Danny Alexander – 2013 Speech to Lloyds Business Summit

dalexander

Below is the text of the speech made by Danny Alexander, the then Chief Secretary to the Treasury, to the Lloyds Business Summit on 11 November 2013.

Recovery

Good morning.

I’m very glad to be with you today…

At a time when our economy does appear to be on the mend.

Not fully recovered…

But showing encouraging signs.

Last month, the IMF revised UK growth up by more than any other G7 economy.

Two weeks ago the latest GDP figures bought further welcome news…

But no one should think that because we’re starting to see the signs of recovery…

That we’ll forget the difficulties we’ve left behind, or abandon the path that has brought us to this point. There is a long way to go to get back to the sort of growth we need.

Over the last three and half years…

The government has worked hard …

Not just to take tough decisions…

But to take the right decisions.

And one of our main priorities, has had to be to create the right conditions for more sustainable and balanced growth.

The 2008 catastrophe and its fall out have been so profound, we know that we have to protect against another catastrophe on this scale.

There’s a realisation that we have to re-embed two ancient disciplines back into our our public life.

First, we have to live within our means.

Second, that further prosperity depends on our ability to build more sustainable, balanced economic growth.

Of course, while we can create those conditions…

It’s the private sector that makes growth happen…

And the recovery we’re starting to see is a result of the determination…

And the innovation…

And the sheer hard work of UK based businesses.

Thank you.

Right kind of recovery

For me, the most encouraging feature of the recovery we’re witnessing…

Is that it has the hallmarks of being a balanced recovery.

For too long we seemed to only look towards one city – and one industry – for economic growth.

But growth is happening now across sectors.

For the first time in 15 years, all four output sectors…

Industrial production, services, construction and agriculture…

Have grown in successive quarters.

And growth is happening across the country.

We need to work hard to continue this trend.

So, that should one sector – or one region – experience a sudden decline or shock…

As happened in the financial crisis…

Our economy will be in a much stronger position to absorb it.

Pace of recovery

Inevitably though, some commentators have criticised the pace of the recovery.

But they miss the point – previous recessions have simply not been as deep as the one from which we are recovering.

The severity of the recession also explains why we haven’t seen earnings growth pick up as quickly.

But let’s look at job creation.

Our critics said that we would never compensate for the shedding of jobs in the public sector.

They were wrong.

You, in the private sector, have created jobs on a significant scale – a remarkable 1.4 million since the election.

Not only have you compensated for the loss of public sector jobs – you’ve achieved a spectacular job creation ratio of 3:1.

There is another reality to face – a recovery without fairness would be hardly a recovery at all.

Not having a job in these times would be the harshest unfairness of all.

Unemployment is still too high, and there’s clearly a lot more to do to continue the downward trend in unemployment, particularly for youth unemployment.

Our work on creating over a million modern apprentices is key.

But I am proud that we are navigating our way back to economic normality without soaring unemployment levels and the social damage that such a situation would wreak.

Of course, by keeping unemployment much lower than in previous recessions

We have seen the UK’s output per worker – which is a key measure of our country’s productivity – fall to a fairly low level too.

I’m of the belief that low productivity is an acceptable outcome – for a temporary period – if it is in part, the result of high employment.

But in the long run, an increase in our productivity has to drive growth.

Strong economic growth with rising productivity is the only sustainable way to permanently increase the living standards of our population.

Short-term populist ideas that damage long-term investment make it harder to increase living standards.

Instead, we have been building a more stable, competitive environment in which businesses can invest, grow, and create jobs, and share the fruits of that growth fairly.

And so for our economy to become more productive, we need your help.

We need you to invest.

Business investment

To get the recovery fully entrenched,

To get it into top gear,

There’s one thing needed now above all else.

Investment.

As a government, we’re playing our part.

As Chief Secretary to the Treasury, investment is my brief.

We’re building roads, power stations, flood defences, data networks.

Only a few months ago, I announced the largest and most comprehensive plan of infrastructure investment for decades – a £100 billion plan to upgrade our roads, railways, broadband by the end of the decade.

