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Economic Situation

Volume 506: debated on Wednesday 24 February 2010

6. What recent discussions he has had with representatives of business and trade unions on the economic situation in Scotland. (317406)

I hold regular discussions with trade unions and business representatives from across Scotland. As I said earlier, last month I co-hosted a national jobs summit in Easterhouse with the Scottish Government, the Scottish Trades Union Congress and CBI Scotland.

Last week, when I addressed a meeting at the Rotary Club of Dalkeith, it became obvious to me that the co-operation that has been delivered locally between employers and trade unions is very important if we are to get through the current crisis. May I invite my right hon. Friend to come to Midlothian, meet employers and trade unions, and help them to agree on measures that will allow them to get through the crisis jointly?

I am disappointed to learn that I was not invited to the Dalkeith rotary club event, but I am delighted that it obtained the better speaker in my hon. Friend. Of course I shall be happy to visit his constituency. He has put his finger on something very important: as I have said before, the global importance of the current recession requires a team approach to be taken throughout Scotland by the Labour Government, the SNP Edinburgh Government, business and trade union leaders, so that we can get Scotland through the recession more quickly and more strongly. [Interruption.]

Gaeltec Ltd in Dunvegan on the Isle of Skye faces liquidation at the hands of Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs because PAYE and national insurance contributions have not been paid as a result of financial constraints. Will the Secretary of State reassure the business community that liquidating a company over non-payment of £28,000—leading to redundancy payments that would amount to about £120,000, as well as subsequent unemployment and related benefits—would make no sense whatsoever to the public purse, and that he will lobby HMRC and try to make it see sense?

I am always happy to listen to the right hon. Gentleman when he argues a constituency case so passionately. I will not become involved in the specific detail of the business relationship between HMRC and that one company, but I think he will be reassured to learn that the business payment scheme set up by HMRC has allowed 17,000 Scottish companies to delay their payment of taxes totalling £300 million. However, I will happily look into the specific matter that he has raised.