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Regional Air Connectivity Fund

Volume 583: debated on Wednesday 2 July 2014

4. What assessment his Department has made of the effect of the regional air connectivity fund on Scotland. (904531)

The regional air connectivity fund was announced by the Chief Secretary to the Treasury last year and was doubled to £20 million in the Budget. It has already been successful in securing the air link between Dundee and London, a vital support for economic growth in the hon. Gentleman’s great city.

I thank the Minister for that answer. Some £2.8 million came from the UK Government to retain the air link between London and Dundee. Is that not just one more example, albeit a crucial one for Dundee, of why Scotland is stronger as part of the UK?

I absolutely agree. The air connectivity fund is a good example of the UK Government working to support economic development across all the nations and regions of our United Kingdom.

May I ask the Minister, on behalf of my hon. Friend the Member for Argyll and Bute (Mr Reid) and myself—this is not just a parliamentary pincer movement; it is close to the Secretary of State’s heart, and I am assured that he does have a heart, at least on Wednesdays—about Islay airport and Broadford airport on the Isle of Skye? They could both benefit if that excellent scheme were extended in conjunction with the Scottish Government: in the case of Islay, because it lacks a public service obligation and wants more commercialism; and in the case of Broadford, by re-establishing passenger links. Will he give that his full support?

I will most certainly take on board what the right hon. Gentleman says on his behalf and that of his colleagues. I am sure that everybody would welcome the opportunity to fly over the sea to Skye.

Does the Minister agree that those who are using that fund to fly from London to Dundee later this week in order to see the launch of the aircraft carrier will be able in two different ways to see the strength of the United Kingdom?

Absolutely. The hon. Gentleman will have heard the Secretary of State highlight the importance of the flotation of the aircraft carrier on Friday, which will be a very important moment not only for Scotland, but for our whole United Kingdom.