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I always enjoy listening to the Secretary of State; I find him a courteous and well-mannered person who tries to put forward a positive view at all times. I find the same to be the case when I work with his team.
This long-awaited industrial strategy is welcome—it is good to see something—but it lacks the substance that we should see in a document that would make a meaningful difference for people, and it misses the mark on fairness and ambition. I hope to delight Kwasi Kwarteng, because along with my criticisms, of which I have many, I am going to try to be constructive and suggest some points that the Secretary of State might want to consider.
On inclusive growth, the Scottish National party has long argued that ideologically-driven measures not only are harmful to society, but actively hinder business development, growth and investment. Inclusive growth must be at the heart of any economic strategy, yet the Government continue their obsession with a failing austerity dogma, and nothing in the industrial strategy signals a change of direction. The Institute for Fiscal Studies has forecast that austerity could last until the mid-2020s, meaning that Scottish businesses, households and public services could ultimately face 15 years of austerity measures—and that amid the harsh realities of a hard Tory Brexit. The UK is facing the biggest increase in inequality since the 1980s, the worst wage stagnation in 70 years, which the IFS described as “dreadful”, and a huge increase in child poverty as a direct effect of tax and benefit reforms.
In the context of Brexit, the Global Future study was released just today. After looking into all four options available to the Prime Minister, it established that, in the long term, the amount available for spending on public services will fall. Under the so-called Norway option, there would be £262 million less a week. Under the Canada model, there would be £877 million less per week, while under a no-deal scenario, there would be £1.25 billion less per week. For the NHS, there would be 22% less funding available if there was a bespoke deal, and 9%, 31% and 44% less under each of the other options. Of course, it is not just about the public sector. As we have found from speaking to industry after industry and sector after sector, there are many concerns across the piece about the direction of the Brexit negotiations.
Unfortunately, Mr Sweeney is no longer in the Chamber, but I wish to reflect on what he said about Jack McConnell and the post-study work visa. I have a great deal of respect for Jack McConnell, who was and remains a far-sighted politician. He recognised that Scotland requires different measures when it comes to our immigration needs. For many decades, our problem has been one of emigration. We need people to come to Scotland. If we are to retain competitiveness and increase productivity, it is essential that Scotland’s immigration system is outward-looking and that it allows businesses to attract the necessary skills to boost growth and create jobs.