Scottish Enterprise

Oral Answers to Questions — Scotland – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 7th September 2004.

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Photo of Alistair Darling Alistair Darling The Secretary of State for Scotland, The Secretary of State for Transport

First, I congratulate the hon. Gentleman on his good fortune in being elected leader of his party for the second time. It is good to see him leading from London, and we look forward to his doing that for many months.

Secondly, the hon. Gentleman knows that the funding, direction and oversight of the enterprise networks is a matter for the Scottish Executive, although I have, of course, met the chief executive of Scottish Enterprise on a number of occasions.

Photo of Alex Salmond Alex Salmond Parliamentary Leader (Westminster), Spokesperson (Constitutional Affairs; Treasury), Leader, Scottish National Party

I thank the Secretary of State for his good wishes—I am full-time and elected as opposed to part-time and appointed, like him. I also thank Labour Back Benchers for their enthusiastic support—although it is also worrying.

Returning to the substantial issue, which was raised earlier, of renewable energy and, in particular, Talisman, the Secretary of State will have noticed that Talisman has cited transmission charges of £20 per kilowatt as the greatest single threat to the viability of the Beatrice offshore wind farm. Will he explain why generators in the north of Scotland must pay £20 or more per kilowatt while generators in the south of England are subsidised at a rate of £9 per kilowatt? How will the Secretary of State address that threat to thousands of Scottish jobs, billions of pounds of investment and Scotland's potential as the renewables capital of Europe?

Photo of Alistair Darling Alistair Darling The Secretary of State for Scotland, The Secretary of State for Transport

Labour Members are enthusiastic about the hon. Gentleman's election because he did not win a single general election as leader last time. On the matter of substance, I said to John Thurso, who speaks for the Liberals, that it is important to make sure that the transmission charge regime is fair in order to encourage the development of renewable energy. One of the new scheme's advantages is that the Scottish interconnector charges will go, but Mr. Salmond is right that we must ensure that the regime is fair, so that we can generate renewable energy and other types of energy for sale in England, which is important for the industry's future.

Photo of Brian H Donohoe Brian H Donohoe Labour, Cunninghame South

When my right hon. Friend met Scottish Enterprise, did he raise the Lyons review, in which, as it stands, Ayrshire is not included? What can be done about that and when will a report on the implications of the dispersal of public service jobs be produced?

Photo of Alistair Darling Alistair Darling The Secretary of State for Scotland, The Secretary of State for Transport

My hon. Friend has met me to make the case for development in Ayr. As I told him, the object of the Lyons review is to encourage more dispersal of jobs away from Whitehall to other parts of the country. In relation to Scotland, while there are obviously advantages in putting jobs where centres already exist, it is also important that we consider other sites around the country, particularly those where jobs and development are needed. I am very much aware of my hon. Friend's point about Ayrshire, and I shall certainly bear it in mind.