Draft Infrastructure Investment Plan 2021-22 to 2025-26

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 24th September 2020.

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Photo of Michael Matheson Michael Matheson Scottish National Party

It is pretty clear from Graham Simpson’s comments that he has a fundamental misunderstanding of what an infrastructure plan is there to take forward. Let me try to address some of the issues.

Graham Simpson states that the plan is “unambitious”. Actually, it has the most ambitious level of infrastructure investment in any part of the United Kingdom. I will explain why that is the case. Historically, the level of infrastructure investment in the UK has been below the average of that in other comparable nations. The national infrastructure mission that the plan will deliver will actually see a marked increase in infrastructure investment in Scotland, which will take it to a comparable international level. Based on the 2017 figures, that will result in almost £1.5 billion of additional investment going into the infrastructure plan. We are the only part of the UK that has given such a commitment. Historically, the UK Government has not met the required level of investment. I can assure Graham Simpson that it is not the case that the plan is not ambitious. It is completely the opposite: it is a very ambitious plan that will see greater levels of investment in infrastructure.

Graham Simpson also referred to things in the previous infrastructure plan that have not yet been delivered, such as the R100 programme. The R100 programme is in this infrastructure plan. The previous plan had the digital Scotland superfast broadband programme, which not only delivered but exceeded its target. He clearly has no knowledge of that.

In relation to specific programmes, the plan sets out a range of committed projects. As I said, there will be some £33 billion of investment over a five-year period, of which £24 billion is committed to and set out in the draft plan as it stands. Clearly, further projects and developments will be brought forward over the coming months and years.

I can assure Graham Simpson that this is an ambitious plan; it is much more ambitious than his colleagues at Westminster have been over many years.