THE confusion started on Thursday when, at the end of the Lords debate on the “Gross Domestic Product: Wales and the UK”, Lord George Foulkes sought assurance from Baroness Penn that her Treasury officials would cooperate in the investigation that was being carried out at his request into Scottish Government spending on reserved matters by the Advocate General for Scotland.

Baroness Penn’s reply was to the point – “I can give the noble Lord that assurance.”

How could she have readily agreed to commit her Treasury officials to working on an investigation that she could not have known about if it didn’t exist?

READ MORE: Chaos over potential UK probe into Scottish independence spending

At first I assumed that as this exchange took place in the Lords it might be quite common for a geriatric member waking from a snooze to ask a question with little connection to the debate and get fobbed off by what is usually a meaningless stock answer.

However, as the issue totally dominated the media on Friday it began to look as though Lord Foulkes’s bombshell might be an unanticipated diversion causing confusion between the government and its ill-informed Scotland Office.

What prompted Lord Foulkes to ask that question when he did, and why was it on the day that an announcement was made in Scotland connected to the Treasury?

READ MORE: George Foulkes contradicted as UK officials NOT probing SNP spending

The answer could lie in another article in The National on the little-reported release of a joint statement by the Scottish and UK governments that due to a record increase in growth, the Scottish income tax yield for the 2020/2021 financial year was almost £1.5 billion higher that the Office for Budget Responsibility prediction.

The unprecedented cooperation between the Unionist branches in Scotland must have received approval from their London-based headquarters. It would not be surprising to discover that they have also been pooling their resources in Westminster to coordinate and strengthen their attacks on the Scottish Government.

John Jamieson
South Queensferry

IN response to the criticism from Iain Evans regarding Mhairi Black’s intention to stand down at the next election (Letters, Jul 7). What is it about Mhairi’s decision that is honestly to be criticised? She has – as she pointed out – given a third of her life to date to being an MP. She has done this admirably despite not always having the best of health. That she might well now wish to gain some “real-world employment experience”, I see no problem in that.

It is, in my opinion, despicable to criticise the decision Mhairi has taken. She has been an asset throughout her time as an MP and does not deserve what has been written by Iain Evans and Ross James. Especially coming from so-called supporters or assumed-to-be supporters of the SNP and the independence movement.

READ MORE: Michael Russell: There are better ways to govern than Westminster’s old boys’ club

If in the future Mhairi Black decides to stand for Holyrood, all power to her elbow. So-called supporters are doing the independence movement no favours by hostility and criticism for a young woman who has done the SNP proud and has encouraged young folk to join. I wish her well in whatever way forward she chooses.

Thanks for all you have done in your time in Westminster, Mhairi – I am sure you will do well in whatever direction you choose to go.

Frieda Burns

IF you were watching the procession in Edinburgh last week, whatever your politics, the forces put on an impressive show as the King and Queen’s escorts. The Black Watch looked terrific representing the army, as were the navy and the air force.

As a horsey person I loved seeing the horses of the Household Cavalry in their shiny tack. I could not help remembering that Scotland has its own fabulous cavalry regiment, the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, known as the Greys, whose history goes all the way back to 1678. Unlike the “Blues and Royals” who were present on Wednesday, the Greys lost their ceremonial horses sometime in the post-war defence cuts.

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It must be possible, in these days of crowdfunding, to raise the money by public subscription to provide the regiment with a dozen grey mounts and to maintain them independently of the Ministry of Defence budget. That is if the regiment and the department would like to co-operate. The horses could be accommodated at Redford Cavalry Barracks in winter and out at grass nearby in summer.

A couple of mounted guardsmen or women at the gate to protect the Crown Jewels in the summer months could only add to the considerable attraction of Edinburgh Castle and they would be available for other occasions at Holyrood House and throughout the land, the Tattoo, and to represent Scotland on visits abroad.


I cannae be too sure about the cost but I think it might be possible for inside £100,000 per year. To some extent they could be partly self-sustaining, but imagine the pleasure of having such a living reminder of history going so far back beyond the Battle of Waterloo.

Remember our enviable horse breeding history as well. Scotland bred the most famous working horse in the world, the Clydesdale, and the most numerous recreational horse in the world, the Shetland pony.

Harry Corrigan
via email

HOW come the BBC are investigating the criminal allegations made against their star presenter? Isn’t that a job for the police? Having said that, perhaps they are too busy dealing with their own sex offenders.

Harry Key