I refer members to my entry in the register of members’ interests.
I thank the Labour Party for securing the debate, given the unprecedented circumstances of the pandemic in which we find ourselves. The motion mentions small business Saturday, which, in normal times, is a roaring success. Scottish Conservatives are hugely supportive of businesses in Scotland, and, in my constituency of Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire, I would normally be out supporting them on the high street.
The extent of the value of business is hard to measure. It is not only the economic output that matters, but the impact that the businesses have on society by combating loneliness, providing local knowledge, being advocates for the high street and for Scotland, and creating job opportunities to give people a step up on the ladder.
Right now, many businesses will be wondering how they will survive this winter. Due to levels restrictions, they are losing out on normal Christmas trade, particularly businesses in the service sector, which rely on people and the trade of physical goods and services and which support more than 500,000 jobs in Scotland.
It is true that there is a fine balance to be struck between managing public health and the economy, but the SNP’s excuses are not acceptable. I am ashamed that Kate Forbes is sitting on that money and, in an intervention, telling members that she will spend it. When will she spend the money?