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Monday, 21 May, 2001, 13:35 GMT
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In the first general election since the advent of the Scottish Parliament, what matters most to the Scottish electorate?
Scotland has enjoyed a certain amount of home rule following devolution, but not all issues can be decided locally.
The political focus may be Holyrood but that won't stop all the parties fighting for seats at Westminister.
What has devolution meant for Scotland? How much have farmers been affected by foot-and-mouth? Is Scottish tourism suffering? How have changes in education and cutbacks in the fishing industry affected the Scots?
Among those who discussed these issues were Hamish Morrison from the Scottish Fishing Federation, Alan Smith from the Scottish NFU and Alex Wright, a politics lecturer at Dundee University. The venue was the Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre on Monday 21 May.
Alex Wright predicted that there could be a "major constitutional crisis between Scotland and the UK government" because the number of Scottish MPs is going to be cut and that is going to have repercussions for Holyrood.
He asked: "And if you have fewer MSPs, how is thing going to function effectively?"
He said the fact that former Scottish National Party leader Alex Salmond was standing for a Westminster seat was a measure of how important the House of Commons still is in Scotland, because of the reserved powers.
Mr Wright said the Scottish electorate was "sophisticated" enough to understand the new world of politics after devolution.
He said he believed Scotland should have "fiscal autonomy" as at present it has less tax-varying powers than local authorities.
Amanda Harvey from the Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce said the economy was expected to grow in 2001.
Jeff Riley, of design firm Imajica, said Scottish politicians were much more approachable when lobbying for e-business.
He was concerned about broadband roll-out being too slow in the UK.
There was also a warning of a skill shortage in Scotland.
In the public sector, junior doctor Simon Barker said health care devolution was making in-roads into the conditions of junior doctors.
He said hospitals in Scotland were at breaking point but he did not see a quick fix to the problem.
He said that to provide specialist care, there needed to be a "synthesis" between UK and Scottish policies.
He said there were times when devolution could "dilute" health policies.
"Without major investment in the infrastructure of our health service, which means major investment, I don't think we'll have a national health service in the future," Mr Barker warned.
Doug Marr, headteacher at Banchory Academy, said teachers were happy with what they have gained, but it is only beginning to catch up on past losses.
He said pressure would be on the UK government to provide a similar settlement in England and Wales.
He said it remains to be seen if the new package will encourage recruitment.
He was "hopeful rather than convinced" that this year's exam diet would be more successful than last year.
Users heard that farmers have been hit by foot-and-mouth and fisherman have been crippled by conservation measures which have closed down large parts of the North Sea.
Hamish Morrison, of the Scottish Fishing Federation, said: "We have no quarrel with the conservation objective. Our quarrel is with the ham-handed way it has been done."
He said London was having its agenda written from Scotland.
He said the northern European countries will never pay for tie-ups but in Spain and Italy they do it all the time.
Users also heard that farmers were suffering because of the strength of the pound, which is an issue controlled by Westminster.
The average farm income in Scotland was reported to be £3,000 and there are farmers looking to get out of the industry.
There was very strong feeling about the fuel tax - another Westminster issue.
Nick Gauntlet, chairman of the Aberdeen Hoteliers Association, said they had been affected by foot-and-mouth.
He said support from the Edinburgh government was needed.
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