I rise to speak in this Budget debate, concerned about the unfairness that this Budget has created in this country—concerned that for one part of the country, there remains no tax cut for hard-working people; concerned that in one part of the country, the measures unveiled to support our high streets and SMEs are not being replicated, extra measures to help young people on to the housing ladder will not apply and the potholes will remain unfilled. I speak, of course, of the north-east of Scotland, which suffers under a central-belt-biased, economically illiterate, ideologically dogmatic, anti-aspirational, anti-wealth-creation, anti-business, distracted Administration, who punish the strivers and the grafters while we in the Conservative party reward them. Nurses, doctors, teachers, policemen, entrepreneurs, small business owners, the people that get up at the crack of dawn to open the shops in rural Deeside or Donside and the guys and girls who take off from Aberdeen airport to spend two weeks offshore doing hard, sometimes backbreaking work to maintain our energy supply are punished and taxed more, simply by virtue of living in Scotland. They are the people who this Government—this Conservative party—are committed to supporting.
The SNP’s decision not to match our plans to raise the threshold for the higher rate of income tax means that hard-working people in Scotland will be £1,000 worse off than their counterparts south of the border—£1,000 worse off for doing exactly the same job in the same country. Well, the Scottish Conservatives say, “Enough!” Today, we call on the SNP Administration to match this Government’s commitment to those who deserve a break and pass on this tax cut to the Scottish people.
It is safe to say that, in terms of totemic industries in Scotland, fishing and whisky are probably up there. Add to that brewing, and it makes for quite a good Friday night. All the above are reaping the benefits of decisions made by this Government and in this Budget: beer duty frozen, spirits duty frozen, and for the fishing industry, as we look towards that sea of opportunity that leaving the EU will bring—remembering, of course, that the SNP would have us back in the common fisheries policy—we welcome the £10 million of investment from UK Research and Innovation.
Of course, by far the biggest industry for the north-east of Scotland is the oil and gas industry, and far from the doom and gloom espoused by Drew Hendry, the sector has made it clear to us that the UK Government’s support over the past four to five years has been crucial to ensuring its survival, as it was buffeted by the winds of dramatically fluctuating oil prices and the longest sustained downturn in the sector’s history. The £2.3 billion of support from this UK Government since 2014 has been welcomed—[Interruption.] I would love to hear it welcomed by the hon. Gentleman; perhaps that is what he is trying to say from a sedentary position. I am not sure. That support has been welcomed by an industry that has contributed over £330 billion to the British economy, that supports over 330,000 jobs across the United Kingdom and that has a supply chain worth nearly £30 billion, stretching into every nation and region across our islands—servicing domestic activities and exporting almost £12 billion of goods and services to other basins around the world. It is a shame that the Scottish National party does not support it as the Scottish Conservatives do. That is why I and the wider oil and gas industry and the subsidiary industry that I represent have welcomed this Government’s decision not to increase tax and welcomed its commitment to maintaining fiscal stability.