Some Scottish News & Views Issue # 380

Issue # 380                                                               Week ending 24th December 2016

Come Dine with Me If You Fancy Pills and Medicine by Iain MacIver Courtesy of the Press & Journal

This house is shaking. No, Mrs X is not in a strop and stomping down the stairs this time but there is a hooley out there. Storm Barbara has arrived in Stornoway, picking up bins and garden sheds and throwing them all over the place. You would have to be brave to go out if you didn't have to.

I know all about bravery. After all, I told Mrs X to wrap up last week. And she did it too. That would never happen normally but she was poorly and suffering from the bug. In fact, she has spent the last 10 days wrapped in blankets, coughing her guts up and being waited on hand and foot by yours truly.

Because she was being pampered for medical reasons, she was pretty much plonked in front of the telly for the duration. At one point she screamed: "Look, it's whatchamaycallher from the wedding. That's her. Look." I whipped off my apron and ran through from the kitchen." There was someone making a dessert. It was just Come Dine With Me. Oh no, the blone must be hallucinating.

It turned out to be an episode of the competition with the £1,000 prize that had been recorded in Inverness with people from around the Moray Firth a few years ago. Somehow we had missed it then but there was Gillian Sutherland, a madcap piper we met at a wedding in Dornoch earlier this year. "Look, there's Gilly Bee, in the flesh," said Mrs X between swigs of cough linctus.

No dear, not quite in the flesh. Now, you take another couple of these extra-strong anti-flu tablets. Yes them, the ones in the packet marked "may cause extreme drowsiness". That's it, down the hatch. It is really hard work looking after the sick and the needy but someone has to do it.
Men are always accused of playing up their mildest symptoms into something more serious that they really are but man-flu is a real thing and just because we say we are suffering does not mean we are faking it. I mean, I would have thought 10 days on the sofa is enough for anyone – even if they really are ill. What's wrong with you? Come on, lady up.

As herself snored, shaking the house almost as much as Storm Barbara is doing now, I watched Come Dine and it was a cracker. Gilly was taking part with wannabe wag Melissa, slightly-grumpy David, happy hairdresser Zarina and pumping personal trainer Jamie. Being all friendly Highlanders, they got on great, of course. Well, not all the time. Actually, when I think about it, not that well at all really. They were just very different people.

Gilly Bee though was great with everyone and she was the star performer who kept everyone giggling. Her Touch of Tartan theme worked well and her traditional Caledonian fare was gobbled down. I thought she would win it when she marched in playing her bagpipes and had them all hooching and wheeching along. But it was similarly-slightly-zany Zarina who grabbed the grand and rightfully so. It was great telly – although I have heard since that maybe not everyone concerned thought so afterwards.

The only show I would like to take part is a home makeover one. Having recently moved house, we have a load of decorating to do and if we could get Carol Smillie or the whiskery Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen to ask us to go out for the day and do the work for us while we were out, that would be fab.

Hopefully, they would paint everything cream. I do like that colour as it is neutral and timeless and restful. Mrs X, of course, is more lah-di-dah about these things and insists it must always be called magnolia. Where did that word come from? You never hear it except when discussing paint. Why is that?

Just the thought of me going up a ladder to cover the pelmets in lashings of cream emulsion is making my knees shake. Oh no, the house is shaking again. I'm not surprised at that because it is probably thinking of me up that ladder. Still, we shouldn’t criticise the weather. If it didn’t change once in a while, most people couldn’t start a conversation.

Still, enough about our redecorations. That's for another year. It is nearly Christmas and I really hope you all have a very good one. I always wonder how other people around the north of Scotland mark the festivities. Me? This year we'll just have a quiet one and toast each other with a wee glass of Bailey's Irish Magnolia.

