Scotland’s Finance Minister, John Swinney, MSP, today calls on his Westminster counterpart, George Osborne, MP, to invest in energy infrastructure to help deliver renewable generation across Scotland and the UK.
In a political pre-emptive strike today on the eve of the Chancellor’s Autumn Spending Statement tomorrow (5 December) Swinney says that the UK Government’s current proposals are putting the creation of a strong, domestic renewables sector and supply chain at risk, and could undermine Scotland’s security of supply.
In a letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer – issued today by the Holyrood Minister – Swinney warns: “The UK Government retains the right to take money out of our budget mid-year and has done so in the past. It is not only deeply damaging to our plans for investment, and, to our public services such cuts completely fail to respect devolution and I urge you to assure me that there will be no such cuts this year
“There remains a need for additional direct capital investment to support recovery, and it is vital to ensure small businesses have access to finance.
“There is also a need for serious investment in energy infrastructure over the coming years to help deliver renewable generation across Scotland and the UK. We believe beyond doubt that the current Electric Market Reform proposals risk failing Scotland and the UK in a number of vital areas, and present a huge risk to UK security of supply as well as to investor confidence and our low carbon ambitions.
“As Scotland’s Future shows, an independent Scotland could build a more sustainable economy by delivering an effective industrial strategy, boosting productivity and exports and increasing innovation and participation in the workforce.
“The Scottish Government is doing all it can, within its limited powers. The latest Scottish GDP figures show our economy is growing 1.8% – faster than the UK – while our employment, unemployment and inactivity rates are the strongest of the four nations of the UK.
“However, successive UK budgets and Autumn Statements have undermined the Scottish Government’s ability to support economic revival, particularly through the significant cuts the Chancellor has made to capital investment over the spending review period and, in some cases, the in-year reductions he has made to the Scottish Government’s published spending plans.”
George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, is due to deliver the 2013 Autumn Statement to the House of Commons on Thursday 5 December at 11.15am.
Shadow Chancellor, Ed Balls, is expected to respond on behalf of the Opposition. Other MPs from all sides of the House will also have the opportunity to question the Chancellor on the contents of the statement.