Skip to main content

Scotland: Trade and Investment

Volume 614: debated on Thursday 8 September 2016

The Department for International Trade is a Department for the whole UK. I visited Scotland last month, met the Cabinet Secretary for the Economy, Jobs and Fair Work, and offered my support to Scottish businesses. The Export Hub is currently touring Scotland, with trade experts providing advice to 252 first-time exporters, from just two Scottish tours. Its focus is on demonstrating real live business opportunities that businesses in any part of the UK can apply for.

I thank the Minister for that response. The attraction of worldwide entrepreneurs to work in Scotland is a particular form of investment that needs encouraging. Will he speak to his colleagues and encourage a complete review of tier 1 entrepreneur visas, as current barriers have led to rejection rates of about 70%, thereby harming investment and growth?

The visa regime is constantly being reviewed by my colleagues at the Home Office, and I take note of the hon. Gentleman’s comments. In terms of having an open economy, we must welcome the concept of free trade, and ensure that we have a low-tax, low-regulation economy and access to skilled labour. The United Kingdom as a whole has a number of advantages, not least that we speak English and that we are at the centre of the world trading time zones.

When he was the keynote speaker in Scotland of the Go movement, the Secretary of State will remember how much and how many people there welcomed the fact that we had the opportunity to exit the EU and increase trade opportunities. Will he lay to rest the lie that everyone in Scotland is against leaving the EU?

Two things are clear: the people of Scotland voted to remain part of the United Kingdom; and the people of the United Kingdom, with an equal vote in every part of this country, voted to leave the European Union. We are taking the decision as a United Kingdom, not as separate parts of it.