Inverness Car Park 'Cowboys' Spark Fury
The time has come to put a stop to unfair charges at a controversial Inverness car park. Drivers using the Strothers Lane car park next to TK Maxx have become increasingly fed up of receiving hefty bills for minor infringements – including being just a minute over the time and entering an incorrect registration number.  The car park, run by Smart Parking, has attracted major criticism over a number of years for the way such breaches are pursued. Complaints have been reported before – including the case of a man who was charged £160 after being accused of staying little more than a minute over an allowed 10-minute waiting time.  And now steps are now being taken to try to end what seem to be accelerating problems.  Similar complaints have also been aired online concerning Strothers Lane and the string of other car parks the Perth-based company runs all across the country. Branding the firm "cowboys", customers have told about how they have been sent demands for huge amounts despite apparently minor breaches such as staying slightly over the time allowed, or even being fined despite ticket machines not accepting their money.  In all cases the company said it is drivers’ responsibility to make sure they enter details correctly and pay for the right amount of time. "The terms and conditions of the car park are clearly advertised around the site and must be adhered to by all drivers," a Smart Parking spokesman said. Inverness South councillor Carolyn Caddick was caught out at Strothers Lane after failing to locate an alternative ticket machine when the main one on site was damaged and said her advice was to keep appealing against any charge notice issued.  "Every time they came back I just kept arguing my case," she said. "And now that it’s over I will never, ever park there again. I’m sure I’ve personally had about a dozen people over the last couple of years getting in touch to report problems they’ve had – all on the face of it people who seemed to have legitimate reasons for not exactly following the rules as they are set out.  That to me is the major thing – that these are for small, often unavoidable, slips and not people deliberately trying to avoid paying, and the response by Smart Parking seems to be out of all proportion." She said she had been advised that trading standards could investigate practices at the car park, if they hear from enough drivers over the issue.

The Brahan Seer
The Brahan Seer’s prophecies have intrigued people for centuries and such is his reputation that his predictions are still spoken of today. Most of what we know about him and his prophecies has come from the oral tradition and, according to folklore, the Brahan Seer’s birth name was Kenneth Mackenzie. He was said to have been born in Uig on the Isle of Lewis in the 17th century and was known as Coinneach Odhar in Gaelic. There is no documentary evidence of his existence at this time but there is a record of a Coinneach Odhar in court archives who was accused of witchcraft in the 16th century.  He is said to have prophesised many events such as the Second World War, the demise of various Scottish clans, the Battle of Culloden, the construction of the Caledonian Canal, and the introduction of railway lines across the Highlands. A book of the Brahan Seer’s prophecies was first published by Alexander Mackenzie in 1877. There has been much speculation about whether the predictions originated from one person and if the Brahan Seer really existed.  According to legend, the Brahan Seer worked for the third Earl of Seaforth and was employed as a labourer at Brahan Castle near Dingwall when one of his prophecies led to his own brutal death. The Earl of Seaforth was away in France and his wife, Countess Isabella, wanted news of his welfare. The Brahan Seer had a vision of the Earl with another woman and when he told her of this, the Countess had him burned alive in a barrel of hot tar at Chanonry Point on the Black Isle.  The Brahan Seer was said to have used a stone with a hole in the middle to see his visions and there are various tales as to how the stone came into his possession. Some say that he fell asleep on a fairy hill and awoke to find it in his pocket and in other accounts he found the stone in a raven’s nest. In one version told by Donald Sinclair from Tiree, the Brahan Seer was on a beach one night when he met the phantom of a drowned maiden who told him where to find the stone, one that she herself had used for prophecy. Donald refers to him as ‘Dun Kenneth’ which is a translation of his Gaelic name.

History of Scottish Banks and Bank Notes - Part 2
Commercial Crisis of 1772
In 1772 there occurred one of the worst commercial crises that Scotland has ever seen. Several of the small private banks in Edinburgh failed as did one of the largest of the provincial banking companies. The crisis might have been even more serious had it not been for another innovation - the Bank of Scotland, the Royal Bank and, to some extent, the British Linen company acted as lenders of last resort by lending cash to some of the provincial banking companies, whose business was otherwise sound, but who had problems of providing adequate liquid assets to meet the demands of their customers. In other words the Edinburgh bankers were prepared to develop at least some of the functions nowadays normally associated with a Central Bank.  The willingness of the Edinburgh bankers to act in this way brought considerable stability and confidence to the Scottish banking system. Thereafter commercial crises were never experienced with such intensity as they were in other parts of the British isles. The preparedness of the banks to help one another meant that the banks were also better able to help their customers through difficult times.

