On the hospitality sector, senior figures from the licensed trade, law and businesses in Edinburgh have accused the SNP Government of shameful inconsistency in protecting the economy of cities around Scotland. Roddy Dunlop QC, the dean of the Faculty of Advocates, has called out the inconsistency between Scotland’s cities and described it as “unbelievable”. He has demanded an explanation, which businesses deserve.
We know from FSB research that one fifth of Scotland’s small businesses and self-employed people have had no help over the course of the crisis, as many members in the chamber have mentioned. That is totally unacceptable, and the buck stops with the SNP Government. Maurice Golden highlighted the fact that the Government is sitting on £2.2 billion of Barnett consequentials that should, rightfully, be in the hands of businesses around Scotland, which are on their knees.
The Fraser of Allander institute revealed that the Government is hoarding more than £1 billion at Holyrood instead of using it to protect jobs and support businesses. More than anything, that precious funding should be used wisely on grants and loans to support job retention, which is crucial as we continue to weather the storm. I thank our lucky stars that Scotland is part of a union that has the might of the furlough scheme, and many members whose constituents have benefited from the scheme should be shouting from the rafters about that. [
.] No—I will not take an intervention.
I welcome the points that are raised in the Labour motion on protecting jobs and the need for greater support for businesses. The Conservatives will support the motion, given the urgency of the situation in which we find ourselves.
The UK Conservative Government has stepped up to the mark for businesses around Scotland, providing certainty to the tune of £9.5 billion and extending the schemes that have protected jobs across every part of our country. However, the Scottish finance secretary, Kate Forbes, complains ad infinitum that it is not enough. She stashes the cash and fails to redistribute it to businesses that desperately need it. Businesses do not have votes; people have votes. Could those squirreled-away pennies magically reappear in the spring to fund the list of ministerial announcements that were splashed at the SNP conference over the weekend? We will soon see.
SNP members spend their time talking about a four-day week and independence—Stuart McMillan banged on about independence in his speech—but it is the Conservatives who are working to protect the jobs of hard-working people and businesses around our United Kingdom.
I urge members to vote for our amendment, which recognises that we need a coronavirus business restrictions advisory council. I urge the SNP Government to take its fingers out of its ears and to listen and pay attention to businesses instead of cooking up an ideological and damaging referendum.