International Inward Investment

Oral Answers to Questions — Scotland – in the House of Commons at 11:30 am on 2nd July 2014.

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Photo of Mike Freer Mike Freer Conservative, Finchley and Golders Green 11:30 am, 2nd July 2014

What assessment he has made of the potential for international inward investment in Scotland after 2014.

Photo of Alistair Carmichael Alistair Carmichael The Secretary of State for Scotland

As part of the United Kingdom, Scotland has an impressive track record of attracting international inward investment, which recent figures have put at its highest level for 16 years. Scotland has strong potential to build on that record as part of the UK, the No. 1 location for Europe-bound foreign investment.

Photo of Mike Freer Mike Freer Conservative, Finchley and Golders Green

Does my right hon. Friend agree that inward investment is boosted by Scotland being part of a single market and having a single currency?

Photo of Alistair Carmichael Alistair Carmichael The Secretary of State for Scotland

Indeed; I do agree with my hon. Friend. The people of Scotland very much understand that access to the pound sterling as our currency and access to that larger UK market benefit them, and they value them, especially the business community. We know that, because that is why the nationalists are constantly telling us that even in independence we would still be able to keep those things. They are wrong; it is cynical; and as we saw from yesterday’s poll, nobody is really being fooled by it.

Photo of Brian H Donohoe Brian H Donohoe Labour, Central Ayrshire

However, it is the case that inward investment is faltering. I have had experience after experience of talking to foreigners who are not investing in Scotland as a result of the uncertainties and the possible likely divorce. Are we not by far better off as a united kingdom than we would be with a separate Scotland?

Photo of Alistair Carmichael Alistair Carmichael The Secretary of State for Scotland

We are very much better off as a result of being part of the United Kingdom, and I long for the day when again Ministers here and in Edinburgh can all concentrate on doing their day job of working together to get the maximum benefit to Scotland and

Scotland’s economy, and jobs for the people of Scotland that come from inward investment—instead of a referendum distraction.

Photo of John Thurso John Thurso Chair, Finance and Services Committee, Chair, Finance and Services Committee

My right hon. Friend will be well aware that marine renewable energy presents a considerable opportunity for inward international investment as well as for export, based on the knowledge we have acquired. In that regard, it is vital that MeyGen’s project goes ahead. What discussions has he had with either the Department of Energy and Climate Change or the Crown Estate to enable that to happen?

Photo of Alistair Carmichael Alistair Carmichael The Secretary of State for Scotland

I have had a number of discussions, as I think my hon. Friend is aware, involving my colleagues in DECC and in the Crown Estate. I am very keen to ensure that no procedural difficulties will stand in the way of the development from MeyGen, which, as he and I both know, is a very exciting and potentially lucrative development for his area.

Photo of Angus Robertson Angus Robertson Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Defence), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Foreign and Commonwealth Office), Shadow SNP Westminster Group Leader

Inward investment into Scotland is at a 16-year high under a Scottish National party Government and in the run-up to an independence referendum. That contrasts with all the claims of doom and gloom from the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Given that the UK Government were spectacularly wrong in their claims on inward investment, why should anybody trust the myriad Westminster scare stories?

Photo of Alistair Carmichael Alistair Carmichael The Secretary of State for Scotland

I am delighted that the hon. Gentleman gives me the opportunity to remind the House that of the 111 inward investment projects that were successful in 2012-13, 84 were supported by UK Trade & Investment. That is the sort of heft that is given to Scottish business by being part of the United Kingdom; that is what he wants us to walk away from.

Photo of Angus Robertson Angus Robertson Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Defence), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Foreign and Commonwealth Office), Shadow SNP Westminster Group Leader

The UK Government have launched a confrontational approach to the European Union. The Prime Minister went to Brussels last week and was outvoted 26 to 2. If smaller countries have no say in the European Union, why is it that a Luxembourger is the new President of the European Commission—from a country smaller than the city of Glasgow?

Photo of Alistair Carmichael Alistair Carmichael The Secretary of State for Scotland

I will take absolutely no lectures from the Scottish nationalists on the subject of confrontational approaches. It really is a mark of the desperation of the position in which they find themselves that that is the best they can come up with.

Photo of Anne McGuire Anne McGuire Labour, Stirling

The Secretary of State commented on the Ernst and Young report, and it also identified that although investment was increasing, the number of jobs related to that inward investment was decreasing. I wonder what action the Minister can take, hopefully in co-operation with the Scottish Government, to ensure that there is greater correlation between investment and jobs created in Scotland.

Photo of Alistair Carmichael Alistair Carmichael The Secretary of State for Scotland

The right hon. Lady points to a direction in which sensible politics ought to go, and I would love to be working in that way with the Scottish Government. Unfortunately, however, it takes two to tango.