As the independence referendum date approaches, I was glad to have the chance to speak in the House of Commons recently on Scotland’s place in the UK.
The debate was an opportunity to make some key points – as part of the UK we have fantastic economic opportunities and protection, greater security and influence in the world and enjoy being part of the most successful partnership of nations in the world.
The debate over the currency in the past week has underlined key arguments.
In the Treasury advice, it was made clear that in the event of independence the UK Chancellor would not recommend a currency union to the government of the remaining parts of the UK. The Treasury paper states that while the UK is one of the most successful monetary, fiscal and political unions in history, the fiscal and financial risks of entering into a currency union with a separate Scotland would be significant.
It seems to me that a strong, stable, growing Scottish economy is best served by keeping the UK together.
We have a big choice coming up in September – whether to go it alone or remain part of the most successful family of nations the world has ever known.
Like many people across the Borders, I am proud to be Scottish and British.
More small businesses
The increased creation of new businesses in the Borders is helping to create a stronger and more competitive local economy.
Figures posted last week by the Federation of Small Businesses show that in 2013 more than 30,000 new businesses were created in Scotland – an increase of 19 per cent from 2012.
In our area, over 500 new enterprises were set up.
An ambitious and growing small-business sector is vital and in government we have taken steps to help small-to-medium enterprises, including establishing the Enterprise Finance Guarantee which has helped small and medium organisations access increased finance from banks.
Banking facilities remain a problem for many, however, so we are also setting up a £1.25billion business bank which will provide further support for SMEs (small to medium-sized enterprises) in getting funding to help them start up, grow and develop.
And from April this year, local businesses in the Borders will also enjoy a £2,000 tax cut from their National Insurance contribution bill due to our Employment Allowance scheme.
Across Scotland this will see total savings of around £100million. That is vital to help small businesses create more jobs.