Elizabeth Truss: We have had a fantastic debate, in which we have heard from some of our top talents from right across the House. I thank the hon. Member for Aberdeen North (Kirsty Blackman) for opening the debate and the hon. Member for Bootle (Peter Dowd) for his contributions. Sadly, however, we again heard the tales of doom and gloom, and projections of difficulty, whereas when we look at what is...
Elizabeth Truss: I can indeed confirm that the money allocated by the UK Government to the Stirling and Clackmannanshire deal is £45.1 million. I thank my hon. Friend for his hard work on that deal. I will be looking at the issues across Government to make sure that we deliver these deals in the best possible way to deliver real value for local communities. That is what MPs have been campaigning for and...
Elizabeth Truss: I have already had some discussions about the Tay cities deal with the Secretary of State for Scotland, and we will look at the details. We constantly have to make sure that every piece of Government spending has the best possible value for money. It was significant that in the speeches from SNP Members we heard nothing about value for money or the fact that taxpayers pay for spending.
Elizabeth Truss: My hon. Friend the Member for Stirling is an extremely effective Member of Parliament from whom Members from all parties could learn.
Elizabeth Truss: It was very good to meet my hon. Friend to discuss the Clackmannanshire and Stirling city region deal and I look forward to visiting him and his colleagues soon in Scotland to see how things are working on the ground. I can confirm that we will be working further with the Scottish Government on those issues. I commend the work that is being done on the oil and gas industry by my colleagues in...
Elizabeth Truss: Scotland exports almost £30 billion of goods and services, including its iconic whisky, and we want to make sure we have as frictionless trade as possible with the EU as well as the ability to strike independent trade deals with the rest of the world.
Elizabeth Truss: Of course we want trade with the EU to be as frictionless as possible, but I point out to the hon. Gentleman that the UK market is worth £46 billion to the Scottish economy, and his party wants to leave that market.
Elizabeth Truss: My hon. Friend is right. Outside the UK, the No. 1 destination for Scottish exports is the US, which accounts for 16% of exports, and of course part of the opportunity of leaving the EU is the ability to negotiate new trade deals, such as with the US.
Elizabeth Truss: As I have said, we want to secure as frictionless trade as possible with the EU as well as those opportunities with the rest of the world. It would be helpful if the Labour party, rather than trying to reverse the result of the referendum, was instead more positive about the opportunities in the future.
Elizabeth Truss: Those are fantastic figures for Scotland. We have seen good figures across the UK and the lowest unemployment for 40 years. The Labour party wants to overthrow capitalism; we want great businesses that will do well for our economy.
Elizabeth Truss: I am afraid to tell the House that the people of Scotland are having to pay more income tax thanks to the SNP Government. Everyone earning more than £26,000 is paying more tax under the SNP.
Elizabeth Truss: I know that my hon. Friend has done a lot of work at the port of Dover making sure it is ready for all eventualities. We want to have the best possible trade with both the EU and the rest of the world. That is the opportunity we have got.
Elizabeth Truss: The financial services industry is a very important industry for the whole UK and we want it to do as well as possible, which is why we are working on getting the best possible deal. It is in the interests of EU countries that rely heavily on UK financial services to get a deal that suits both sides.
Elizabeth Truss: I am amazed that the hon. Gentleman did not mention the fact that the City has yet again been rated the top financial centre in the world. We hear nothing but doom and gloom from the Labour party about the future of our economy. If the hon. Gentleman thinks that the solution to our problems is calling business the enemy and overthrowing capitalism, he is seriously mistaken.
Elizabeth Truss: It is right that money that is spent locally is raised locally. In 2010, councils were 80% dependent on central Government grants; by 2020, the vast majority of money spent locally will be raised by local councils.
Elizabeth Truss: As I said, we have moved from a situation in which local councils were majority funded by central Government to one where local councils are accountable for the money they spend and raise locally. We have given councils the extra ability to raise funds. I note that many councils have reinvented themselves, are doing things differently and are saving money, and public satisfaction with local...
Elizabeth Truss: We are currently considering those responses carefully, and we will publish them shortly.
Elizabeth Truss: We are building. We saw a record number of new businesses started last year. We have record levels of employment across our economy. We have brilliant Conservative Mayors, like Andy Street and Ben Houchen, who are attracting new businesses to their areas and redesigning their port infrastructure, whereas Labour councils across the country are doing things like closing down Airbnb, trying to...
Elizabeth Truss: Given that the hon. Gentleman’s stated policy is to have a run on the banks, I suggest that our ideas for bringing in business investment are doing a lot better for Britain.
Elizabeth Truss: We have protected schools’ budgets in real terms since 2010, and through our reforms to schools and the curriculum children’s results have improved, particularly in reading.