Stephen Kerr: Can the Minister confirm that up to £557 million will be made available for less established renewable electricity projects as part of the clean growth strategy, and that projects in Scotland will be able to compete for their share of that fund?
Stephen Kerr: I rise to make a few remarks in support of the Bill, which addresses fundamental issues on which the Government are doing the right things. The public finances are not in a state where we can take them for granted. Although much progress has been made on the deficit, there is still much to be done and there is certainly no room for complacency. I turn briefly to the subject that I mentioned...
Stephen Kerr: Twenty-eight per cent.
Stephen Kerr: My hon. Friend quite rightly talks about the progressive nature of the tax regime that has been very carefully fostered by this Conservative Government. Is he aware that, for the Scottish Budget this Thursday, the Liberal Democrats in Scotland are proposing to increase income tax on people who earn £18,000 a year? Can he tell me what he thinks about the progressive nature of such a...
Stephen Kerr: Is my hon. Friend aware that, in their report on employment practices in the modern economy, Matthew Taylor and his distinguished group of independent thinkers came out firmly against the Labour party’s policy of outlawing zero-hours contracts?
Stephen Kerr: My hon. Friend will be aware that the Opposition’s position is that it will cost what it will cost. Sounds horrific, doesn’t it?
Stephen Kerr: Does my hon. Friend agree that those are indeed the dividends of the Union?
Stephen Kerr: Does my hon. Friend agree that this was all designed in order to create a grievance—
Stephen Kerr: Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker. I had in fact finished my intervention, in which I asked my hon. Friend whether he felt that this was a designed grievance-manufacturing moment for the SNP.
Stephen Kerr: Will the hon. Lady share with the House the economic and revenue impact of the SNP Scottish Government’s land and buildings transaction tax?
Stephen Kerr: Will the hon. Lady give way?
Stephen Kerr: Will the hon. Lady give way?
Stephen Kerr: Does my hon. Friend think that the banks’ lack of willingness to lend to small and medium-sized businesses—there are several in my constituency that suffer from chronic lack of availability of capital from banks—is killing the nursery of burgeoning businesses that we need in this country?
Stephen Kerr: I would like to take the opportunity of this debate on the fishing industry, using the broad definition of that industry as the commercial activity of harvesting, processing and marketing aquatic produce for human consumption, to make a positive request of the Minister. Since 1995, the amount of caught fish in the world has been flatlining, but the amount of fish used for food has continued...
Stephen Kerr: I agree the hon. Gentleman. We certainly do not want that, because the value of salmon to the UK economy is close to the value of the entire landings of all species of fish by UK vessels in capture fisheries. We want that to increase. If a barrel of oil is worth $50, the equivalent value of a barrel of salmon is more than $1,200. That is why the Norwegian Government’s national policy is...
Stephen Kerr: Thank you, Mr Speaker. Last week, the Royal Bank of Scotland, which is 72%-owned by the taxpayer, announced the closure of 259 branches, including branches in my constituency in Bannockburn, Dunblane and Bridge of Allan, with the loss of 680 jobs. Will the Leader of the House provide a debate, in Government time, on the announcement of these closures and the future of retail banking in this...
Stephen Kerr: We have had a huge election within the past six months. The Conservative party went into that election with a manifesto commitment to honouring the outcome of the June 2016 referendum. I am not sure that I quite understand what the right hon. Gentleman does not understand about what the result of that election meant for the representation of the parties in this House. The majority of Members...
Stephen Kerr: Is not the hon. Lady putting the cart before the horse? The next phase of the negotiations will determine the future relationship between the EU and the UK. Is not she presuming an outcome that very few people would actually be in favour of?
Stephen Kerr: On that point, did the Scottish Parliament not vote that that 2012 Act should be repealed?
Stephen Kerr: I accept everything that my hon. Friend is saying, and join him in paying tribute to the hon. Member for North Down (Lady Hermon), but does he not agree that perhaps this is a time where some form of underpinning of the Good Friday agreement, by one means or another, might be helpful in building trust?