Your country needs you to invest too.

I know that the deep uncertainty of the last few years has held back business investment.

In fact, we know that companies are continuing to strengthen their balance sheets out of the credit crisis…

Total cash deposits held by non-financial private companies has risen by £104 billion since pre crisis levels…

And now sit at over £500 billion.

But if businesses start to invest that money, it would make a huge difference to our economy.

Just to illustrate that, had business investment risen by an additional 10% last year…

Then the level of GDP would be £12bn higher.

That’s almost a whole percentage point on GDP growth.

I know that uncertainty is the enemy of investment.

I know that companies have felt the need to consolidate balance sheets.

The fog of uncertainty is clearing.

The economic outlook and forecasts are improving.

In government, we doing all we can to increase certainty.

We have a strong clear fiscal strategy.

We have a Bank of England with a clear policy expressed through ‘forward guidance’ and we have introduced a set of measures to make that investment easier.

We are:

– providing generous NIC allowances

– reducing corporation tax

– reforming rules on Controlled Foreign Companies

To rebuild Britain, we need you to join this recovery by investing now.

There has never been a better time to invest in Britain.

With your help, we can entrench a sustainable recovery and increase the living standards of our people.

Conclusions

What we won’t do is put short term political gain…

Ahead of the long term future of this country.

And we know that – if we want to continue to move our economy from rescue into recovery…

Then increasing productivity is absolutely essential.

To raise living standards…

To raise long term growth potential…

And the people in this room today have the power to help this country to move into the next phase of our economic recovery.

We will stick to our plan.

Making Britain a country that pays it way again.

Making Britain a great place to do business again.

Investing in our nation’s infrastructure and the skills of our young people.

Working together, that is the only way we will build a stronger economy in a fairer society in which everyone can get on in life.

Danny Alexander – 2012 Speech to the Global Business Summit

dannyalexander

Below is the text of the speech made by Danny Alexander, the then Chief Secretary to the Treasury, to the Global Business Summit held on 8 August 2012.

Good morning, it gives me great pleasure to open this breakfast meeting on UK infrastructure.

To kick off this meeting, I want to say a few general words on how government policy supports investment in infrastructure, and how that investment supports a strong and balanced economic recovery.

I don’t need to remind you of the difficult economic times we face and I know that times are particularly tough for some of the businesses represented here.

The UK is still recovering from the biggest debt and financial crisis of our lifetimes – a recovery that is made no easier by the ongoing challenges in the Euro area and in our banking system.

But in the midst of some sobering facts, we should not lose sight of the positives for the UK – employment up by 181,000 last quarter; 840,000 private sector jobs created since this government came to power; and inflation down to 2.4 per cent in June.

These successes come in a very challenging climate, and though we still have much to do, they support the view that the Government is following the right economic strategy.

Our objective is to return this country to sustainable prosperity and to rebalance our economy.

That means fiscal consolidation, to sort out the public finances and ensure the UK commands the confidence of international markets.

If means supply side reform, ensuring Britain is an excellent place to do Business, and raising our growth potential.

And it means dealing with our long standing weaknesses – for example delivering a more mobile workforce, with the right skills in the right places.

Infrastructure enables us to deliver on the latter two. And through taking tough choices on government spending, we are in fact investing more in transport infrastructure and in broadband access and quality than at the height of the spending boom.

At the same time, the credibility that we have established has given the Bank of England space to keep the base rate low, and provide further monetary support for infrastructure investment, such as quantitative easing and the new Funding for Lending scheme, which came into operation last week.

And it has allowed us to support further investment directly, for example through the ‘UK Guarantees’ scheme that we announced a fortnight ago.

This will help to accelerate major infrastructure investment by offering guarantees of up to £40 billion of major projects, and a temporary lending programme that will allow around £6 billion pounds of public-private partnership projects to proceed without delay.

Already we have had over 30 expressions of interest since the announcement, and we continue to receive more on a daily basis.

The Treasury’s door is open to discussions with any project that meets our criteria – nationally significant, financially credible, good value for the tax-payer, dependent on a guarantee, and ready to start in a year – and we will deal with applications as quickly as possible.

