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Growth Deals

Volume 708: debated on Wednesday 2 February 2022

The Moray full deal and the Falkirk heads of terms were signed in December. We now have nine deals in implementation and three in negotiation covering all of Scotland. The Government have committed over £1.5 billion for the deal programme in Scotland.

I am sure that the Minister is aware of the Scottish Government’s strategic transport review, and no doubt he will share my disappointment at the very lukewarm support for the extension of the Borders railway to Hawick, Newcastleton and on to Carlisle. Does he agree that this Government should show their full support for the project and tell us when the feasibility study for the Borders railway extension will be started?

I absolutely share my hon. Friend’s disappointment. When we signed the Borderlands growth deal, I was determined that the feasibility study for reopening the full Borders line should be in there. I am keen to see that work starting as soon as possible, and we will soon respond to the Union connectivity review, which also references that line. This is a classic example of where the Scottish Government should stop obsessing and spending their time, resources and money on yet more independence preparations and instead deliver on projects that really matter to the people of Scotland.

The Borderlands region will see £20 million less investment in its city region deal from the UK Government than from the Scottish Government. Why is that?

If the hon. Lady looks at the full package of investment that is going into the Borderlands deal, she will see that this Government are full square behind that area. It really is disappointing that it comes down to this petty point scoring when the whole point of the city region and growth deal is that all parts of government—local, Scottish and UK—work together on delivering the priorities that are determined by local people.

Talking about the Borderlands growth initiative and the growth deal, does the Minister agree that it is extremely important and beneficial to the whole region, and that Carlisle has become the regional capital of parts not just of England, but of Scotland? Does he also agree that south Scotland recognises the importance of Carlisle’s economic performance to the whole region? Does he further agree that that helps to support the Union?

I absolutely agree that the Borderlands growth deal is unique in that it straddles the border. The economic footprint of the region is incredibly important. Last year I held a meeting in Carlisle with local authority leaders and other stakeholders to discuss not just the growth deal, but how it can be the starting point for a proper economic partnership that straddles the border and delivers for my hon. Friend and his neighbouring constituencies.