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Tuesday, 25 September, 2001, 17:58 GMT 18:58 UK
Liddell calls for 'cool heads'
Airline check-in queue
There are fears tourism will suffer a major downturn
Scottish Secretary Helen Liddell has called for "cool heads" as Scotland waits to see the economic impact of the US terror attacks.

Mrs Liddell said there was a danger politicians and pundits could talk the Scottish economy into crisis.

The minister was speaking after a meeting with First Minister Henry McLeish and UK Trade and Industry Secretary Patricia Hewitt.

Possible responses to the economic effect on tourism, aviation and financial services were discussed by the ministers.

Helen Liddell
Helen Liddell had talks with the First Minister

But Mrs Liddell emerged from the talks defiant, saying the Chancellor's strategy since coming to power, had been to build a stable economy, which could withstand international pressures.

The minister added she was confident the economy would withstand the current pressures.

She said: "This is a time for calmness and indeed those who loose their cool in this kind of situation can plummet the economy into crisis.

"That is not something this government will do. We take a very level headed view of the economy.

"Indeed, some of the changes that Gordon Brown introduced when we first took over power in 1997, such as making determination of interest rates independent of the government process, putting in place fiscal and monetary stability, all of that is now coming to the fore because that is critically important to ensure the well being of the economy, but I counsel people do not talk us into recession."

Aviation and tourism have been affected

The ministerial talks came as the Scottish National Party called for a crisis fund to be set up to protect the tourism industry.

Members of the SNP said the recent terrorist atrocities in the US and the long-running foot-and-mouth crisis had dealt a damaging blow to the sector north of the border.

Kenny MacAskill, the SNP's enterprise spokesman, said the move would pave the way for grants to be paid to protect "the core of Scotland's tourism infrastructure" from bankruptcy.

A Scottish Executive spokeswoman said: "An urgent assessment is currently under way to look into the likely effect on the Scottish economy of the current world situation.

"Executive ministers are working closely with UK ministers to assess the short and medium term impacts and a joint action group has been formed consisting of visitscotland, the British Tourist Authority and the Area Tourist Boards.

Kenny MacAskill
Kenny MacAskill wants to see an emergency fund

"The group has produced an action plan and visitscotland is keeping the situation constantly under review."

On Monday the company which offered the only scheduled international flights from the Scottish Highlands suspended its service.

ScotAirways said it was grounding its recently-introduced flights to and from Amsterdam following the attacks on the US.

Demand from the American market has fallen sharply and has had a knock-on effect throughout the world.

Hayley Millar reports
"Ministers will discuss a co-ordinated approach"

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See also:

24 Sep 01 | Scotland
Scots airline suspends service
24 Sep 01 | Business
UK growth 'to fall sharply'
21 Sep 01 | Business
Terrorist toll on the UK economy
18 Sep 01 | Business
What now for tourism?
13 Sep 01 | Scotland
Trade outlook bleak after attacks
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