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Scottish Economy: Autumn Statement 2023

Volume 744: debated on Wednesday 24 January 2024

10. What assessment he has made of the impact of the autumn statement 2023 on the Scottish economy. (901057)

The autumn statement supported families and set out measures to grow the Scottish economy. With a stronger fiscal outlook, the Government have the space to cut taxes for hard-working people and businesses. That is highlighted by cuts to national insurance, benefiting 2.4 million people in Scotland, and the extension of full expensing, ensuring that the UK has one of the most competitive business tax regimes in the world.

Order. Will Members please not walk in front of other Members while they are asking questions?

The Minister is correct that the autumn statement from this UK Conservative Government provided tax cuts for millions of Scots, provided support for businesses and invested to grow the economy. That was in stark contrast to the SNP’s budget last month, which hiked taxes on hard-working Scots, failed to pass on support to the hospitality, retail and tourism sectors, and has been widely criticised across Scotland. Does the Minister agree, as I do, with Sir Tom Hunter, who said at the weekend that the business community in Scotland does not believe that the SNP has its back, and does he agree that that must change?

I agree with my hon. Friend, and Sir Tom is right too. Traders in Scotland have accused the SNP Government of undermining the rejuvenation of high streets across Scotland with their tax hike of 6.7% through business rates. The SNP must stop attacking employers and high-street traders who are already under tremendous financial strain because of the SNP’s mismanagement of Scotland’s economy.

Despite devolution rendering it pointless, the budget of the Scotland Office, along with that of the Attorney General, has jumped by over £3 million since 2018-19—it leapt up by £1.2 million just last year—while the Scottish Government’s budget allocation suffered a real-terms cut. Around 80 people currently work for the Scotland Office in Queen Elizabeth House alone, along with around 30 civil servants from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities. What on earth are they doing, and how does the Minister justify that to the Scottish taxpayer?

The team at the Scotland Office, both in Dover House and in Queen Elizabeth House in Edinburgh, are doing a tremendous job supporting Scotland across the United Kingdom and around the world. I would be very happy to welcome the hon. Lady to meet some of them with me, so that she can understand more clearly the important work that they do on our behalf across the UK.

Order. That completes Scottish questions. We now come to Prime Minister’s questions, but I just want to announce to the House that we are joined today by the President of the Chamber of Deputies of the Parliament of the Czech Republic—welcome.