Scottish Economy

Scotland – in the House of Commons am ar 24 Ionawr 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Kerry McCarthy Kerry McCarthy Shadow Minister (Climate Change and Net Zero)

What recent steps his Department has taken to help support the Scottish economy.

Photo of John Lamont John Lamont The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland

Supporting economic growth in Scotland remains a core priority of the Scotland Office. We are focused on long-term economic growth, generating more jobs and boosting business investment. That is exemplified by investment of up to £372 million in the Scottish freeport and investment zones programmes, on top of our £1.5 billion-worth of investment into growth deals across the whole of Scotland.

Photo of Kerry McCarthy Kerry McCarthy Shadow Minister (Climate Change and Net Zero)

The former right hon. Member for Kingswood and Government net zero tsar, Chris Skidmore, said that what businesses and investors need from the Government is certainty, clarity, consistency and continuity. Never has that been more true than in Scotland, where there is huge potential for businesses and communities to flourish as a result of the green transition. However, they are not getting the certainty, clarity, consistency and continuity that they need from this Government, are they?

Photo of John Lamont John Lamont The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland

I do not accept that analysis. For example, the UK has a world-leading ambition to deploy up to 50 GW of offshore wind by the year 2030, with up to 5 GW coming from offshore floating wind. Offshore wind provides secure, domestically generated electricity and will play a key role in decarbonising the UK power system by 2035, achieving net zero by 2050. I do not share the hon. Lady’s analysis of this Government’s focus in that area.

Photo of Kevin Foster Kevin Foster Ceidwadwyr, Torbay

Does the Minister share my frustration that, while his Department is working to support the Scottish economy, the SNP is hitting it with higher taxes and is not supporting vital sectors such as hospitality in the way that is happening in England?

Photo of John Lamont John Lamont The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. Sadly the SNP’s sole focus seems to be independence referendums and making Scotland the part of the United Kingdom with the highest tax. I see that every day of the week in my constituency, as people find it increasingly difficult to justify remaining in Scotland when they are paying so much more tax compared with the rest of the UK while getting less good public services.

Photo of Ian Murray Ian Murray Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland

I join the Minister in passing on our condolences to the Secretary of State and his family on their bereavement. I also wish everyone a happy Burns day for tomorrow. I thank the wonderful Ayrshire musicians in the Public Gallery, who treated us to some entertainment last night.

Since the Government have been in power, working people have paid on average 10p on the pound more in tax. The supposed party of low tax has created the highest tax burden on working people in 70 years, making this the biggest tax-raising Parliament since records began. In Scotland, the SNP has looked at that tax burden and said, “Hold my beer,” as everyone earning more than £28,000 pays even more tax than they would in England. What impact does the Minister think that historically high tax burden has on the Scottish economy?

Photo of John Lamont John Lamont The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland

The Government remain focused on reducing the tax burden when it is prudent to do so, but as the hon. Gentleman identifies, we have an additional challenge in Scotland in the high tax agenda put forward by the SNP Scottish Government. I share his concerns about the impact that that is having on the ability of the Scottish economy to perform to its full potential.

Photo of Ian Murray Ian Murray Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland

The Minister seems to think that having your pocket picked for £10 and getting £2 back is something to be grateful for. The fact is that working people all across the country, including in Scotland, are paying for the Tories’ crashing of the economy. We know that the Barnett formula results in an additional £19 billion of public spending in Scotland’s economy, but last week The National reported that the SNP was being encouraged by its sister party in Wales to join the campaign to ditch the funding formula.

Sixteen years of SNP Government have left Scotland’s public finances with a £1 billion black hole. We are in the middle of the worst cost of living crisis in generations, yet historically high taxes are already being imposed on working people to pay for it. Losing the Barnett formula would devastate Scotland’s public finances and economy like nothing we have seen before. Will the Minister join me in demanding that the SNP rule out the policy to bin the Barnett formula?

Photo of John Lamont John Lamont The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland

The biggest enemy of the Barnett formula and of devolution in Scotland is the SNP. It wants to rip up the devolution settlement and stop the Barnett formula, which results in millions of pounds of extra investment going into Scotland each year. The Conservative Government remain absolutely committed to devolution, the Barnett formula and more investment into Scotland.