British armed forces personnel in Scotland play a crucial role in defending the whole UK, and my Department meets regularly with the Ministry of Defence to help raise concerns that are specific to Scotland. I feel particularly indebted to the armed forces in Scotland, who keep us safe at home and abroad and who assisted with such dedication at the height of this covid pandemic.
The SNP Government’s decision to make Scotland the highest taxed part of the UK has threatened to put the many brave troops based there out of pocket through no fault of their own. Does my right hon. Friend agree that, because our armed forces serve the whole UK, it is only right that they are treated equally and fairly wherever they are based?
I absolutely agree. Our armed forces perform a hugely important task in their service of the United Kingdom, and it is unacceptable that any member of them should be subject to discriminatory taxation. That is why the United Kingdom Government took the decision to make an annual payment to protect them from the Scottish Government’s decision to make Scotland the highest taxed part of the United Kingdom.
British armed forces have contributed enormously to the national response to the covid-19 outbreak, supporting the distribution of personal protective equipment, assisting with testing facilities and transporting patients, for which Cumbria and my constituency of Workington are grateful. Will my right hon. Friend join me in thanking the armed forces for all their work during the pandemic, and can he confirm that every part of our United Kingdom will continue to benefit from their hard work?
Our armed forces have been instrumental in the Government’s response to the pandemic, and I give my deep thanks to them for that work. In Scotland, that has included military planning personnel for the Scottish Government’s emergency co-ordination centre, Puma helicopters deployed to Kinloss to support the NHS in medical transport and airlift critically ill patients from the Scottish highlands, and the operating of pop-up mobile testing sites across Scotland.