The Economy

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:33 pm on 24th October 2019.

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Photo of Kirsty Blackman Kirsty Blackman Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Economy), SNP Deputy Leader 1:33 pm, 24th October 2019

One of the first political moments I remember came when Jack McConnell was talking about Scotland’s population dipping and about the massive concerns there were around the millennium about its population going below 5 million; I think that was the number at the time. I recall hearing that and thinking, even as a 14-year-old in 2000, how devastating it was. I am so pleased that we have had the freedom of movement that has come as part of the EU.

My kids go to school with so many children from so many countries around the world, and a huge number of them are from the EU. They are living in Aberdeen. Outside London, Aberdeen has the highest percentage of non-UK-born people in the UK, which is amazing for a place that people think is quite far away. Actually, we are pretty good at attracting people. But we struggle with the immigration rules. Every week people come to my office and sit around my table crying because the UK Government are saying that, despite the fact that they have jumped through every possible hoop that has been put in front of them, they are not able to stay and they must return to Nigeria, Poland or whichever country it is that they originate from. This UK Government are attempting to make that situation worse, not better.

I wish to look at the economic impact of failing to support technologies that help to meet our climate change targets. In Scotland, we have the skills, ability, capacity and geography to become world leaders in these technologies, but we need the UK Government to stop messing around and to take their responsibilities seriously. We must have immediate action to support and invest in carbon capture and storage technologies. We are uniquely placed, with our geology, to capitalise on this and to become world leaders in this space, and we cannot have the situation that happened when George Osborne was in the Treasury: he pulled funding at the last moment for these vital future technologies for our country.

We also need the UK Government to take their responsibilities seriously on this. They cannot just set a target of 2050 and then refuse to set out a plan for how they are going to get there. They should look at what the Scottish Government have done on the green new deal, which sets our targets and makes clear how we are going to reach our target of 2045, rather than just having an arbitrary, pie-in-the-sky target. As my hon. Friend Deidre Brock said, the UK Government are doing lots of talk, but no actual action. So we would like them actually to take action through the environment Bill.