Looking ahead to this week’s Budget statement by Chancellor Jeremy Hunt, Sir Tom Hunter and Lord Willie Haughey have both focused on the issue of corporation tax and whether Scotland should enjoy special consideration in order to attract new investment.

Speaking on the Go Radio Business Show with Hunter & Haughey, Lord Haughey said: “Already there have been leaks to the media that Jeremy Hunt is maybe going to cut back on what was Liz Truss’s idea for more and more enterprise zones.

“I think that would be a huge step backwards when he steps up to make his statement on March 15th.”

While acknowledging there was a need to raise taxes, Lord Haughey advised this should be done carefully and intelligently. He pointed out countries such as Ireland had created a much more attractive tax environment for businesses.

“When I look at Ireland now, with a rate of 12.5% for corporation tax, they are attracting some of the biggest names in the world to come and set up there. How are we going to compete with that? We’re going to be left behind.”

Sir Tom noted that Sir James Dyson, the well-known inventor of the Dyson vacuum cleaner, had recently highlighted the case of AstraZeneca, the global pharmaceutical company that is investing $360 million in the Republic of Ireland for its manufacturing facilities.

Sir James is said to have warned in a letter to Jeremy Hunt there would be “unintended consequences” of hiking corporation tax and bringing in a new global levy on multinationals agreed by the OECD.

“He’s questioning why the UK – and Scotland is still part of the UK – is not investible?” said Sir Tom. “I would respond by saying there are a lot of things we need to change to get it investible once again.”

Lord Haughey said he had a better idea: “Instead of all the hard work and effort at the moment trying to get another referendum and independence, why don’t we lobby the UK Government to say: ‘Why don’t we do a trial in Scotland?’

“We have the perfect location for wind power. You know, we can’t say solar to be fair, right? But we could absolutely be at the forefront of the new green energy initiatives.

“So why not make all of Scotland an investment zone?”

Sir Tom agreed, adding: “Scotland leads the world. Of the three candidates for First Minister, Kate Forbes has shown she can work with the UK Government. I think previous leaders of the Scottish Government have seen it as a no-go area to work with Westminster.

“However, if this was to help Scotland and to help the people of Scotland, what First Minister shouldn’t be doing this?

“We should definitely lobby for that. I love it!”

Lord Haughey went on: “I think that there’s absolutely something in this. If Ireland, which is part of the EU, are allowed to have a much reduced rate of corporation tax in their region, why can we not follow suit now and try it? If it works, then you can maybe do something for Wales. I mean look what’s happening in Northern Ireland at the moment.”

Sir Tom concluded: “Let’s forget the Protocol; we’re calling it the Windsor Framework and I’m sure there will be advantages here. Clever people will see the advantages of the new things that would be agreed by the EU.

“I definitely think I would be lobbying big time that we are in an ideal position. Forget this freeport in one small part of Scotland. Let’s say we’re about the whole country of six million people and about using everything we have.

“People keep saying we could be this clean energy powerhouse. Let’s see if we’re right! Tax breaks for Scotland!”