IAN Lakin’s claim that the McCrone report “was not suppressed by the UK Government” (Letters, March 3) stretches even sophistry beyond what is reasonable.

Citing Professor McCrone’s own explanation that his report was “a confidential briefing for ministers and never intended for publication”, I don’t think is sufficient to rebut the claim of suppression for three reasons.

First, the report came to light only as a result of a Freedom of Information Act request in 2005, the year the Act came into force.

Secondly, and even more importantly, in an interview in May 2013 with Holyrood magazine, former Labour Chancellor Denis Healey admitted: “We did underplay the value of the oil to the country because of the threat of nationalism”, and that “they [Westminster politicians] are concerned about Scotland taking the oil, I think they are worried stiff about it”. In that context, if Mr Lakin does not consider that it was wise to suppress McCrone’s report, what would he call it?

Lastly, and I think definitively, the covering letter with the McCrone report concludes: “When my paper was written it was classified 'secret' and given only a most restricted circulation in the Scottish Office because of the extreme sensitivity of the subject. I am copying it now to Leo Pliatzky, Dick Ross, Jim Hamilton, John Liverman and Stuart Scott Whyte.”
Alasdair Galloway, Dumbarton

• ON the subject of the McCrone Report, and further to Ian Lakin's letter, I distinctly remember being told as a teenager in the 1970s that Scotland couldn't afford to be independent because there was only about 15 years of oil left in the North Sea; but the McCrone Report confirmed that Scotland could be a successful independent nation. What a shocking, missed opportunity.

Former Labour Chancellor Denis Healey admitted that the UK Government deliberately underplayed the value of Scotland's oil in the 1970s, because it was "worried stiff" about losing the oil revenues if Scotland opted for independence. Jim Sillars was spot on when he commented that "Scotland must be the only country in the world to discover oil and get poorer".
Ruth Marr, Stirling

Scotland deserves deal like NI

THE convoluted attempt by Ian Lakin to justify the withholding of important information from the public betrays the political nature of decisions taken by the UK Government to the disadvantage of the people of Scotland. Should Gavin McCrone have reported that only a tiny fraction of the recoverable hydrocarbons from the North Sea were economically producible, or that the oil and gas reserves would run out in less than five years, I would suspect (and perhaps even Mr Lakin might agree) that such information would soon have been headline news across the UK.

Even more convoluted is Mr Lakin’s attempt to justify why Scotland has been denied a trading status similar to that of Northern Ireland, never mind the right to hold constitutional referenda. The principle of “non-discrimination” in trade matters extends from the 1707 Act of Union through to the 2020 UK Internal Market Act, and this is the supposed "basis" of recent claims that de facto Governor Alister Jack could block the introduction of the Deposit Return Scheme in Scotland.

If Mr Lakin is indeed keen to avoid the “major repercussions” that he seems to perceive could result from Scotland choosing to determine its own future, then why is he not writing letters arguing for Scotland to at least be granted the same status with regard to the EU as Northern Ireland? Such a UK Government act would, for once, have the support of the vast majority of the people of Scotland.
Stan Grodynski, Longniddry

Read more letters: Could the next SNP leader please learn to listen?

Forbes is SNP's best chance

I SUSPECT many Scots who do not currently support the SNP hope sufficient members of the party wake up and smell the coffee in the next few weeks.

Since 1999, when the majority of Scots voted for devolution, the quality of all the devolved services has consistently reduced and costs increased.

Whilst huge efforts have been made to increase the support for independence, the country is still split 50:50; too much stick and not enough carrot, perhaps.

Why then, are so many of us non-believers so excited with Kate Forbes, a young mother currently on maternity leave and a devout member of the Free Church? Whilst few of us agree with all of her Christian beliefs, for a politician, her honesty is from times past, she is a centrist, much admired by other parties and reminds us of the the likes of the late John Smith and Charles Kennedy.

Nicola Sturgeon, on her own admission, is a divisive politician, who had to rely on the Green Party to support her minority government. Unfortunately, their policies were the final nail in the coffin for her leadership. Was there ever worse timing for the Greens to be involved in government, than the worse fuel crisis since Suez?

I hope that many lovers of Scotland, will accept that we have to improve the quality of many who live in Scotland and currently struggle with the quality of healthcare, education, policing, social services and transport.

The SNP should accept its best chance of achieving its dream is to play the long game and vote for Ms Forbes, an intelligent and gifted politician who will work with other politicians to improve the devolved services. She, unlike her predecessor, is very capable of gathering consensus from other parties to run a minority government. I suspect the Greens will be quickly returned to the pasture, from whence they came, taking their policies and hopefully, Peter Murrell with them.

The only way to success for the SNP is to prove to the Scottish taxpayers that it has at last grown up and can successfully run a devolved government providing decent services, without bleeding us all dry. When it can do that, it will give many of us a dilemma, which I for one will cherish.
Graham Russell, Aberdeen

Why Greens are pushing DRS

KRISTY Dorsey's report ("Hospitality fears as DRS to go live at height of tourist season", The Herald, March 3) makes it quite clear that the only interest in the Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) from those who will have to operate it is the likely negative impact it will have. The Green Party, however, continues to see no problem, hear no problem, but barges blindly on assuming it knows best whilst ignoring the negative response of those with greater knowledge.

It seems perfectly obvious that DRS is less about the environment but all about the Greens' anxiety to get it done at any cost while they have a chance before a new SNP leader takes office and ends the disastrous alliance with the party.
JA Smith, Dunblane

Read more letters: We need a prescriptive curriculum that defines what must be taught

A fair deal for students

BEFORE any student can apply for free university tuition fees, that individual has to have been resident in Scotland for at least seven years.

Quite a few students whose families emigrated to Scotland have gone through the senior years of our Scottish secondary school system and have achieved results qualifying them for acceptance into university courses only to find that they do not meet the requirement of having been resident in Scotland for seven years.

As a result they are barred for applying for free university tuition fees and find themselves categorised as international students, which means that they are expected to pay the high university fees required of international students.

That impediment means that they have to put on hold their hopes of university education until they meet the residency qualification, their families not having the means to fund them as international students. Those years in limbo must be hard to take.

It cannot be beyond the wit of Holyrood to put through its legislative chamber an emergency order allowing such students, whose families reside now in Scotland, to apply for free university tuition on condition that, once they complete their degree qualifications, they must commit themselves to staying to work in Scotland for five years after completion of their courses to contribute to our Scottish economy, thereby meeting the residency qualification in essence.

Any failure to fulfil that five-year commitment would find that legally they would be bound to repay the amount of fees they would have had to pay as international students.

Such a legally-binding contract would mean that there would be no wasted years where they would have to wait to meet the seven year residency qualification before embarking upon their university courses.

That would be a solution beneficial to both the students, caught in such a no-man's land, and our country, which cannot afford to lose the talents of bright youngsters.
Denis Bruce, Bishopbriggs


Letters should not exceed 500 words. We reserve the right to edit submissions.