Commenting on the Queen’s Speech, Liz Cameron, Chief Executive of Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said:
“This Queen’s Speech is the first opportunity the new UK Government has to set out its stall for the next year and there are a number of proposed Bills that will be of significant interest to Scottish businesses.
On the Scotland Bill:
“Obviously the Scotland Bill will change the nature of the accountability of the Scottish Parliament by delivering significantly extended Scottish powers over tax and revenue. What is important for businesses is that these powers are used to support the investment that we are making to grow and to create high quality productive jobs in Scotland. There is a strong case for the UK Government to devolve Air Passenger Duty immediately thus allowing the Scottish Government to cut it and enabling Scottish airports to better compete internationally for new routes and services. This would help businesses to reduce costs and help develop our global connectivity as we look to build international trading opportunities.
“We would hope that the political debate over further devolution for Scotland as this Bill progresses focuses on the pressing need to support business and grow our economy. These should the priorities for all of Scotland’s politicians in the months ahead.”
On the European Union Referendum Bill:
“There is an important debate ahead on the nature of our relationship with the European Union. This is the principal overseas market for many Scottish businesses, with almost £13 billion in exports heading to Europe from Scotland each year. With a population of over half a billion people across 28 nations, it is important that we maintain strong trading links to Europe whilst addressing some of the more negative and restrictive aspects of EU membership, such as hindering our local businesses from winning public sector contracts.
“Between now and the referendum, Scottish Chambers of Commerce will be undertaking extensive research with businesses across Scotland to gauge business attitudes toward EU membership. The views of businesses will be important in order to properly inform the public debate on our future with Europe and the economic opportunities of leaving or reforming the EU will require to be articulated.”