The Budget of Monday past has been welcomed by many but clearly not by all. I have been asking myself: what will it do for the constituents of Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock? It contains a range of measures that will benefit not just my constituents but the whole of Scotland. The Scottish Government will benefit from a funding boost of almost £l billion. I know my constituents will welcome this increase, and I am sure they will keep a weather eye on how it is spent by the Scottish Government. I hope it will be spent on people projects and not pet projects. Indeed, by 2020 the Scottish Government’s block grant will have grown to over £32 billion before adjustments for tax devolution—a real-terms increase over this spending review period.
Those of my constituents who, like me, enjoy a dram will very much welcome the freeze on spirit duty. I was pleased to see the concerted efforts of Scottish Conservatives and others recognised by the Chancellor. Indeed, he was listening—I am sorry for doubting him. I know that the industry in Scotland will welcome the freeze.
I also know a few individuals in Ayr, not least Messrs Brown and McLoughlin, who enjoy a wee dram and I am sure that they will raise a glass as a result of the freeze on spirit duty. I am not linking the two measures in drinking and driving, but the freeze on fuel duty will always be most welcome, particularly in the rural areas of Scotland.
The national living wage, introduced by a Conservative Government, will now increase to £8.21 per hour.