What conclusion does my hon. Friend draw from those record levels, from the forthcoming announcement about the massive Hyundai project and from the general outlook for economic activity and tax matters?
I think that my hon. Friend meant the recent and not the forthcoming announcement about Hyundai. The Hyundai project has already been announced, and it is excellent news for the Dunfermline area. There will be 2,000 new jobs and inward investment of £2.4 billion, which is the largest ever in Europe.
My hon. Friend is right—companies come to Scotland because it is a competitive, low-tax country. The Opposition's proposals will be bad for inward investment: whether it be their spending pledges, which it is reckoned will increase taxation by 9p, the extra 3p that they intend to impose through a tartan tax, their proposals for a uniform business rate, which will be an extra tax on business, or their trade tax. We would not continue to attract the record levels of investment that we currently enjoy under the Government.
The hon. Gentleman should give inward investors a little more credit than that. They possibly look a little further ahead. They do not believe that the Labour party will win the next general election: they believe that the Government, with their beneficial policies for business and for the economy in Scotland, will continue for many years to come.
On the matter of incentives, does my hon. Friend agree that it is right to bring it home to the House and to Scotland that no one would want to come to a country where income tax was 9p higher, the tartan tax was 3p and where there was an unknown trade tax, all of which have been proposed by Labour? Those proposals must be the biggest disincentive for anyone to come to Scotland that there has ever been.
My right hon. Friend is right. Businesses are concerned about their competitiveness. All businesses must exist in a highly competitive marketplace, so anything that makes them less competitive is bad. The social chapter, the minimum wage and the taxes to which my right hon. Friend referred, and which I mentioned earlier, would be bad for competitiveness, and thus bad for business, and would make inward investors think twice before they came to Scotland.
The Minister has talked, not unreasonably, about the jobs that we already secure from inward investment. How does he feel about the threat of what might be described as predatory investment by Norwegian salmon farming companies in Scotland, which might buy up Scottish salmon farms? Those farms are made less viable by the currently plummeting price of salmon.
I accept that the Minister's colleagues in the Scottish Office appear to have been batting for the salmon farming industry, but their view does not seem to be shared throughout Government. What prospect can be offered to the salmon farmers of a minimum import price in the near future, so that they can try to secure the home-based Scottish industry that is so vital?
The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right. Salmon farming is an important industry, particularly in the highlands and islands. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State is already discussing the matter with colleagues, and my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeen, South (Mr. Robertson)—the Minister responsible for fisheries—is going to Norway on Monday to discuss issues relating to the salmon farming industry.
As a firm advocate on behalf of both Ayrshire and Prestwick, my hon. Friend knows only too well that we have recently had significant success with Rohr's investment in Prestwick. We continue to hold discussions with British Aerospace in Prestwick, to ensure that it is given all the support that it needs to develop further. I know that my hon. Friend is also a firm advocate of the air traffic control centre at Prestwick, and I am sure that my colleagues in the Department of Transport are well aware of his concerns.
Is it not the case that, although the Government have 11 per cent. support in Scotland and trail Labour by over 20 per cent. in the United Kingdom, we still have an increase in inward investment? Could it be that those who have invested in Scotland consider their investment worth while because of the impending Labour Government and Scottish Parliament?
I must tell the hon. Gentleman to dream on. As I have said, there is no doubt that businesses that look to Europe and the United Kingdom for investment potential take into account the competitive circumstances that they can enjoy in Scotland. Clearly, anything that is likely to put that in jeopardy—such as higher taxation in Scotland, which is an inevitable consequence of the Opposition's policies—would reduce competitiveness, and make businesses think twice before coming to Scotland.
I can assure the hon. Gentleman that all areas are given equal attention by Locate in Scotland when it comes to inward investment. The decision where to locate is made by inward investors themselves, and they will inevitably consider their individual circumstances in judging where they will find the skilled labour force that they may be seeking, and where they will secure the best access to their marketplace or suppliers. Nevertheless, I can tell the hon. Gentleman that no part of Scotland is not promoted by Locate in Scotland; the whole of Scotland is promoted, and long may that continue.