I said on Monday in the House of Commons that I cautiously welcome the consultation on the UK Government’s Industrial Strategy and after questioning the Secretary of State for Business, Energy, and Industry, and that remains my reaction to this news.
Whilst seeking the views of businesses and members of the public is good, I am reluctant to believe Scotland will be given the weight we deserve in this process to influence how the Tories will steer their ship.
I also question the timing of a 12 week consultation at a time when the UK Government is already dodging answering questions on future investments under the guise of Brexit negotiations.
The Tory Government opening a consultation on an industrial strategy without offering the context in which that strategy will be implemented simply offers ambiguity at a time of uncertainty.
There has been some indication from the UK Government that not only are they seeking views in this consultation, but are also expecting a fair amount of detail from those contributing too.
In terms of funding for research and development the Tories have given no indication as to how they will replace funding in Scotland from the European Union has been and continues to be put at risk of total loss due to the threat of our country being dragged out of the EU despite voting to remain.
Further still the UK Government is now silent as to whether they will support the Scottish Government’s proposal to retain our membership of the single market.
With respect to this I would urge all businesses and individuals to pay close attention to the fact that the Secretary of State for BEIS stated consultation is being sought not only on research and development funding, but also specifically how that money should be spent and where its allocation should be.
The oil and gas industry has a compelling case to make for its fair share of any additional funding and I hope that they will join me and colleagues in pressing the government for that support.
If the UK Government are seeking consultation on what areas of research and development need funding and specifically where that money should go, then now is the time of all individuals and businesses to make it clear that the Tories cannot continue to turn their back on renewables or carbon capture and storage.
Last week the National Audit Office revealed the UK Government spent £100million on the competition for CCS and then scrapped it entirely. We cannot allow the Tory Government to stop and start energy projects and abandon projects which will contribute to a greener, more energy efficient industrial future.
This consultation may be yet another disappointment waiting to happen from the UK Government, but we cannot allow apathy and pessimism to prevent contribution to it. With that in mind, I would urge individuals and businesses to contribute to this consultation with detailed and specific demands for what needs to be done and when.