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Economic Trends

Volume 607: debated on Wednesday 23 March 2016

I regularly meet a wide range of business organisations to discuss economic issues in Scotland. As I alluded to, last week I shared a platform with the First Minister of Scotland at the annual forum of the Scottish Council for Development and Industry, where we discussed the important issue of productivity.

Given that businesses in Redditch have welcomed the devolution deal for Birmingham, what representations have business groups in Scotland made to my right hon. Friend about city deals there?

I have been particularly delighted at the welcome from business groups in Scotland for the announcement yesterday of the Inverness and Highland city deal. The Scottish Government, UK Government and Highland Council will deliver a £315 million package. I welcome in particular the early-day motion from the hon. Member for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey (Drew Hendry) and his colleagues. I pay tribute to him for his part in bringing the deal about.

The Secretary of State will be aware that about 400,000 workers in Scotland earn less than the living wage. The Government claim to be on the side of working people, so why have his Scottish Tory colleagues voted repeatedly alongside the SNP Government to thwart Scottish Labour proposals to extend the living wage?

I will resist the temptation to give the hon. Lady a lecture on the Scottish Labour party’s woes and the fact that it has not been a credible opposition to the SNP in Scotland. This Government are very, very clear on our proposals to increase the wages of the poorest in society by the introduction of the national living wage.

13. Local government clearly has a role to play in economic development. Does the Secretary of State agree that it is important that the Scottish Parliament also devolves power to local government? Might it look to England for a lead—on elected mayors, for example? (904213)

I very much take my hon. Friend’s comments. When I spoke with the First Minister of Scotland at the Scottish Council for Development and Industry forum last week, I was particularly encouraged by what she said about her support for city deals. I hope that the city deals we see emerging in Scotland will not just include financial packages but go on to include greater devolution within Scotland.

People in my constituency are extremely concerned about the perceived impact on the local economy and local jobs of the proposed closure of HMRC sites. What impact assessment is being made of these closures on the local economy and jobs?

Initial proposals have been set out for the future shape of HMRC. We hear repeatedly in the House about the wish to make HMRC more efficient and effective, but no steps will be taken in the hon. Lady’s constituency or elsewhere without full consultation with all those involved.