To date, the UK Government have committed over £1.4 billion in Scotland through the city region and growth deal programme, which will be rolled out to all the other regions of Scotland very shortly.
I fully support our Government’s ambitious plans to make sure that every part of Scotland benefits from a growth deal. Does the Secretary of State agree that the £1.4 billion that the UK Government have already invested in city and growth deals is another fine example of how Scotland benefits from being in a strong United Kingdom?
I do agree, and that is just one example of how Scotland benefits from being in a strong United Kingdom. Another example is the Union dividend, which is worth more than £2,000 per annum to every man, woman and child in Scotland. I should add that the Prime Minister has announced a further £300 million to complete the growth deals throughout all the regions of Scotland, as well as Wales and Northern Ireland. In October, I was pleased to announce the quantum for Argyll and Bute, and I shall soon announce the quantum for both Falkirk and the islands.
I congratulate the Secretary of State on his being reappointed to the Cabinet.
Growth deals are of course important, but have the Government had any conversations with the Scottish Government on how the latter plan to plug their 8% fiscal deficit to meet the European Union’s 3% fiscal deficit rule so that they could enter the European Union in the event of there being an independent Scotland?
The hon Gentleman makes a good point. Were separation to happen, for an independent Scotland to join the European Union, under the Maastricht criteria its fiscal deficit would have to be 3% of GDP or less. That simply is not the case—Scotland’s fiscal deficit currently runs at more than 7%—so as things stand the economics are pure fantasy.
The borderlands growth initiative has proven to be very popular in the borderlands region, and the initiatives in it will be implemented in the next year or two. [Interruption.] Will the Secretary of State commit to a second growth deal for the borderlands?
My hon. Friend will not be surprised that I missed the end of his question because our Prime Minister was being cheered by colleagues. I think that my hon. Friend asked me to commit to the delivery of the borderlands growth deal. We have announced the quantum and we will have the heads of terms very soon.
Will the Secretary of State put to one side his fluffy rhetoric and answer this? When he considers the regional growth deal for Edinburgh and the Lothians, will he look into the mess that his Government have made in respect of the closure of Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs office in Livingston and the move to Edinburgh? Will he do as his predecessor did and come to Livingston and West Lothian, speak to my constituents, the workers, the unions and the elected representatives, and look into what can be done to fill the gap and sort out the mess made by his Government?
On the subject of the quantum for the islands’ deal, to which the Secretary of State has already referred, will he confirm that he will pursue with the Treasury a basis that is different from the per capita funding of other deals, because otherwise the deal for the islands will never be a meaningful one?
The right hon. Gentleman raises a very good point. Previously, these deals have been done on a per capita basis, but we recognise that the islands is a huge geographical area and that per capita would bring a very low outcome. We are in discussions with the Treasury about raising the quantum.