Bank Notes in the 18th Century
In the 18th century after the Union of parliaments and "Monetary Union" at that time, exchange rates were fixed at £12 Scots to £1 sterling and notes were sometimes issued expressed in both currencies.  Early notes were printed in black only. It was not until September 1777 that the Royal Bank of Scotland pioneered the use of colour in banknotes with a blue rectangle displaying the words  one Guinea  and the Kings head shown in red. Colour did not come into widescale use for nearly a century later. Banknotes were originally printed on one side only.  Banknotes provided a crucial part of the currency of Scotland and in the 18th and early 19th Century and competed vigorously with coins. There were times, for example, when £1 notes were torn into halves and quarters and were accepted as 10 shillings (50p) or 5 shillings (25p) in coin.  The attempts to prevent forgery from a skilled engraver were certainly not on the scale of today s complex designs. The main deterrents were a water-marked paper, a mezzo-tint portrait of George II, an embossed bank seal and the signature of the Cashier. The accepted Scots punishment at that time of death or amputation of hand and/or tongue may have proved more effective! As printing capabilities developed in the 19th century, designs became more and more complex to deter forgery - the banks always trying to keep one step ahead.  Stamp Duty was first levied on bank notes in 1783. At first the Stamp Duty related only to those over one guinea but by 1800 it had to be paid on every banknote. Under the Act the paper had to be stamped before each note was printed. Stamping the paper was a lengthy process as it involved the Scottish banks travelling to the Stamp Office in London by stagecoach. In 1808 the Scottish banks were granted the concession of issuing their notes on unstamped paper and paying the duty in a lump sum.

Threats to Scottish Bank Notes in the 19th Century
But the development of banks and bank notes was not always smooth as we saw earlier and in 1826 another threat to the issue of the Scottish £1 notes arose. Following the failure of 60 banks in England with considerable losses to the public an Act was passed forbidding the circulation of notes under £5 in England. The threat to the £1 notes - the only paper currency familiar to the great masses of the Scottish people - aroused widespread criticism especially as only two banks in Scotland had failed. Sir Walter Scott writing as Sir Malachi Malagruther came to the defence of Scottish banking. Members of Parliament, the Press and a host of pamphleteers clamoured against confirming to the English style. Of course, Sir Walter Scott s bankruptcy at the time may have encouraged him to help the banks!   A Parliamentary enquiry was set up specifically to enquire into the issue of bank notes in Scotland and Ireland but, more generally, to enquire into the whole system of banking. The Government had planned to abolish the right of Scottish banks to issue notes under £5 - a right which they had always enjoyed. Such was the clamour from Scotland that Parliament appointed a committee of enquiry which found that Scottish banking was-  "a system admirably calculated to economise the use of Capital to excite and cherish a spirit of useful Enterprise, and even to promote the moral habits of the people, by the direct inducements which it holds out to the maintenance of a character for industry, integrity and prudence." BCCI and Barings Bank eat your heart out!!  The result was that the Scottish banks were allowed to keep their note issues. But this enquiry also meant that legislators in London became increasingly aware of the Scottish system of banking and its successes compared with the English system and its weaknesses.

Continued Development

Throughout the industrial revolution the banking system grew in a fairly dynamic and, on the whole, relatively stable basis. Branch systems were enlarged and new provincial banking companies continued to be formed. The growth of industry and commerce was such that many of the smaller provincial banking companies and private banks ceased to be able to provide the scale of financial services required by their customers.  This was particularly evident in the 1830s with the growth of the iron industry and the building of railways. The consequence for the banks was that a new generation of organisations came to be formed and many of these absorbed the provincial banking companies and private banks. There were a few failures but losses to the public were small.  Amongst the banks formed at this time were the Union Bank of Scotland (1830) and the Clydesdale Bank (1838). The new generation of joint-stock banks soon came to rival Bank of Scotland and Royal Bank in size and by the mid-1840s Scotland had a homogeneous banking system comprising of large-scale organisations with growing branch networks

The First Savings Bank

Somewhat in the background, another trend was developing which was to have a significant impact on Scottish life. The first Savings Bank was founded in Ruthwell in Dumfries-shire in 1810 by the Rev. Henry Duncan. He had seen his parrishioners spending their earnings from smuggling to the Isle of Man during the Napoleonic and wars and then becoming impoverished again when the wars ended. At that time banks were not catering for working people (the minimum deposit at the time was five pounds - more than most people earned in a year. From Rithwell the movement spread throughout the country and to many other parts of the world. These were not commercial banks, for they did not lend money to businesses or issue bank notes. Their deposits, for the most part, were invested with the Commissioners for the National Debt. Nevertheless, their contribution to the cult of Scottish thrift was quite simply enormous. Moreover their off-shoots, the penny savings banks, carried the tradition to all levels of Scottish society.

