Salmond demands Westminster action

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First Minister Alex Salmond, along with the other devolved administrations, has called for immediate action from Westminster to allow infrastructure projects worth £400 million to stimulate the Scottish economy to go ahead now.

Representatives of the devolved administrations met with the UK Government at the Joint Ministerial Committee (JMC) in London on today to discuss the economy, public finances and aviation strategy.

As well as capital investment in the economy the First Minister also raised the issue of air links to Scotland and devolving air passenger duty.

Speaking after the meeting, the First Minister said:

“As the Scottish Budget will outline tomorrow, we are aggressively targeting actions, within the constraints imposed on us, to stimulate the Scottish economy through capital investment to inject the biggest possible stimulus into the economy to boost jobs.

“In June this Government announced our plans for a £105 million package of economic stimulus which will maximise opportunities to create jobs and growth. We recognise that action around investment is required now – not in three years time. That is why I have again urged the Chancellor to perform another budget u-turn by announcing an extra £5 billion in capital investment, which would allow us to provide an additional stimulus of more than £400 million to support employment in Scotland now.

“This highlights the limitations of the current constitutional arrangements.  Our inability to borrow means this work is delayed while we await the green light from Westminster, and this is completely unacceptable.

“If these projects go ahead now, they would provide a vital support to employment with every additional £100 million of capital spending estimated to support around 1,400 jobs across the Scottish economy.

“The Prime Minister asked that we provide a list of projects which were shovel-ready back in March, and despite providing the list, and repeated requests, no funding has yet been provided for these. 

“The lack of action is completely unacceptable.  That is why the devolved administrations today tabled a joint declaration at the Joint Ministerial Committee calling the UK Government to act now to stimulate the economy.”

The First Minister also raised the issued of the crisis of connectivity for Scotland’s airports and called for the immediate devolution of Air Passenger Duty to the Scottish Parliament.

Mr Salmond added:

“We have a crisis of connectivity for Scotland’s airports. Even if there was a sudden consensus on the third runway at Heathrow it would still take 10 years to benefit from that capacity, and we are seeing right now a dramatic drop in the number of flights connecting Scotland and Heathrow. 

“Scotland needs the levers and incentives to bring about change.  That is why I pressed the Prime Minister for the immediate devolution of air passenger duty.

“We also pressed the Prime Minister to recognise that connectivity is an issue for all our governments, and for that to be recognised in the work of the commission to be led by Howard Davis.”