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Investment Zone in Scotland

Volume 730: debated on Monday 27 March 2023

4. What discussions his Department plans to hold with the Scottish Government and local authorities on proposals to create an investment zone in Scotland. (904310)

My ministerial colleagues and I are in constant contact with our counterparts in the Scottish Government. My officials have had positive discussions so far with the Scottish Government to co-create an approach towards investment zones in Scotland and we will continue to work together to develop an investment zone, or zones, that build on existing Scottish strengths and our shared national strategies.

Given that both the green ports went to the east coast of Scotland, which flies in the face of the well-known convention that west is best, can the Minister assure me that when Inverclyde Council puts together its bid for an investment zone, the Minister will balance that against the devastation caused in the area by the lack of investment over decades by consecutive Labour and Conservative Governments?

Greenock and Port Glasgow are two of the most attractive communities on the west coast of Scotland, but I do have to say that pitting east against west within Scotland is as bad as pitting Scotland against the rest of the United Kingdom. Scotland succeeds when all of us work together. The new Leader of the SNP is simultaneously a Glaswegian and a Dundonian, which is one of his many achievements, and I do believe that we should work together east and west, north and south, in the interests of the whole United Kingdom.

A total of 7,000 council jobs in Scotland are under threat from SNP cuts to local government. Council leaders across Scotland have written to the former First Minister warning of the devastating impact of those SNP cuts—huge job losses and vital local services across Scotland slashed. Can the Minister confirm what the impact of those job losses will be on people in Scotland, and can he say what the difference is between Tory and SNP cuts to councils, or are they just two sides of the same coin?

Talking of the same coin, we have the same coins in England and Scotland because we are one United Kingdom, and it is the SNP that wants a separate currency for Scotland as part of its plans for separatism. I have to say that there are excellent SNP councillors in Scotland, but they are being let down by the Scottish Government. The hon. Lady is absolutely right: the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities is up in arms at the way in which the Scottish Government have undermined local authorities, in contrast to here in England where we are working in partnership with local Government to devolve more power to the frontline. I refer the hon. Lady to the paeans of praise for our approach that we had from Labour leaders of local government just last week. In contrast to that, I am afraid local government in Scotland has been let down by the SNP. It was a key feature of Kate Forbes’s leadership race that she said more powers should be devolved within Scotland, and I hope the new First Minister will take note.