My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and I firmly believe that Scotland is the ideal destination for international inward investment, and we have taken a range of actions to promote such investment. My right hon. Friend recently led the largest ever Scottish trade delegation to Brazil to promote closer business links with a key emerging market for the Scottish economy.
Does my hon. Friend accept that, in an ever more competitive world, uncertainty about independence has not helped the cause of Scotland or any other part of the United Kingdom that is seeking to attract much-needed inward investment?
I entirely agree with my hon. Friend, which is why I believe it is better that a referendum on Scottish independence be held sooner rather than later.
In contrast to the previous intervention, will the Minister acknowledge that international companies investing in Scotland since the re-election of the Scottish National party Scottish Government include INEOS, PetroChina, Dell, Gamesa, Amazon, Hewlett Packard and Mitsubishi Power Systems? Does he acknowledge that and welcome the investment?
I acknowledge that those companies have invested in spite of the uncertainty. We should consider the level of investment that Scotland could achieve if there was not that uncertainty.
That is the usual mantra that we hear from the Government Benches. Will the Minister respond to Scotland’s leading entrepreneur, Jim McColl, who said on this very subject that business is “not concerned” about the
“independence referendum…What many of us in business are convinced about is that a productive and prosperous future for this country depends on securing real economic powers for the Parliament through constitutional change”?
Will the UK Government drop their foolish conditions, so that we can secure that change in the autumn of 2014?
I am sure the hon. Gentleman will agree that Mr McColl is entitled to his opinion, as is any other citizen of Scotland. I am sure you will encourage them, as your own party’s Scottish Government already have, to contribute to our consultation on the independence referendum.
Order. Let me just point out to the Minister that I do not have my own Scottish Government.
Does my hon. Friend believe that were Scotland to become separate from the United Kingdom, and were it to be forced to join the eurozone as a condition of re-entry into the European Union, that would hinder or help inward investment into Scotland?
Uncertainty over Scotland’s position in the EU, and uncertainty over which currency Scotland would use if it were ever to become independent, would certainly hinder inward investment into Scotland.