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WATCH: Fergus Ewing brands deposit return scheme 'defective'

By Scott Maclennan

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Rebellious backbencher Fergus Ewing has renewed his scathing attack on the Scottish Government’s deposit return scheme, branding it “reckless.”

The Inverness and Nairn MSP warns that the proposals set to come into force in August will hurt not just local producers but consumers as well.

He called for the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to step in and delay the scheme to solve what he sees as the many problems with it.

Underlining his point, he said it “gives him no pleasure” to criticise the government so openly but that he cannot stand by while “businesses go to the wall because of defective legislation and regulation.”

This goes way beyond carelessness, this is recklessness

“I am not particularly a shrinking violet,” he said. “I have made my views known, they have paid no heed to them whatsoever and now it is crunch time, and that is why I am speaking out.

“I have been a loyal party member for nearly half a century but I cannot stand by and see business go to the wall because of defective legislation and regulation.”

He continued: “Governments can make mistakes, all of us can get something wrong as an error of judgement and that is carelessness, perhaps. But this goes way beyond carelessness, this is recklessness.

“To go ahead with a scheme which your own advice says cannot be made to work and it should be substantially reviewed and amended. It's not careless, it is reckless and governments shouldn't do things that are reckless, to state the obvious.

‘Get in aboot this’

“And therefore I think that there is a case for the first minister, the deputy first minister and the top civil servant, the permanent secretary – whose salary is up to £180,000 and this is a chance to earn that salary and ‘get in aboot this’.

“Get out and about and speak to industry and sort these problems, but immediately halt, postpone, or pause the scheme for 18 months, carry out an independent review.”

Illustrating his point he said some of those with the “the least money, the least well off” will suffer because of the way the scheme is conceived.

He said: “Small convenience stores tell me that the as well as the small deposit of 20p for every bottle of soft drink or beer, as well as that 20p, because it does not cover their costs or their handling fee the actual price inflation will not just be 20p but another 20p or 30p on top of that.

“The small convenience stores who serve the public, many of whom don’t have a car, and they probably tend to have the least money, are the least well off, will face price inflation at a time when we are in a cost of living crisis.”

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