15 September 2015

Future prosperity for the North Sea

Stewart Stevenson (Banffshire and Buchan Coast) (SNP): In his statement, the minister talked about maximising economic recovery. Can he tell us what expectations he has that we will see a UK policy on that subject any time soon? How is he going to help?

The Minister for Business, Energy and Tourism (Fergus Ewing): I hesitate to speak for the UK Government—I am not sure that I would be its anointed spokesperson—but it is abundantly clear to anyone who has studied Sir Ian Wood’s final report, which I have with me and parts of which I have reread in the past couple of days, that there is one fundamental truth that the UK Government has not acknowledged. That is that, if we are to achieve the objective of maximising economic recovery, the UK Government must step up to its role of using fiscal policy as a lever—nay, a precision tool—to get the maximum from the North Sea.

The UK Government must therefore make a commitment in the Energy Bill or the Infrastructure Bill, which are currently going through the UK Parliament, to do that. It has not done so yet, but I hope that, after this statement, it will begin to think very seriously. If it does not collaborate, why should it expect industry to collaborate? That is what it is asking.

We will pursue that argument vigorously with our MPs in Westminster and in Scotland so that we achieve the best for the industry and thereby secure tens of thousands of jobs in this country.

10 September 2015

(S4O-04571) Employment (Fraserburgh)

4. Stewart Stevenson (Banffshire and Buchan Coast) (SNP): To ask the Scottish Government what it is doing to protect employment in the Fraserburgh area. (S4O-04571)

The Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Constitution and Economy (John Swinney): Our continued investment in infrastructure, regeneration and business support is designed to support the area’s economy and create and safeguard jobs. For example, an investment of £13.7 million of European fisheries fund assistance in Fraserburgh supported harbour deepening and quay improvements. This has ensured the long-term operation of the harbour and safeguarded the jobs of more than 700 fishermen.

Stewart Stevenson is aware of the situation with Young’s, and the Minister for Business, Energy and Tourism has been working closely with the company. I firmly believe that we have offered it a very strong case, such that maximum employment can be retained in Fraserburgh.

Stewart Stevenson: I thank the Government on behalf of the harbour board for the support that it has given, which is certainly a useful contribution.

Specifically on the situation at Young’s, will the cabinet secretary give more detail on the launch of the Fraserburgh task force and how it might contribute to protecting and enhancing employment in the area?

John Swinney: Stewart Stevenson will be aware of the issues that we face in relation to the long-term future of Young’s at Fraserburgh. The Government has engaged very strongly with the company and Fergus Ewing has drawn together all interested parties to ensure that we have a co-ordinated approach to addressing this particular difficulty.

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