Scottish Businesses: UK Government

Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy – in the House of Commons on 11th January 2022.

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Photo of Steven Bonnar Steven Bonnar Shadow SNP Spokesperson (DEFRA Team Member)

If he will make an assessment of the confidence of Scottish businesses in the UK Government.

Photo of Lee Rowley Lee Rowley Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy), Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury

Business Ministers regularly engage Scottish businesses on policy making and to discuss business-related issues. In challenging times, the UK Government have provided significant taxpayer support to businesses across the UK, including in Scotland, and we will continue to work with them in the months ahead.

Photo of Steven Bonnar Steven Bonnar Shadow SNP Spokesperson (DEFRA Team Member)

Just last week, the Federation of Small Businesses flagged up the grim realities of Brexit, citing that 74% have experienced a sharp fall in international sales and exports because of import checks on trade with the EU, yet that reality is completely at odds with the outpourings of Lord Frost who used the new year honours list to purport an opaquely upbeat metric on the success of businesses across these isles. How are Scottish businesses supposed to feel any shred of confidence in this Government when such comments are completely at odds with what is happening on the ground? Even Baroness Davidson, the face of the Scottish Tories for the past decade, says that

“I despair when I see people—even those of my own party—dismissing business or disrespecting the herculean efforts that people have gone to”.—[Official Report, House of Lords, 9 December 2021; Vol. 816, c. 2021.]

Photo of Lee Rowley Lee Rowley Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy), Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury

I know that this is a surprise to the Scottish nationalists, but we have made the decision as a country to leave the European Union, and we are now in the process of ensuring that that is a success, not just for businesses in Scotland, but for businesses all across the United Kingdom as a whole, and we will continue to do that in the months ahead.

Photo of Andrew Bowie Andrew Bowie Conservative, West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine

Given that shops in Scotland had a greater reduction in footfall than any other part of the UK, given that the Scottish Licensed Trade Association has called the additional restrictions in Scotland a “knock-out blow”, given that the Aberdeen and Grampian chamber of commerce has called on the Scottish Government to pay up or open up, and given the abandonment of the Scottish oil and gas sector and its workforce, will my hon. Friend be able to give an assessment of Scottish businesses’ confidence in the Scottish Government?

Photo of Lee Rowley Lee Rowley Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy), Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his apposite and very important intervention this morning. He is a huge and doughty campaigner for Scottish interests, unlike individuals on the SNP Benches. It is comments such as those from the Aberdeenshire chamber of commerce that demonstrate how the confidence of Scottish businesses should be in the UK Government rather than the Scottish Government.