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Last Updated: Monday, 9 July 2007, 13:35 GMT 14:35 UK
Register to provide tartan checks
Jake Shears and Ana Matronic of The Scissor Sisters
The move is aimed at preserving and promoting tartan designs
A national register of tartans is to be set up after winning the backing of the Scottish government.

Enterprise Minister Jim Mather made the announcement during a visit to the Scottish Borders.

Tory Highlands and Islands MSP Jamie McGrigor first put forward the idea of the register in the last parliament.

Mr Mather said the register would "protect, promote and preserve one of Scotland's most iconic and valuable assets".

The register will "classify and authenticate" tartans, with its foundation being provided by the Scottish Tartans Authority, based in Crieff, which has 6,500 tartans on its database.

Tartan's importance to Scotland cannot be overestimated
Jim Mather
Enterprise Minister

It comes after a report stressed that tartan supports nearly 200 business in Scotland.

Mr Mather said he would now work with Scottish Enterprise and the industry with the aim of having a national register in place by next spring.

The minister also welcomed a Scottish Enterprise commissioned assessment of the tartan industry in Scotland which confirmed the "significant contribution" the industry makes to the economy.

Speaking at Lochcarron of Scotland in Selkirk, Mr Mather said: "Tartan's importance to Scotland cannot be overestimated. It is deeply embedded in Scottish culture and is an internationally recognised symbol of Scotland.

Kilts at T in the Park
The kilt is popular for formal use, football fans and festivals alike

"Today's report provides solid evidence that the tartan industry makes a significant contribution to the Scottish economy.

"So it is only right that the Scottish government protects, promotes and preserves one of our most valuable assets for generations to come."

Mr Mather said the Court of the Lord Lyon and the National Archives of Scotland would play a crucial role in setting up, operating, maintaining and allowing access to the register.

The tartan industry generates more than 350m to the Scottish economy every year and supports more than 4,000 jobs.

The independent report commissioned by Scottish Enterprise said Scotland had nearly 200 tartan-related enterprises, from famous textiles manufacturers to smaller merchants, weavers and kilt makers.

Mr McGrigor, whose Member's Bill prompted the Executive's decision, said he was "delighted" at the move, which he predicted would be given a warm welcome by the entire industry.

He added: "The previous executive asked me to put my bill on ice while it assessed the value of tartan to Scotland's economy and heritage.

"I am therefore very pleased that the subsequent report has confirmed just how valuable tartan is and that the new executive feels able to produce a register by next spring.

"It is vital that we keep Scotland as the Mecca for tartan worldwide and this National Register will go a long way in helping to achieve this."

Kirsty Scott, head of the Scottish textiles team at Scottish Enterprise, said: "Tartan is synonymous with Scotland and it is vitally important that we continue to support the sector to capitalise on its popularity around the world."

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