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Tay Cities Deal

Volume 685: debated on Wednesday 9 December 2020

Good progress has been made on the Tay cities regional deal. The Chancellor announced at the spending review on 25 November that the UK Government investment will now be compressed to 10 years. We are working with local partners to get the full deal signed on 17 December.

It has been almost a year since I was elected, and in all that time we have been assured that the Tay cities deal is just around the corner. I am delighted to hear that the deal is over the line. It will be a Christmas present for North East Fife and elsewhere, for which people have been waiting for some time.

I am grateful to the hon. Lady for those comments. I know of her hard work especially in helping the Eden Campus project in her constituency to be a leading part of the deal. I had hoped to be up visiting it a few weeks ago, but unfortunately covid restrictions precluded that. I very much look forward to visiting in the new year when circumstances allow.

I too thank the Minister for the reprofiling of the Tay cities deal from 15 years to 10 years. That will really help the projects. We now need to know when it will be signed. He will also know that we have an issue with the internationally renowned James Hutton Institute in my constituency. That is primarily a UK Government-financed project, but its place in the Tay cities deal has been put in jeopardy because of all the delays. To ensure that it can be started in year one, the Hutton needs the Government to draw down its funding early. Will the Government do that? If not, how do they intend to ensure that this crucial project can be guaranteed?

I have had many constructive dialogues with the hon. Gentleman on the Tay cities deal, and I am happy to confirm that we look good to go next Thursday to sign the deal. The delay was for a very good reason: as he alluded to, we were trying to get the UK Government side of the deal down from 15 years to 10 years. I am aware of the specific circumstances at the James Hutton Institute. I had a very constructive meeting with it on Friday last week, and I can assure the hon. Gentleman that we are exploring every option to ensure that it gets its funding but that all the other very worth- while projects in the deal do too.