IT WAS a promising constructive start to the Enterprise and Economy Committee's inquiry into the economic viability of an independent Scotland, with an appearance by Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander cruising through predictable questions, friendly and hostile, as did Nicola Sturgeon and John Swinney for the Scottish Government.

Agenda's highlight was Swinney's heartfelt, almost tearful expression of "personal exception" to the remarks of the Permanent Secretary of the Treasury's accusation of "profligacy" aimed at him, when everyone knows how frugal he is. In fact, Sir Nicholas Macpherson used no such word, but did make some pointed remarks about the Scottish Government's vision of post-independence milk and honey. In his letter to the Chancellor, Macpherson wrote: "If the Scottish Government had demonstrated a strong commitment to a rigorous fiscal policy in recent months, it might be possible to discount this. But recent spending and tax commitments by the Scottish Government point in the opposite direction."

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