Construction Industry

Scottish Executive Question Time – in the Scottish Parliament at 2:15 pm on 15th April 2010.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Wendy Alexander Wendy Alexander Labour 2:15 pm, 15th April 2010

To ask the Scottish Executive how it is responding to the slump in the construction industry. (S3O-10059)

Photo of John Swinney John Swinney Scottish National Party

We accelerated £347 million of capital expenditure to help Scottish construction companies through the recession. We would have done more this year had it not been for the chancellor's refusal to make provision for it. However, we are taking action on a number of other fronts, supporting apprenticeships and encouraging prompt payment. We want the construction industry to play its part in building the Scotland of the future. In addition, I made announcements yesterday of consequential funding from the United Kingdom budget, much of which is allocated to construction projects in Scotland.

Photo of Wendy Alexander Wendy Alexander Labour

It is now three years since the Government pledged to replace public-private partnerships with an alternative model of public procurement. When can we expect that alternative public procurement model to be unveiled?

Photo of John Swinney John Swinney Scottish National Party

As Wendy Alexander knows, the Government is taking forward its intervention in the construction industry and in capital markets through a range of different approaches. We have our traditional capital budget, which is being fully spent and utilised. We have taken forward a range of projects that we inherited from our predecessors and we have taken forward a range of other initiatives, which I explained to Mr McNulty a moment ago, through the work of the Scottish Futures Trust. That is the Government's approach. We are working to ensure that we do all we can to support the construction industry in these difficult economic times. The Government will sustain that approach in the period to come.

Photo of Andy Kerr Andy Kerr Labour

Many years ago—in the summer of 2007—I shared a television interview with the cabinet secretary in which he said that the Scottish Futures Trust would be available in October 2007. Does he recall that interview and that commitment? Will he answer the question that was asked previously: when will the model of funding that was promised in his manifesto, and subsequently, be available?

Photo of John Swinney John Swinney Scottish National Party

Mr Kerr will forgive me for not having an encyclopaedic recollection of all my television interviews. I will check the record to find out what words of wisdom he and I exchanged on that occasion. I am sure that it was one of the many pleasant encounters that we have had in the television studios of the country—I look forward to many more in the years to come.

The point that I made to Wendy Alexander was that the Government is pressing ahead with an ambitious capital expenditure programme. We are doing that in the context of a very difficult economic situation, but we are determined to ensure that we deliver an ambitious programme for the people of Scotland.

Photo of Jeremy Purvis Jeremy Purvis Liberal Democrat

The cabinet secretary will recall that, subsequent to 2007, the Government's own business case for the Scottish Futures Trust said that it would have two iterations, the second of which would be one in which it delivers finance itself. Will that still happen before 2011?

Photo of John Swinney John Swinney Scottish National Party

Those are elements of the operating plan that the Scottish Futures Trust is progressing. The SFT is involved in a range of ways in raising funds to invest—Shirley-Anne Somerville gave the particularly welcome example of the national housing trust earlier—and the Government will continue to take that approach.