The latest officialfigures show that the Scottish economy is growing, but at a slower pace than we would like and continuing to lag behind the UK. The UK Government are delivering for Scotland, including with our UK-wide industrial strategy, and of course with £2 billion of extra spending for Scotland, but the Scottish Government hold many of the levers that could drive growth, and they should be using those to make sure Scotland becomes a competitive place to do business. [Interruption.]
Order. I understand the sense of anticipation in the House, but we are discussing the strength of the Scottish economy, in which colleagues should take a polite and respectful interest.
The Secretary of State will be aware of the proposed closure of the 2 Sisters chicken plant in my constituency, with 450 jobs at risk. Will he join me in calling on the Scottish Government to set up a taskforce to look at viable alternatives? Will he agree to meet me to set out any help the UK Government might be able to offer?
I thank the hon. Gentleman for that question, and yes, absolutely; the Secretary of State and I were talking about this this morning. He is more than happy to meet the hon. Gentleman, and will raise the issue with the Scottish Government on his behalf.
The success of the economy of the south of Scotland is clearly linked to that of the economy of the north of England, particularly my constituency of Carlisle. Does the Minister agree that the borderlands initiative is an exciting opportunity for both sides of the border to boost economic growth?
I completely agree with my hon. Friend. We are of course bringing about growth deals all over the country, and we also need to look at those areas where we can have them across borders, so we completely welcome the project he talks about.
I call the hon. Gentleman’s namesake, Stuart C. McDonald.
Finally, I call Toby Perkins.