Green Freeports

Scotland – in the House of Commons on 16th March 2022.

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Photo of Luke Evans Luke Evans Conservative, Bosworth

What recent discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on the potential impact on the Scottish economy of establishing two green freeports in Scotland.

Photo of Alister Jack Alister Jack The Secretary of State for Scotland

I have regular discussions with my Cabinet colleagues on all relevant UK Government policies that support economic growth in Scotland. The landmark agreement between Scotland’s two Governments to establish two new UK freeports will support the regeneration of communities in Scotland.

Photo of Luke Evans Luke Evans Conservative, Bosworth

Freeports are a real opportunity to bolster the UK’s economy. In the east midlands we have a freeport that is bringing 60,000 jobs and green investment. Does my right hon. Friend agree that that will be the case if two freeports go ahead in Scotland? Does that not demonstrate levelling up across the UK and our Union?

Photo of Alister Jack Alister Jack The Secretary of State for Scotland

Everyone who cares about Scotland’s prosperity will welcome the additional UK Government investment of up to £52 million, on top of the massive tax and customs benefits to the Scottish economy, drawing in more private sector investment. I would have thought that all parties in Scotland would have welcomed the opportunities and jobs that will flow from the new freeports in Scotland. However, sadly the Scottish Greens, the SNP Government’s coalition partners, oppose them, which shows how irresponsible it was for Mrs Sturgeon to invite a party so opposed to economic growth to join her in government.

Photo of Alison Thewliss Alison Thewliss Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Treasury)

Freeports around the world have long had an association with tax dodging and economic crime. In light of the Government’s responsibility to bring forward an economic crime Bill No. 2, will they review their freeports policy?

Photo of Alister Jack Alister Jack The Secretary of State for Scotland

That is an utterly ridiculous question. I received a letter from a Scottish Government Minister saying that freeports were a “tarnished brand” reminiscent of smuggling and tax evasion, just before they signed up to our policy.