Investment Zones

– in the Scottish Parliament on 6th October 2022.

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Photo of Stephen Kerr Stephen Kerr Conservative

4. To ask the First Minister what discussions she has had with the United Kingdom Government about new investment zones for Scotland. (S6F-01419)

Photo of Nicola Sturgeon Nicola Sturgeon Scottish National Party

The Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities wrote to the Deputy First Minister proposing official discussions on how investment zones might work in Scotland. We have agreed to exploratory discussions, but we have also emphasised that any model would require partnership working between the Scottish and UK Governments; that it must reflect the Scottish economic policy and governance landscape; and that it must respect the devolution settlement, particularly as it relates to planning and environmental protection.

We still await further information on the UK Government’s proposals.

Photo of Stephen Kerr Stephen Kerr Conservative

I welcome the positivity of the First Minister’s response and I welcome the proposal to create investment zones in Scotland as one part of an ambitious plan to grow our economy—to incentivise businesses to invest, to build, and to create high-quality jobs.

I also welcome the reported constructive talks that have just been mentioned between Scottish ministers and the British Government.

However, for my constituents—the people of Central Scotland—and for people in businesses across Scotland, the success of the policy will depend on Scotland’s two Governments working co-operatively for the common good. That common good is about working together to attract new investment, new infrastructure and new high-skill and high-paid jobs.

I have read that as many as five or more investment zones could be created in Scotland. Will the First Minister set aside constitutional division, be ambitious for Scotland and work in partnership with the UK Government to bring the benefits of investment zones not only to the people of Central Scotland but to other parts of Scotland?

The First Minister:

It is good to hear a Tory take a break from crashing the economy to talk about supporting the economy. That is certainly a refreshing change, although I am not convinced that it will be a long-standing one.

I say to the Tories that anybody who is really serious about growing the economy needs to tackle the anti-growth coalition in the Conservative Party—the people who took Scotland out of the European Union and the single market and the ones who are exacerbating skills shortages through their obsession with immigration. Perhaps it would support the economy to start there.

On investment zones, I am not sure whether Stephen Kerr listened to what I said. We have agreed to exploratory discussions, but we have to be satisfied that such zones are in Scotland’s interests. Crucially, we do not yet have any details on the UK Government’s proposals. [


.] I know that the Scottish Tories just do anything that the UK Tories ask them to do, but this Government actually acts in the interests of the Scottish people—and that will be true on investment zones, as it is for everything else.