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The terrorist attacks in the United States have had significant implications for the aviation industry worldwide. It is inevitable that airline operations in Scotland should be similarly affected. The Government have already announced measures to assist airlines in dealing with the immediate implications of the events of
I thank my right hon. Friend for that reply. She may be aware that my constituency, like many in Scotland, is heavily dependent on air and sea transport, so will she assure the House that, following the events of
My hon. Friend makes a valid point. I would expect nothing less from him given the nature of his constituency and its history of shipbuilding. It is important to the economy of Scotland that we have the best possible transport links to our main markets in Europe. I am therefore pleased to announce that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions today agreed in principle to provide £12 million of freight facilities grants to Forth Ports plc and Superfast Ferries SA to establish a ferry link between Rosyth and Zeebrugge in Belgium. The grant is subject to state aid clearance by the European Commission, and that is being sought. The service will save thousands of long-distance lorry journeys on Britain's roads and will be of enormous help to Scotland's exporters.
The Secretary of State will be aware that the Labour Government's privatisation of National Air Traffic Services is predicated on £1 billion of private investment coming from the partner airlines. Following
The events of
My right hon. Friend will be aware that Rolls-Royce has announced some 3,800 redundancies in the United Kingdom as a result of
I understand my hon. Friend's concern. Indeed, she has articulated it to me before. We are all aware of the importance of Rolls-Royce to the economy of the west of Scotland, but all companies that are involved in the aerospace sector need to balance capacity with demand. Yesterday, however, Emirates Airlines announced a £15 billion plane order that will benefit Rolls-Royce to the tune of at least $50 million. That may not have an immediate impact on the redundancy programme, but it is good news for the company and the industry, as is the Lockheed-Martin joint strike fighter announcement. If my hon. Friend wants to bring representatives of the company and work force to meet me and my hon. Friend the Minister of State, I am happy to afford her that facility.
Is the Secretary of State aware that the consumer confidence barometer—a monthly survey compiled for the European Commission—shows an alarming drop in confidence in the UK, including Scotland? That is bad news for the aerospace industry and jobs, as is the Prestwick announcement. Does she know that the figures show the biggest drop in confidence since last year's fuel crisis? Have not increased taxation, increased red tape and increased burdens on business—all of which were introduced by Labour in Scotland—left the aviation industry less well placed to face a world economic downturn?
On confidence in the airline sector, in September 2001 BAA released figures on airport usage in Scotland. Compared with the previous year, passenger numbers through Edinburgh have risen by 13.4 per cent., through Glasgow by 6.9 per cent., through Aberdeen by 0.5 per cent. and through Prestwick by a massive 37.9 per cent., so there is still confidence in the airline sector.
On confidence in the economy overall, we are now seeing the sense of the measures taken by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1997 to introduce stability to the economy and move away from the boom and bust of 18 years of Tory rule. It has never been more important for us to have stability in our economy, as a result of which unemployment in Scotland is at its lowest for 40 years and we have historically low interest rates. There are more people in employment than there have been since Mrs. Lait and I were at Strathclyde university.