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Politicians should ‘take pay cut’ during any further Covid measures, says Aberdeen chamber boss

Russell Borthwick, chief executive of Aberdeen And Grampian Chamber Of Commerce.

Politicians should take a 25% pay cut for the duration of any future Covid-19 restrictions, says an Aberdeen business organisation.

Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce called for the rule to be one of five conditions attached to any further business restrictions.

The request comes in a letter to Nicola Sturgeon urging her to scrap plans to permanently enshrine emergency lockdown powers in law.

Under the proposed emergency Covid powers, the Scottish Government would be able to bring in extensive lockdown measures for any new pandemic.

Ministers could issue orders forcing Scots to stay at home again and would be able to shut pubs, restaurants and shops.

But Russell Borthwick, chief executive of business group, said the move risks “undermining democracy and handing a free rein to ministers”.

Five conditions for Covid rules

The organisation has called on five conditions to be attached to uphold public and business confidence:

  • That any emergency measures require the approval of 75 or more MSPs.
  • That any Covid Advisory Group is expanded to include business voices.
  • That MSPs and officials take a 25% pay cut for the duration of any future restrictions.
  • That any emergency funding is distributed within 48-hours of any restrictions.
  • That ministers publish plans to help city centres recover from the pandemic.

Mr Borthwick continued: “Restrictions impose significant financial hardship on many businesses and their employees and it is important that our politicians and civil servants understand this sacrifice.

“Those making the rules should share and understand the financial pain being inflicted on those who are forced to follow them.

“Enshrining what was purely an emergency measure into our long-term future – against the widely-expressed concerns of the public, businesses, law chiefs and parliamentarians – will have a corrosive impact on democracy.

“Not only that, it will put Scottish businesses at a competitive disadvantage, make this country less attractive to investors and put our economic recovery at real risk.”

The SNP says the measures would only be used in a huge public health emergency, but crucially there are no strict legal limitations on the powers.

Other organisations including The Law Society of Scotland also voiced concern over the bill, warning that the proposals “have the potential to result in very significant restrictions on liberty” without sufficient parliamentary scrutiny.

Scotland’s Covid rules: Why are people angry about controversial SNP ‘power grab’?

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The proposed public health protection measures bring Scotland into line with legislation that is already in statute in England and Wales, ensuring ministers can take effective and proportionate action to face public health threats.

“As with existing temporary legislation all future public health protection regulations would be subject to parliamentary scrutiny and approval, in place for a period specified in the regulations and subject to regular review as long as they remain in force.”

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