The Banknote (Scotland) Act 1845
In 1844, after another period of severe financial crisis, Sir Robert Peel took advantage of a review of the Bank of England s Charter to regulate the issue of notes. The Banknote (Scotland) Act was passed in 1845 and this Act (with some later amendments) regulates today s note issue by the Scottish banks. The banks were permitted to issue notes to the extent of the average circulation for the year to 1 May 1845 without any backing or cover of coin or security. Today that privilege seems very small indeed. For the three Scottish banks which today issue their own banknotes only £3m comes under that privilege out of nearly £1,800m in circulation. All the rest has to be covered at the Bank of England by non-interest bearing deposits or by the banks  own holdings of Bank of England notes or coin. But restrictions on note issues were placed on the English banks so that by the early part of the 20th century only the bank of England was left issuing notes south of the border.

Expansion into England?
London was fast developing as an international financial centre and in the 1860s the Scottish banks began to open offices there. This provoked a storm of protest from the English banks but their protests were overcome. In 1874 the Clydesdale Bank opened three offices in the north of England. This provoked howls of outrage from English bankers and the government appointed a committee of enquiry. Evidence was taken but no report was produced. Nevertheless, the Clydesdale, and the other Scottish banks which were about to follow its example, abandoned their plans to open English branch networks and there the matter stood for a century. The Scots confined themselves to Scotland, apart from their London offices, and the English banks agreed not to open north of the border.  This was an important decision because, at that time, banking was under-developed in England and it seems that the Scots would have had the strength to stage takeover bids for many of the English banks. Over the next 30 years the English banks, by processes of merger, acquisition and takeover, and also by extensive branch opening policies, consolidated their position and there emerged the 'Big Five". By 1913, the Midland Bank was the largest bank in the world.

Before and After World II
Towards the end of the First World War some of the English banks turned their attention to Scotland and Ireland and began a process of acquisition of domestic banks. Four of Scotland's eight banks were taken over in this way although these take-overs were referred to as 'affiliations" and the Scottish banks retained their own identities, note issues and boards of directors. There does not appear to have been much direct interference in the activities of these affiliated banks by their English parents.  The inter-war period was a mixed blessing for the banks. Deposits grew healthily as the savings ratio held up very well. The branch system increased by 50% in numbers of branches, but lending suffered badly. Banks drew heavily on their reserves but were generally very supportive of their customers.  An easing of government controls in the 1960s led to steadier growth of business and the banks voluntarily abandoned their cartel and began to compete more actively for business. The result of this was a dramatic growth in the number of services, including credit cards and cheque guarantee cards. Within a relatively short period banking was transformed into a more dynamic, customer-conscious and cost-conscious industry. Further merger activity took place in the late 1960s and early 1970s, reducing the number of banks to three. Only the Clydesdale, the smallest of the three, remained under English control - until it was sold to the National Australia Bank in 1987

Restructuring of the Savings Banks
The Savings Bank movement also underwent a period of great change in the 1970s and 1980s. The largest UK savings bank was The Savings Bank of Glasgow but most of the others were quite small, with only a few branches, and local business. Some diversification into current accounts in the 1960s had met with great success but there was a genuine concern in the industry that a large proportion of accounts were unprofitable.  These concerns were articulated in the Page Report (1973) which recommended that the movement should be concentrated in regional banks under a holding company and that the resultant organisations should become competitive with the commercial banks and offer a wider range of services, both to personal and corporate customers.  The structural changes were introduced in 1975 and the new business activities came gradually over the next few years. It was then announced that the bank would be sold to the public. This was a controversial move as, until then, it had been assumed, by many people, that the banks were mutual organisations which were owned by their depositors.  Nevertheless, the privatisation went ahead in 1986 and was accompanied by further restructuring which resulted in there being just one bank - TSB Bank Scotland PLC. The share capital of this organisation was acquired by Lloyds Bank in 1995.

