'More Powers' To Boost Productivity

Holyrood must be given the power to improve Scotland's productivity, infrastructure and innovation, business leaders will tell the commission tasked with building a cross-party consensus on devolution.

Lord Smith of Kelvin, chairman of the Smith Commission, will visit Inverness next Tuesday to hear the views of businesses from across the region on further devolution of powers to the Scottish Parliament.

The Scottish Council for Development and Industry (SCDI) will introduce Lord Smith to local stakeholders, who will be invited to have an input in the commission's work.

SCDI chief executive Ross Martin said: "On September 18 the people of Scotland made the decision that we should remain part of the UK. This was an engaged and passionate process and it was clear that strengthening the powers of the Scottish Parliament was widely supported.

"Lord Smith's work to bring all sides of the debate together following the referendum result to consider what powers can and should be devolved is an important step.

"The commission needs to look at the mechanisms that should be devolved in order to ensure the expressed view that the Scottish Parliament should have increased responsibilities and accountability is acted upon and that Scotland has the right levers at its disposal to be a thriving economy for the long term.

"As a country we need to address our productivity, infrastructure, innovation and internationalisation and I hope that this process will see politicians on all sides look to the long term and the steps needed to address these areas for the benefit of future generations.''

Lord Smith said: "I am looking forward to meeting with figures from both the business and wider community in Inverness.

"It is vitally important the views of people outwith the political parties and from all parts of Scotland - including the Highlands - inform this process.

"I will make sure the cross-party nominees to the commission are aware of what their thoughts are. I would also like to thank the SCDI for giving me this opportunity to engage with their members and to hear what they have to say.''

SCDI Highlands & Islands director Fraser Grieve added: "Lord Smith's decision to come to Inverness and meet with stakeholders from across the region shows he recognises the need to engage with people throughout Scotland.

"The north of Scotland has huge economic opportunities ahead and can continue to make a substantial contribution to our economy as we look to strengthen our economic resilience and grow trade.

"I would encourage people from across the Highlands and Islands to make a contribution to the Smith Commission by emailing haveyoursay@smith-commission.scot in order that they understands the issues that are important to communities in every corner of the country.''

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