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City Deals: Scotland

Volume 605: debated on Monday 8 February 2016

6. What recent discussions he has had with Ministers of the Scottish Government on the Aberdeen city region deal. (903505)

On 28 January, the Government, along with the Scottish Government and the local leadership in Aberdeen were able to announce the Aberdeen city deal heads of terms. The deal includes an investment fund of up to £250 million. This shows the investment going in and the support being delivered for our economy in Aberdeen, just as it is across the country as a whole.

With the Treasury having received more than £300 billion from North sea oil revenue over the past 40 years, and given that the current low oil price is being aggravated by deliberate under-pricing, including by our “friends” in Saudi Arabia, does the Minister not think that the UK Government should at least match the £250 million given by the Scottish Government, instead of offering just £125 million to help the region through this difficult time?

Most people welcome the Aberdeen city deal, the significant investment that is going in and the joint working that it demonstrates between the British Government and the Scottish Government to make a real difference and to drive forward the economy in Aberdeen, which faces some of the challenges of which the hon. Lady speaks. It underlines the fact that we really are better together.

I would first like to offer the condolences of the Scottish National party to the family and friends of Harry Harpham. He was passionate about housing, and he would no doubt have wanted to be here today to question the Government.

The Aberdeen city and shire deal submitted a bid for £2.9 billion of investment, but that ambition was not matched by the Tory Government, who stumped up only £125 million for the deal. Can the Minister understand why the people of Aberdeen city and shire feel disappointed and let down by this Tory Government?

Agreeing a city deal, with £125 million added to the other money that is going in, which is wanted by local people and delivered in co-operation with local partners, should be welcomed. It will drive forward growth, and it is something that a number of other areas would be very keen to secure if they could do so.

This Government are not providing a 50:50 basis for this deal. In fact, the Scottish Government are contributing £379 million to it. Will the Minister and his Government respond to calls from the Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure, Investment and Cities and stump up the additional £200 million that Aberdeen so clearly needs?

When I saw that this was an area of questioning with which we would be dealing today, I had hoped the questions would focus on the great positivity that has surrounded the announcement, which is characteristic of the working together that has got us to a place where the heads of terms on this deal have been announced. This deal will make a real difference and it is only possible because of the contribution the British Government have made, alongside the Scottish Government, working with local partners. It is a welcome deal—it is a welcome deal in Aberdeen and it should be welcomed by Scottish National party Members rather more than it appears to be at the moment.