Other Developments
The more competitive banking environment resulted in a more diversified structure. In the 1970s English banks began to open branches north of the border and the Scots opened branches in England. The English incursion amounted to very little and was never any attempt to establish extensive branch networks. The Scots excursion into England was of a more substantial nature and the Royal Bank decided to dispense with the name of its England subsidiary and merge it fully into the Royal Bank. This made it a truly UK organisation.   Merchant banks - such as Noble, Grossart and Co - began to be formed. These banks, traditionally found only in London, provided specialised services for corporate clients. Bank of Scotland, which had acquired the old British Linen Bank in 1971, re-launched its merchant bank subsidiary using the old name. Overseas banks also began come to Scotland, mainly to Edinburgh, attracted largely by the opportunities for doing business in an oil producing country. There are now over 50 banks, recognised by the Bank of England, operating in Scotland.  The tremendous growth of competition in the 1970s and 1980s happily coincided with great strides forward in the availability of electronic technology. The Scottish banks were eager developers and purchasers of the new technology and soon acquired a reputation as innovators. Just as they had developed new forms of business in the 18th century, the Scottish banks in the late 20th century are, if anything, even more innovative.

Legal Tender
An interesting feature of the Scottish banknotes issue has been the fact that they have never, apart from under temporary provisions introduced in both World Wars, been "legal tender" even in Scotland, although they are, of course, accepted as legal currency. Today, in fact, no banknotes whatsoever (including Bank of England notes!) qualifies for the term "legal tender" north of the Border and the Scottish economy seems to manage without that legal protection. It should be noted that all Scottish bank notes, even designs which are no longer issued or by banks which no longer operate can still be redeemed by the banks which issued them (or which subsequently took them over). Of course, if you have old notes they may well be worth more than face value to a note collector!

Innovation
With a population which has grown to a (current) level of only around 5 million, Scotland has earned an enviable reputation as a centre of excellence for financial services. Edinburgh is the fourth largest financial centre in Europe (after London, Frankfurt and Paris). Much of this reputation has arisen from its history of innovation over the last three hundred years. Here are just some of the "firsts"
-1695 - Bank of Scotland Britain's first joint stock clearing bank, established by Act of Scots Parliament.
-1728 - On 31 May, 1728, the Royal Bank of Scotland invents the overdraft, one of the most versatile and imaginative innovations in modern banking. It allows a William Hogg, merchant in the High Street Edinburgh, to take out of his account up to £1000 (£65,449 in today's value) more than he has in it.
-1750 - British Linen Bank (a Scottish bank, despite its name) began building up branch networks, unknown elsewhere in the world and the basis for the unusual stability of the Scottish banking system which led Karl Marx to observe that capitalism created banking crises, except in Scotland.
-1777 - A Scottish bank becomes the first in Europe to print multi-coloured banknotes - the head of the king is printed in red and a special graphic for the denomination in blue.
-1810 - World's first mutual savings bank formed in Dumfriesshire from which the world wide mutual savings bank movement emerged.
-1826 - Royal Bank pioneers double-sided printing of banknotes.
-1875 - Chartered Institute of Bankers in Scotland formed - the first professional organisation for bankers in the world.
-1946 - In answer to the request of one of its customers, National Bank of Scotland launches the world's first mobile bank. It uses a Studebaker van left behind by the US forces pay corps.
-1954 - Royal Bank is the first British Bank to move into hire purchase.
-1958 - Bank of Scotland is the first UK bank to set up centralised accounting unit and in 1961 was amongst the first to install a computer.
-1964 - The Royal Bank becomes the first bank in Britain and the second in the world to set up a ladies branch (First one was in New Zealand)
-1967 - Scotland's first cash dispenser was installed at the Royal Bank's Edinburgh West End Office.
-1972 - Royal Bank of Scotland is the first UK bank to offer house purchase loan schemes for customers.
-1972 - Williams & Glyn's, the wholly owned subsidiary of the Royal Bank operating in England and Wales, becomes the first British bank to offer free banking to customers who keep their account in credit.
-1972 - Bank of Scotland first UK bank to be involved in the financing of the first oil development in the North Sea (Forties Field)
-1980 - In the early 1980's the Bank of Scotland developed a particular expertise for funding senior debt for Management Buy-Outs and in the period from 1990 is the leading provider of senior debt finance in the UK.
-1980 - Royal Bank Cashline becomes the busiest ATM system in the world in terms of how frequently each machine is used and how much money is taken out each time.
-1985 - Royal Bank becomes the first British bank to underwrite insurance as it sets up Direct Line Insurance. Within 10 years it is Britain's largest ever car insurance and diversifies into household insurance and other financial services.
-1985 - Bank of Scotland pioneers home and office banking with HOBS. (Home and Office Banking System)
-1989 - Royal Bank acquires Citizens Financial of Rhode Island, USA in what turns out to be the most effective move by a British bank into North America. Citizens leaps from assets US$2.5 billion to US$15 billion in six years - and still rising.
-1990 - IBOS (Inter-bank On-line System) is developed by Royal Bank of Scotland and Banco Santander to provide a cross-border European banking service that is speedy, economical and transparent.
-1991 - Royal Bank pilots Britain's first photo-card with photographs of customers laser etched with their signatures into the plastic of the card. Within eighteen months, photographs prove effective cutting fraud to 1 percent of normal rate and are extended throughout network and later to credit cards.
-1991 - Royal Bank of Scotland issues a special £1 note to commemorate the European Summit held at the Palace of Holyroodhouse. This is the first commemorative note to be issued in Britain or indeed the European Union.
-1994 - Cashline launched Britain's first mobile cash-dispenser, which made its appearance at the Open golf Championship at Turnberry.
-1995 - Royal Bank underwrites Scotland's largest corporate takeover bid - the successful acquisition of Manweb by Scottish Power.
-1997 - Bank of Scotland provides the banking expertise for the UK's first supermarket bank - Sainsbury's Bank
-1997 - Royal Bank is the first bank or Building Society to offer all cash machine card holders access to their Cashline network - 22,000 ATM's in UK now available to Royal Bank customers.

