As my client rightly points out, just who is to police and enforce this scheme, and just what is a "business component"?"The Scottish Government has announced that business-related travel will not be reimbursed under the scheme. Business-related claims are considered and journey where there is a business component, regardless of whether there is also a leisure-related component." (My emphasis)
My good lady and I left the island on Saturday, both carrying laptops. We weren't away for work purposes, but will do some work whilst we were away; after stepping off the third plane. Does that disqualify me; as the first journey was the only one that qualified for ADS, and I did not do any work between flight 1 and 2?
If I take a business phone call in Glasgow Airport after stepping off the Stornoway flight, does that disqualify me? Do I have to turn myself in to the ADS Police?
If I take a business phone call in Stornoway Airport between checking in for an Edinburgh flight, for a client who has heard I'm coming to Edinburgh and wants to see me, do I have to go back and confess all to the FlyBe desk, and ask them to surcharge me?
Is this going to be a civil or criminal matter? How do I appeal against a wrong decision?
My guesses: they'll look for a regular pattern of travel and the civil servants will then stop the card until you persuade them they are wrong, through some undefined and yet to be worked out method.
And who will be the easy first targets? Step forward the offshore workers travelling every fortnight to Aberdeen, regular as clockwork. You might as well hand the ADS cards back now.
But let's not forget the purpose of ADS, as it's website proudly and clearly announces:
- The primary objective is to facilitate greater social inclusion in the most peripheral areas of the Highland and Islands through affordable access to air services to the main economic areas administrative centres of Scotland.
- Other important benefits are potential improvements in capacity and frequency and greater economic growth as a result of improvements in accessibility.
It is all about the Government saving a few pounds here and there, and paying lip service to a policy that it doesn't want to implement properly.
As my client further points out, this might even be illegal, as the Western Isles has a higher percentage of female small business owners than the rest of the Scotland, and a statutory equality impact assessment should have been carried out before the policy was sneaked out.
Can I encourage everyone to think how they might be affected, and then to demand that both leading candidates pledge to reverse this move. They might also want to know why our former MSP has never done anything to stop this massive economic damage to the islands.
The Government can spend huge sums issuing the Census in Gaelic, and celebrating this fact, whilst bringing in policies that will further undermine the viability of the Gaelic speaking areas.