“(1) The Chancellor of the Exchequer must review the effect of the use of the powers in this Act in Scotland and lay a report of that review before the House of Commons within six months of the date on which this Act receives Royal Assent.
(2) A review under this section must consider the effects of the changes on—
(a) business investment,
(e) financial stability, and
(f) financial liquidity.
(3) The review must also estimate the effects on the changes in the event of each of the following—
(a) the Scottish Government is given no new financial powers with respect to carrying over reserves between financial years,
(b) the Scottish Government is able to carry over greater reserves between financial years for use by the Scottish National Investment Bank.
(4) The review must under subsection 3(b) consider the effect of raising the reserve limit by—
(a) £100 million,
(b) £250 million,
(c) £500 million, and
(d) £1,000 million.” —
This new clause requires a review of the impact of providing Scottish Government powers to allow the SNIB to carry over reserves between financial years beyond its current £100m limit.
I beg to move, That the Clause be read a Second time.
New clause 29 would require a review of the impact of providing the Scottish Government with powers to allow the Scottish National Investment Bank to carry over reserves between financial years beyond its current £100 million limit. As Members may know, the Scottish National Investment Bank has been firmly established as a public limited company and has a proposed mission to focus the bank’s activities on addressing key challenges and creating inclusive long-term growth, including
“supporting Scotland’s transition to net zero, extending equality of opportunity through improving places, and harnessing innovation to enable Scotland to flourish.
It will provide patient capital—a form of long-term investment—for businesses and projects in Scotland, and catalyse further private sector investment.”
The bank’s first investment, announced the other week, was £12.5 million to the Glasgow-based laser and quantum technology company, M Squared, to support the company’s further growth in Scotland, which speaks to the bank’s proposed core missions.
The Scottish National Investment Bank will help to tackle some of the biggest challenges we face in the years to come, delivering economic, social and environmental returns, but currently there is a slight barrier, in that the Scottish Government can only roll over £100 million of their annual reserves. We are asking for the UK to look at increasing that to allow the Scottish National Investment Bank to get on with the job that it is set up to do.
As the Committee can see, the new clause asks the Government to introduce an impact assessment—because that is what we can do in this Committee; we can ask for reports and impact assessments—looking at increasing the Scottish Government’s reserves by £100 million, £250 million, £500 million or £1 billion for business investment, employment, productivity, inflation, financial stability and financial liquidity. We need the Government to come on board with that and provide some help to us. It is a huge and important project, so much so that the UK Government seem to be copying it by having an investment bank.
We would like to have an infrastructure bank for Scotland that can meet Scotland’s needs and priorities. It is desperately important that we do that. The bank will learn from banks such as KfW in Germany, which was set up after the war by the UK, and then we learned nothing from it ourselves. We want to be able to get on and do this and invest in Scotland’s future, but unfortunately we need the Government’s co-operation at this point to do that.
The UK Government are committed to supporting investment across the whole of the United Kingdom. Indeed, at the spending review, we confirmed our intention to establish a new infrastructure bank in the UK that will help to support infrastructure projects across the whole of the UK, including in Scotland. I was therefore pleased to see the Scottish Government launch their Scottish National Investment Bank on
The new clause seeks to establish a review process for considering whether the Scottish Government’s reserve flexibility should be increased and expanded for use by the Scottish National Investment Bank. We have already agreed significant financial flexibilities with the Scottish Government as part of the Scotland Act 2016 and their fiscal framework, which provide unprecedented policy levers to shape Scotland’s economy, including a £700 million Scottish reserve. The Scottish Government are able to manage the Scottish National Investment Bank through those existing arrangements if they choose to prioritise that.
Furthermore, we have agreed to undertake a review of the Scottish Government’s fiscal framework. That will include an independent report, jointly commissioned with the Scottish Government, next year in 2021, followed by a renegotiation of the fiscal framework in 2022. I therefore think in light of that information that the hon. Member might consider withdrawing the new clause.
I am not going to withdraw it. The Minister has an absolute cheek, and he knows it. We were working on the bank for quite some time, and it has opened its doors and is already lending money while the UK Government are still only talking about their bank. Help us do the job and help us make sure that we can make this work for Scotland’s future, because, frankly, we do not trust the UK Government to do that for us, and we have good grounds for that.
When the UK Government invested in things in Scotland before, we ended up with things such as the Skye bridge, for which we were paying well over the odds. When Scotland is able to invest in things, we build bridges such as the Forth replacement crossing—sorry, the Queensferry crossing—which is an excellent bridge for us all to use in the future. I will press the new clause to a vote.