Stirling and Clackmannanshire City Region Deal

Part of Finance Committee – in the House of Commons at 10:21 pm on 18th February 2019.

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Photo of Nigel Adams Nigel Adams Assistant Whip, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales 10:21 pm, 18th February 2019

My hon. Friend is absolutely right in that regard. We are committed to having 100% coverage of Scotland. As he will be aware, a commitment to the Moray growth deal was announced at the Budget. It involves some very exciting projects, including an energy pipeline, employability programmes for service families and a college hub looking at innovation in manufacturing. While the figure has not yet been clarified, the Treasury has provisionally agreed a sum of around £25 million for that growth deal, which I am sure he and hon. Friends will welcome.

To get back to the Stirling and Clackmannanshire deal, the UK Government are pleased to be supporting the University of Stirling’s international reputation as a centre of excellence for aquaculture, with an offer of investment in new facilities that will not only safeguard the sector in Scotland and Wales—it can be very significant in supporting rural employment in often remote areas—but allow our world-class researchers to develop technologies that we will be able to export around the world.

In speaking about developing the infrastructure at Stirling, which will have an international focus, I of course want to take this opportunity to commend to my hon. Friends the excellent facilities at the Centre for Sustainable Aquatic Research at Swansea University. As the UK Government Minister for Wales, it would be remiss of me not to slip that into this speech about the Stirling and Clackmannanshire growth deal.

We are also supporting the establishment of the international environment centre, which will take full advantage of the natural environment and heritage of the region to bring together academic expertise from across Scotland to explore some of the key challenges of our age.

The region already represents a major draw for visitors, and local partners have been clear about their desire to do even more in that regard. Of course, any visitor to Scotland will know there is nothing more emblematic than tartan, which is why the UK Government are delighted to provide the investment needed to build the Scottish tartan centre. I am not yet aware of a particular Adams tartan. I hope that there will be one, and if I say that loud enough during the debate, perhaps someone will do a bit of research. However, I would be more than delighted to come up when the Scottish tartan centre is open—if my hon. Friend is brave enough, I will even put the relevant tartan on as well. The centre will provide an historical narrative encapsulating key developments in the history and evolution of tartan, along with related themes that will engage with a diverse audience. I am sure that hundreds of thousands of people will flock to his area to view this fantastic centre.

We are doing further work to identify additional projects in the Clackmannanshire Council area, and those will be worth around £8 million, as we have heard. I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Ochil and South Perthshire on everything he has done to help secure that additional money from the Treasury. It is no easy feat wrestling money from the Treasury, so he should be commended.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland is planning on announcing more details on that deal shortly. As part of the deal, we are pleased to be releasing some surplus MOD land for development in the centre of Stirling, and the Department for Work and Pensions is running a bespoke scheme in Clackmannanshire to help lone parents return to work.

Let me quickly refer to the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Stirling about the MOD land. At first sight, the land is due to be made available under the defence estates review in 2022, which is well within the 10-year scope of the deal. The office of the Secretary of State for Scotland and the MOD are working together to ensure that the land at Forthside is ready to be released in a fit state.

On my hon. Friend’s other very valid point, I would just like to politely remind him that the UK Government are committed to Scotland—it is not a case of devolve and walk away. As I have said previously, the UK Government have committed over £1.2 billion to support development in Scotland through the city and growth deal programme. That is what I call real commitment.

These investments represent a significant package that will help to transform the economies of Stirling, Clackmannanshire and Scotland. Growth deals should be transformational and show the real benefits that can be brought about when Scotland’s two Governments work together instead of pulling apart—[Interruption.] I agree with Jim Shannon that we are much better together.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland signed the heads of terms for the deal in May last year and expects to agree the full deal in the summer. That will herald a 15-year programme of investment and growth that will bring real and tangible benefits to all those who live and work across the region. My hon. Friend the Member for Stirling is right. He wants to see hi-vis jackets and spades in the ground: I am happy to go up there with a spade and break the ground myself if necessary. In my view, the deal will be the engine that drives the whole of Scotland forward.

Question put and agreed to.

House adjourned.