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The Scottish Government recognises that stock exchanges can be an alternative platform for some companies seeking to raise capital for growth investment, while offering investors the opportunity to contribute to the development of listed companies. The establishment of any stock exchange in Scotland is a commercial matter for those seeking to do so.
Scottish ministers, including Mr Hepburn, were enthusiastic in their support for the project heather scheme to create a new Scottish stock exchange, and Scottish Enterprise pledged £750,000 of public money. We now learn from press reports that project heather’s offices lie empty, staff have gone unpaid and debts totalling nearly £1 million have been run up
. What support will the Scottish Government give to those who face losing their jobs as a result of the project failing? Given that there is widespread—
It was not only me who was supportive of the establishment of a stock exchange; Dean Lockhart, who is in Mr Fraser’s party, also expressed his support, and Tavish Scott hosted a reception on the issue at the Parliament when he was a member. I do not criticise him for doing so. I am sure that Mr Fraser would expect us to embrace such opportunities when we have them.
It is important to place on record that none of the money that Scottish Enterprise offered has been drawn down. However, Mr Fraser is right that, if the project does not succeed and people end up out of work, it is incumbent on us to do all that we can to support those individuals. Mr Fraser and other members can be reassured that we will of course do that.
Businesses in Scotland must have confidence in any stock exchange, whether it be a Scottish or United Kingdom one, and due diligence is an important factor in the financial sector. Can the minister advise us what due diligence was done in the appointment of the new chair of the Scottish national investment bank?