The Government’s long-term economic plan has laid the foundations for a stronger economy. The Scottish economy has been growing for 11 quarters in a row. Scotland continues to benefit from being part of the UK, which was the fastest growing G7 economy in 2014 and is forecast to be the joint fastest in 2015.
My constituency has a number of manufacturing companies that do a great deal of business in Scotland, contributing to the growth of the local economy of Redditch as well as to the economy of Scotland. Does my right hon. Friend agree that that is just one element that makes the Union so successful?
I do agree with my hon. Friend. It is a fundamental part of the growth in Scotland’s economy that we are part of a single market within our United Kingdom. I recently had the pleasure of visiting Alexander Dennis, the bus manufacturer in Falkirk, and I am sure that they would agree that the rest of the United Kingdom was one of their most important markets.
Given that employment in Scotland is now 53,000 higher than it was before the crisis, and that output in Scotland is now 3% higher than at the pre-crisis point, does the Secretary of State concur with Scottish business leaders who oppose the Treasury’s savage cuts to the UK’s trade export agency in the autumn statement?
I very much welcome the figures the hon. Gentleman set out on the positive economic position in Scotland. What I do not subscribe to is the frequently voiced Scottish National party and Scottish Government position that anything good that happens in Scotland is in relation to the Scottish Government and anything bad is in relation to the UK Government. We have two Governments working together for the benefit of Scotland’s economy.
The North sea oil and gas industry is obviously vital to Scotland’s economy. Yesterday, a Scottish nationalist MSP claimed that there is no crisis in the industry, even though it has been estimated that 65,000 jobs have been lost since 2014. The SNP clearly inhabits a different world from everybody else. Will the Secretary of State tell us what his Government are doing to support the oil industry and to protect the thousands of jobs that depend on it?
I find it extraordinary that anyone who represents the north-east of Scotland could claim that there was no crisis in the oil and gas industry. This Government have demonstrated, yet again, in the Chancellor’s autumn statement that we are committed to that industry and the thousands of jobs that it supports right across the United Kingdom. There will be further evidence of our commitment to Aberdeen and the north-east in the weeks ahead.