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“The Plan for Growth”

Volume 527: debated on Wednesday 4 May 2011

3. What assessment he has made of the likely effect on the Scottish economy of the implementation of “The Plan for Growth”. (53556)

Returning the United Kingdom to sustainable economic growth is the Government’s overriding priority. We are doing everything to create the conditions that enable all businesses in Scotland to be successful and create more jobs. Our plan for growth is a plan for the whole of the UK.

What views and reactions is my hon. Friend aware of among our colleagues in the Scottish Parliament and the business community in relation to the Government’s proposals to support small and medium-sized businesses?

The Government’s proposals for reducing corporation tax and for making changes to national insurance have been widely welcomed by businesses across Scotland. Of course, as my hon. Friend will know, small businesses in Scotland have particularly benefited from small business relief, which was delivered by Conservative MSPs.

Inflation is at double the Government’s target, growth has been downgraded for the next two years, retail figures are down and consumer confidence is at rock bottom. Will the Minister for once stand up for Scotland and concede that while the cuts may be hurting, they are not working, and that it is time for the Government to have a plan B for growth?

This Government do have a plan for growth—unlike our predecessor. We have set out ambitious objectives to create the most competitive tax system in the G20, to make the UK the best place in Europe to do business, to encourage investment and exports, and to create the most flexible and educated work force in Britain.

I am sure the hon. Lady is good at figures. She will know that her party started the Scottish elections with a 10-point lead, and that today it has an 18-point deficit. That is good work with figures.

Can the Minister tell us what part of the plan for growth is behind the bright idea of his colleague the Chief Secretary to the Treasury to impose a massive increase in taxation on the oil and gas industry, jeopardising investment and up to 50,000 jobs?

The hon. Gentleman would have some credibility in asking that question had he not repeatedly raised in the Chamber the issue of the costs of petrol and fuel oil in his constituency. It is clear that the Chancellor and the Chief Secretary got the balance right in the Budget between the taxation of the oil industry and the taxation of the motorist. If the hon. Gentleman wants to tell his constituents that they should be paying 6p a litre more on their fuel, he is welcome to do so.