Summary
Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries the Scots exported their banking system and their bankers to all corners of the world. The Scottish banker became a component of the Scottish diaspora every bit as important as the doctor, the engineer and the missionary. As in so many aspects of life, the attention which the Scots paid to the importance of education was manifest in the formation of the Institute of Bankers in Scotland in 1875 - the world's oldest professional body for practising bankers. The professionalism of Scottish bankers was therefore a major factor in the superior performance of the Scottish banks in the recession of the 1990s.

JUST FELT I HAD TO PUT THIS IN - DO YOU REMEMBER?????? -Robin
Reminder to protect your pipes from cold weather
Scottish Water is reminding householders and businesses to follow its simple winter code to protect their pipes and keep the water cycle running smoothly.  The Scottish Water winter campaign, recommends a three-point guide to help avoid the misery, inconvenience and cost of failing to be prepared and take measures to prevent frozen or burst pipes caused by freezing conditions.  The Scottish Water Winter Code advises anyone with a home, holiday home or business premises to take action to heat, insulate and protect their properties, whether the property is old or new.  If householders are going away or businesses closing over the festive period, and properties will be left empty, you should turn off the water supply and drain the system.  Scottish Water’s winter campaign is being supported by an information leaflet (available to download at our website www.scottishwater.co.uk/winter) that provides important and helpful guidance on what steps to take to help prevent a frozen or burst pipe, how to locate a stop valve, what to do in an emergency and how Scottish Water can help.  Peter Farrer, Scottish Water’s Chief Operating Officer, said: “Anyone who has returned to their house or work to find everything ankle deep in freezing water with carpets, furniture and equipment all ruined, will know only too well of the misery a burst pipe in winter can cause.  But by taking action to heat, insulate and protect properties, customers can avoid the considerable headache and heartache caused by burst pipes. We want to work with our customers to ensure we are all prepared for the sort of weather conditions that have been forecast.  “Preventing frozen pipes also means we all play a part in ensuring the water cycle never stops. Water is a precious resource and Scottish Water puts a lot of work into keeping it that way. Water pouring straight back into the drains as a result of a burst pipe that could have been prevented costs us all money.”

