Budget Resolutions - Income Tax (Charge)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:35 pm on 31st October 2018.

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Photo of Douglas Ross Douglas Ross Conservative, Moray 4:35 pm, 31st October 2018

I have sat through the entire debate and thoroughly enjoyed it. There is only one other place where I would like to be today: joining the pupils of Logie Primary School on their beach clean. On Friday, I visited the pupils and staff there, and along with questions about how old I was and whether we could buy some more helicopters, I was asked whether I would join them on that school visit. I had to say that unfortunately I could not, as I was speaking in the Budget debate, but that the least I could do was mention them and their school, which just yesterday received such a glowing Education Scotland report, in today’s Budget debate. I have now done that.

I want to raise a few issues, but before that I would like to mention some of the contributions from Scottish National Members since Monday. It all started with the boorish behaviour of Ian Blackford—we had to endure his 30 minutes. I thought that was bad enough until I listened to Drew Hendry. The hon. Gentleman was not only boorish, but inaccurate: he said that Scotland’s block grant had been cut as a result of this Budget. Yet as I said in my intervention, between this year and next, the Scottish Government block grant will go up in both real and cash terms. That is what is happening to the Scottish Government block grant as a result of this Conservative Government—up £866 million in cash terms and up £381 million in real terms: that is this Westminster Government delivering for Scotland.

I want to focus on a couple of issues in the short time I have. The first for me, as the Member of Parliament for Moray, representing 40% of all Scotch whisky distilleries, is, of course, the freeze in spirits duty. I am delighted to see the Financial Secretary to the Treasury on the Front Bench. He gave me an extremely positive response during Scottish questions on how important it would be for the Government to deliver a positive Budget for Scotch whisky, and the Government have done that. Earlier, the Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury was on the Front Bench; I was delighted to host him in Moray—we went to visit a distillery. The Chief Secretary to the Treasury came to Moray and we visited another distillery. I have also raised the matter personally with the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The only one in the Treasury I did not raise it with was Gladstone the cat—everyone else has heard from me and my Scottish Conservative colleagues about how important freezing spirits duty is for the Scotch whisky industry. That industry has repaid our trust: in the past five years, there has been £500 million of capital investment into Scotch whisky distilleries—that is how the industry has reacted to positive announcements in this Budget and the freeze last year as well.

I also want to thank the Chancellor for the mention of the Moray growth deal in his Budget statement. I have campaigned for that since my election as Member of Parliament. Following the announcement on Monday, I was delighted to see apprentices from Moray unveil a plaque in Cooper park, made from materials from their various trades, saying “MGD”—Moray growth deal—“under construction”. The green light from the Chancellor at the Dispatch Box during his Budget statement has been really well received in my local area. I look forward to working with the Moray growth deal business assembly chair, Michael Urquhart, and all the people, across parties, involved in securing that deal. I have spoken to Treasury Ministers and others about it, and I am excited about the future.

I could talk about many other positive things in the Budget, particularly the increased investment in defence, given that my constituency is home to RAF Lossiemouth and 39 Engineer Regiment at Kinloss. That is extremely important for us in Moray.

I commend the Budget, because it delivers for Moray and it delivers for Scotland. I can only hope that the Scottish National party, when it comes to the Scottish Government’s budget later this year, can deliver in the same way. Sadly, previous experience does not bode well. They have made Scotland the highest taxed part of the United Kingdom. With almost £1 billion extra in this Budget going from Westminster to Holyrood, I hope they will deliver for their areas as this Government have delivered. Sadly, in the past they have decided to cut the amount of money going to Moray Council, and cut the amount of money going to health boards in the north of Scotland. That does not bode well. The ball is in their court to use the extra resources from the Westminster Government.