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Last Updated: Thursday, 28 December 2006, 00:14 GMT
CBI warning over Holyrood powers
Holyrood chamber
The SNP wants Holyrood to have financial autonomy
Debates about whether Holyrood should have more powers must not dominate next year's Scottish elections, a leading business figure has warned.

Iain McMillan, director of CBI Scotland, said politicians should instead focus on how they intend to use existing powers to grow the economy.

His comments angered the SNP, which has promised to hold a referendum on full independence if it wins the elections.

SNP's Nicola Sturgeon said Mr McMillan was "out of touch" with CBI members.

In his New Year message, Mr McMillan argued that Scotland's business community wanted to hear how political parties would use the parliament's "considerable existing powers".

"My members want to know how each political party intends to improve our education and skills, develop our transport infrastructure, implement the detail of Scotland's new planning act, create a more competitive water industry, support Scottish Enterprise, improve regulation and take out unnecessary costs of delivering public services.

The arguments are not new and they have been well-rehearsed.
Iain McMillan
CBI Scotland

"If we get these things right, within a stable macro-economic environment provided by the UK Government, Scotland's economy will stand a much greater chance of improved long-term growth."

However, SNP deputy leader Nicola Sturgeon defended her party's plans to hold a referendum on full independence, which would be held at some point during their first four-year term in office if they won an outright majority at the elections.

"More and more people are now starting to believe that for Scotland to achieve sustainable economic growth the Scottish Parliament needs to have financial autonomy," she said.

Labour First Minister Jack McConnell has warned the SNP's commitment would create "division" and "discord", and UK Chancellor Gordon Brown has also publicly attacked the policy.

Mr McMillan added: "I'm not saying that the debate about the parliament's powers is without legitimacy. Indeed, CBI Scotland has participated in the debate.

"But the arguments are not new and they have been well-rehearsed."




SEE ALSO
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22 Oct 06 |  Scotland
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Sturgeon in rallying call to SNP
14 Oct 06 |  Scotland
Salmond sets out 'winning vision'
13 Oct 06 |  Scotland
New poll calls for independence
10 Sep 06 |  Scotland

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