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2014 Commonwealth Games

Volume 570: debated on Wednesday 6 November 2013

1. What assessment he has made of the potential effects of the legacy of the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth games on the UK tourism industry. (900878)

The Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth games provide a great opportunity to showcase Glasgow to the world. Following my recent meeting with Gordon Matheson of Glasgow city council, I am left in no doubt that the games will provide a long-lasting legacy of which the people of Glasgow can be proud. The United Kingdom Government are taking every step to promote the business opportunities that the games present, and I should be happy to receive suggestions in that regard from any Member in any part of the House.

I welcome the Secretary of State to his first session of Scottish questions. I also send best wishes to his predecessor, who was a thoroughly decent man. [Hon. Members: “Hear, hear.”]

Next year’s Commonwealth games will attract thousands of visitors to Scotland. I believe that the best legacy that we can give them is to ask them to come back and visit us again, but that may be extremely difficult for some, given the high rate of air passenger duty. Will the Secretary of State ask his colleagues in the Treasury to review the position, and to carry out an impact assessment of the effects of APD on tourism in Scotland and in the United Kingdom as a whole?

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his welcome to what is, in fact, my first session of Scottish questions as Secretary of State. I have been present for Scottish questions once or twice before.

Let me also associate myself with the hon. Gentleman’s tribute to my right hon. Friend the Member for Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk (Michael Moore), who did an excellent job. The additional powers that were given to the Scottish Parliament through the Scotland Act 2012 and the negotiation of the Edinburgh agreement are a lasting legacy from him.

I am aware that Glasgow airport is an important asset for the hon. Gentleman’s constituency, and I commend him for the vigorous way in which he prosecutes its interests. I always welcome any representations from Members in any part of the House, but air passenger duty is a matter for the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and the hon. Gentleman should get his representations in early ahead of the autumn statement. Good luck to him.

I, too, welcome my right hon. Friend to his new position.

An important legacy from London 2012 was better working between the transport agencies and providers. May I urge my right hon. Friend to work with Transport Scotland and other agencies to ensure that a similar legacy can be secured for Glasgow?

I hope very much that that will happen. A significant transport legacy has already been established by the organisers of the games, and I see no reason why the lessons of the Olympic games, which are substantial and readily available, should not be learnt by those in Glasgow.

I join others in welcoming the Secretary of State to his new position, and in paying tribute to his predecessor.

The legacy of the Commonwealth games is vital to the people of Glasgow and their prospects, particularly in relation to jobs, but today that has been overshadowed by reports concerning the future of shipbuilding on the Clyde. The work force on the Clyde are renowned for their skills and expertise, but they now face uncertainty about their future. Will the Secretary of State assure the House that he will work with trade unions and with the company to minimise any potential job losses, mitigate the effects on communities, and secure the future of shipbuilding on the Clyde?

I thank the hon. Lady for her welcome. I can give her every assurance that, as in the recent crisis surrounding the Grangemouth plant, I will work with any party in any part of the country where Scotland’s vital interests are involved. I extend that invitation to the hon. Lady, to the Scottish National party, and to the Scottish Government. The issue is clearly important. Today is a day that we always knew was coming, but I believe that we will meet the challenges much more effectively by working together.

May I urge my right hon. Friend to take the opportunity, as soon as he can, to visit the sporting facilities that have been created in the east end of Glasgow, particularly the indoor athletics track and the velodrome which is named after Sir Chris Hoy? Does he recognise that they meet the highest possible international standards, and constitute a substantial sporting legacy for the city of Glasgow and, indeed, the whole of Scotland?

For, very possibly, the first time in the 30 years for which I have known my right hon. and learned Friend, I am one step ahead of him. I have, in fact, visited those facilities, and I was immensely impressed, principally by the fact that they are already accessible to some 75,000 people in the area. They will indeed constitute a lasting legacy. Glasgow city council has the opportunity to provide a business legacy, and I am delighted to announce that it has made the Glasgow city chambers available to UK Trade & Investment and other organisations for the duration of the games so that they can promote business opportunities.

I welcome the Secretary of State to his position. Today is a very sad day for many families in Glasgow, and I am sure the thoughts of everybody on both sides of the House are with them. How will the legacy to Glasgow of the Commonwealth games be affected by large-scale skilled industrial job losses in the city?

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his welcome. As I have already said, we are working with UKTI to bring more business opportunities to Glasgow. As for the announcements, we will hear from the Secretary of State for Defence later today what the full extent of these developments is going to be, but they will be best tackled if we all work together. We have known for a long time that this day was coming.

And the legacy to Glasgow will be serious if nothing is done to help those who need it, so what can the Secretary of State and his Government do to help people in these circumstances?

I will be doing what I have been doing since the day and hour I took over this job. I will work with the hon. Gentleman’s colleagues in the Scottish Government, if they are prepared to work with me. I will work with the councillors and officers at Glasgow city council. I will work with UKTI and, most of all, I will work with BAE Systems, which, in very difficult circumstances, has handled itself in a way that should be commended.