Independence offers benefits not just to Edinburgh as the capital city of an independent country, but to Scotland as a whole. The best future for our country, including its capital city, can be achieved only with the transfer to Scotland of the levers that we need to make the right decisions to generate economic growth and a fairer society for all.
Edinburgh is currently home to just 11 international consulates, whereas Dublin hosts 61, with more than 300 accredited diplomats and hundreds of local staff all employed by other governments contributing tens of millions of euros in wider economic impact. Does the minister agree that the likely expansion of the consular corps in Edinburgh could mean an economic windfall for the city, as well as making the capital even more outward looking on the global stage?
Marco Biagi makes an excellent point. The consular corps in Scotland does an excellent job, wherever staff are based, and I record my thanks to them.
A number of consulates have been in Scotland for a long time. The Danish consulate recently hosted a reception to mark its 250th anniversary and the Norwegians have had a presence here for 200 years. The number of consulates has been increasing, with recent additions including the permanent Romanian consulate, which was set up in December 2012, and an honorary Croatian consulate.
We expect that, with independence, we will see a significant expansion in the number of diplomatic missions and the scale of diplomatic representation in Scotland. The benefit to the Scottish economy of the creation of those additional jobs is likely to be incredibly significant.
Whether in respect of the economic levers that could help to protect us against damaging United Kingdom policies such as the bedroom tax, or the economic levers for growth that would, for example, allow us to reduce corporation tax to incentivise businesses to come to Edinburgh, I encourage Malcolm Chisholm to look on the bright side of life and to see the glass as being half full, as opposed to half empty.