£1.25m Added to Fund to Lure Film-makers to Scotland

An additional £1.25 million will be provided to encourage film and TV production in Scotland, Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop has revealed.  The funding, sourced from the Scottish Government and the National Lottery and routed through Creative Scotland, takes the total sum allocated to the Production Growth Fund to £3 million since it was set up in September 2015.  The fund aims to provide an incentive for major film and TV producers to work in Scotland, employing Scottish talent, providing skills development, supporting local economies and growing the creative and tourism industries.  Through the funding, Creative Scotland is already supporting large-scale feature films such as T2: Trainspotting, Churchill and high-end TV dramas Loch Ness and In Plain Sight which are being produced in the country.  The news comes after a record £52.7 million was spent by film and television producers in Scotland in 2015 - a figure up from £45.8 million the previous year.  Ms Hyslop said: "Incentivising major film and TV productions to come to Scotland makes strong economic sense. Every major project filmed here boosts our local and wider creative economy, enhances our international reputation and can attract thousands of new visitors. Scotland's exceptionally talented screen sector has proven time and time again it has the skills to deliver world-class films, and our scenery has provided a breathtaking backdrop to many a Hollywood blockbuster."

Donald Trump Portrayed Himself As Saviour of Scotland During Lobbying Campaign

Donald Trump portrayed himself as the saviour of Scotland during an intense lobbying campaign against plans for an offshore wind project near his golf resort.  The US president-elect sent a series of letters to then first minister Alex Salmond, warning about the impact the "monstrous" turbines would have, and told the former SNP leader the "insanity" of the project would bankrupt Scotland.  He told Mr Salmond he would be known as "Mad Alex - the man who destroyed Scotland" if he went ahead with the plan. Mr Trump said the "craziness" would also damage Mr Salmond's hopes for Scottish independence. In a series of colourfully-written letters Mr Trump voiced his concerns to the Scottish government about the development, complaining it would spoil the view from his golf resort at the Menie estate on the Aberdeenshire coast. On September 14 2011 he told Mr Salmond: "Its adverse visual impact on my development and the beautiful Aberdeen coastline will be disastrous and environmentally irresponsible."  Less than a fortnight later he sent a one-sentence missive to the then first minister asking why Swedish energy firm Vattenfall was being allowed to "ruin" the Scottish coastline, adding: "Let them ruin the coastline of Sweden first."  He added that he would never support "this insanity" and said he was motivated by his family ties to Scotland.  "Please understand that I am doing this to save Scotland and honour my mother, Mary MacLeod who, as you know, was born and raised in Stornoway. She would not believe what you are doing to her beloved Scotland!"  Vattenfall is now going ahead with the £300 million construction of Scotland's largest offshore wind test and demonstration facility after Mr Trump's efforts - including a Supreme Court challenge - failed.

Scotland Exceeds Renewable Energy Target

Renewable sources delivered the equivalent of 59.4 per cent of Scotland’s gross electricity consumption in 2015 – up from 49.9 per cent in 2014.  This means that the 2015 50 per cent renewable electricity target has been met and exceeded.  Renewable sources of electricity generation in 2015 were up 14 per cent on 2014 and are again the single largest contributor to electricity generation in Scotland at a record 42 per cent of Scotland’s total output (including exports) – higher than both nuclear (35 per cent) and fossil fuels (22 per cent), statistics published today have revealed.  Scotland continued to be a net exporter of electricity, exporting 29 per cent of all electricity generation in 2015, while Scotland’s renewable generation made up approximately 26 per cent of the total UK renewable output in 2015.  Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy Paul Wheelhouse said: “Today’s figures show that Scotland’s renewable energy sector is stronger than ever and our early adoption of clean, green energy technology and infrastructure was the right thing to do. It is fantastic news that renewables are now, for the first time, Scotland’s biggest electricity generator, and that just under 60 per cent of Scotland’s gross electricity demand could be met by renewables.  Despite damaging policy changes from the UK Government, which we continue to seek to have reviewed, we will continue to harness – and bolster – Scotland’s renewables potential, both in generation and infrastructure. At the end of Q3 2016, there was 8.3 G W of installed renewables electricity capacity in Scotland, an increase of 8 per cent over the year.” Jenny Hogan, Director of Policy at industry body Scottish Renewables, said: “These figures are great news for the UK – and great news for Scotland in particular. Despite the closure of Cockenzie coal-fired power station in March 2013 Scotland is exporting a record proportion of its electricity generation to the rest of the UK, in large part thanks to the growth of renewables. However future progress is hugely uncertain, with large scale onshore wind, solar and hydro power all locked out of UK government schemes to support investment in new electricity generation capacity.”