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Government Policies: Implications for Scottish Economy

Oral Answers to Questions — Scotland – in the House of Commons on 27th March 2019.

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Photo of Stephen Kerr Stephen Kerr Conservative, Stirling

What discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on the implications of the Government’s policies for the Scottish economy.

Photo of Mel Stride Mel Stride Financial Secretary to the Treasury and Paymaster General

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland has regular discussions with fellow Cabinet Ministers regarding all matters that are of importance to Scotland.

Photo of Stephen Kerr Stephen Kerr Conservative, Stirling

Does my right hon. Friend agree that direct engagement by UK Government Departments, such as the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and the Treasury, in growth deals such as the Stirling and Clackmannanshire city region deal is the best way to ensure that all economic objectives are met?

Photo of Mel Stride Mel Stride Financial Secretary to the Treasury and Paymaster General

May I reassure my hon. Friend that discussions are held right across Whitehall Departments, including those to which he refers, to ensure that the city deal projects, including the Stirling and Clackmannanshire city deal, are as successful as possible? I also recognise the extraordinary amount of work, effort and drive that he has personally put into helping ensure that they are a success.

Photo of Ian Murray Ian Murray Labour, Edinburgh South

The Secretary of State and I had a conversation in the Tea Room on Monday, but given that he is not answering this question I will have to ask about something else. Brexit is obviously the biggest issue with regard to the impact on the Scottish economy, so can the Financial Secretary tell us how much the Scottish economy will shrink by if the Prime Minister’s deal is passed in this House?

Photo of Mel Stride Mel Stride Financial Secretary to the Treasury and Paymaster General

The cross-Government analysis that we have already come forward with shows, as the hon. Gentleman will know, that, on the basis that we are leaving the European Union, by far the best outcome is to support the Prime Minister’s deal.

Photo of Alan Brown Alan Brown Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Transport), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Energy)

Under the Conservative Government, the Scottish budget has been cut by £2.6 billion in real terms over 10 years, and yet the confidence and supply deal with the Democratic Unionist party means that the Barnett formula has been broken to the tune of £3.4 billion. When is Scotland going to get that money?

Photo of Mel Stride Mel Stride Financial Secretary to the Treasury and Paymaster General

The Barnett formula has been honoured. As the hon. Gentleman will know, there are Barnett consequentials where moneys are allocated to devolved matters within England. That is not the case in the recent additional amounts to support the Northern Ireland budget. It is also the case that in the recent autumn Budget the Chancellor announced changes that resulted in an additional £950 million for the Scottish Government.

Photo of Alistair Carmichael Alistair Carmichael Liberal Democrat Chief Whip, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Northern Ireland), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

The economy of rural Scotland would suffer serious damage if the Government’s proposals for tariffs on foodstuff were ever to be implemented. The National Farmers Union of Scotland has called for that to be rethought. Are the Government listening to it?

Photo of Mel Stride Mel Stride Financial Secretary to the Treasury and Paymaster General

The Government are most certainly listening to all those who have concerns about the introduction of tariffs where they are not in existence, as is currently the case between ourselves and the EU27. Once again, that is why the deal that is before the House, which has been negotiated with the European Union, is so important—because that would mean that we would not run into those particular difficulties.

Photo of Lesley Laird Lesley Laird Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland

This question is specifically to the Secretary of State for Scotland. The Secretary of State for Scotland has three responsibilities: strengthening and sustaining the Union; acting as Scotland’s voice in Whitehall; and championing the UK Government in Scotland. Which one does he think he is doing best, and why?

Photo of Mel Stride Mel Stride Financial Secretary to the Treasury and Paymaster General

I have no hesitation in answering on behalf of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, bound as I am to do so, given that I started this series of questions and convention dictates that I have to reply on his behalf. Those are all absolute priorities for my right hon. Friend, and he will continue to speak up for the people of Scotland.

Photo of Lesley Laird Lesley Laird Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland

I have to express the Opposition’s disappointment that the Secretary of State for Scotland is repeatedly not standing up and being accountable. Once again, this question is directly to the Secretary of State for Scotland, because it is he who holds the office, not the right hon. Gentleman sitting next to him.

I am afraid that I have to tell the Secretary of State that I disagree with the previous response. His record is abysmal. He has failed on the stronger towns fund; failed on Brexit funding for Scotland’s businesses; failed to stand up for Scotland’s shipbuilding communities through his non-action on the fleet solid support ships contract; and failed to respect the devolution settlement. He has even failed to follow through on his own resignation threats. Secretary of State, how bad does it need to get for the people of Scotland under this Tory Government before you do the right thing and actually resign?

Photo of Mel Stride Mel Stride Financial Secretary to the Treasury and Paymaster General

I categorically do not accept the points the hon. Lady makes. My right hon. Friend does indeed stand up for Scotland, which is partly why—[Interruption.] The reason why he is not at the Dispatch Box, as the hon. Lady well knows, is to do with the way in which the conventions of the House operate in respect of the answering of questions. She knows that and it is a little unfair of her, if I may say, Mr Speaker, to try to make political capital out of that particular procedural element. My right hon. Friend has stood up for Scotland to the extent that there was £950 million additional budget for Scotland as a consequence of the last autumn Budget, with £1.3 billion going into city growth deals across Scotland. That is to support Scotland, the economy and the Scottish people.