
convener of Holyrood’s audit committee, said he was confident that his motion
north of the border would attract cross-party support.

All this followed the announcement by the first minister of Scotland, Jack
McConnell, that he was backing ICAS and intended to officially object to the
Privy Council about the proposal. Accountancy institutes as far as India,
Australia and New Zealand have also voiced their concerns.

Where do we go from here? Well, nowhere if the institutes don’t manage to
persuade two-thirds of their memberships to endorse the merger. If they do, the
stage is set for a real humdinger of a battle that is unlikely to reflect well
on the profession.

Discussions continue but both sides have set out their stalls so very
publicly that it’s hard to see an alternative to a protracted legal battle to
determine the name of the institute. The only other option seems to be a u-turn
by one party and that looks increasingly unlikely.


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