I can tell you this morning that the Green Deal will be an early candidate for the use of these guarantees. The Green deal is the largest ever programme for investing in the energy efficiency of our Housing stock and we are looking at whether and how a guarantee could ensure that the finances are in place to get the programme of to a very strong start.

The deals my colleagues will be announcing later today show the UK is already in a strong position. And the work we are doing is building on that to strengthen it further still.

Alongside these measures to support investment finance, we are also taking major steps to remove non-financial barriers to investment – reforming our planning regulations, and identifying skills gaps or capability issues.

And to ensure that Britain’s infrastructure is delivering on Britain’s priorities, our National Infrastructure Plan sets out a clear vision for the £250 billion of investment that we expect to 2015 and beyond. Our updated plan brings together a comprehensive cross-sectoral analysis of the UK’s infrastructure networks, and sets out clear, long-term ambitions for improving performance in each sector.

Our newly established Cabinet Committee, which I chair, will ensure that this plan is delivered, focussing on the top 40 growth projects identified in the National Infrastructure Plan.

We have made great progress in removing barriers to investment – working with industry to resolve radar interference issues affecting four gigawatts of wind energy developments, and supporting the establishment of a new Pension Infrastructure Platform, which will make the first wave of its initial £2 billion investment in UK infrastructure by early 2013.

The scale of the challenges we face as a country makes delivering on our hugely ambitious infrastructure agenda all the more essential. We want to work together with you to make that happen by removing barriers to project delivery and creating a supportive environment for long term investment in infrastructure. Today’s conversation is an important staging post in realising those ambitions.

Thank you.

Danny Alexander – 2014 Speech to UK Oil and Gas Industry

dalexander

Below is the text of the speech made by Danny Alexander, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, to the Oil and Gas UK’s annual conference in Aberdeen on 12th June 2014.

 

Good morning.

Thank you Malcolm for that very kind introduction.

You and your colleagues at Oil & Gas UK are doing a first rate job.

And I want to commend you – for the hard work that you do – representing the oil and gas industry.

Whilst we might not always agree on everything…

… you are an influential voice speaking for the interests of the sector.

So for me it is a great honour to address your first annual conference.

And it’s a great pleasure to be invited to do so in Aberdeen.

This is one of the UK’s greatest cities.

As well as being a beautiful and welcoming city with a long history…

… Aberdeen also feels exciting.

It’s the excitement of being somewhere that is a real global hub of expertise.

It’s a bit like being in Silicon Valley in California or at the Science Park in Cambridge…

… a feeling that you are somewhere where the combination of ingenuity, endeavour, expertise, and entrepreneurship can achieve things previously thought impossible.

Because that is what you do – day in and day out.

Whether you are geologists, chemists or civil engineers.

Working on transportation, retail or professional services.

Upstream, midstream or downstream.

You are all doing something extraordinary.

Working against the elements – in one of the most adverse natural environments in the world.

To extract and deliver energy to millions of people across this planet.

To me that is a victory of human enterprise over natural adversity.

As a schoolboy in Lochaber in the 1980s – I know it is what attracted so many of my classmates to work in your sector.

And it’s why today, I know I speak on behalf of the whole UK government when I say…

… that I have – and we have – deep admiration for what your industry does.

You provide almost half a million jobs.

You supply enough energy to meet almost 40% of our country’s primary needs.

You have a world-class supply chain – renown internationally for its expertise and technical capability – particularly in key sectors like subsea, for example.

Your success is a critical part of the long-term economic plan that is bringing growth and jobs to every part of the UK.

This is precisely why the oil and gas industry is one of the UK’s global success stories…

… and why the coalition government has pulled out all the stops…

… and done everything we can…

… to support you.

The North Sea is a hugely important asset to our country.

Our goal is simple to articulate – but hard to achieve – to maximise the benefits that the North Sea can bring to our economy.

That means getting out every last drop of oil and gas that we can.

And in doing that, two key principles have underpinned our approach towards your industry.

The first has been to help you cope with the rising costs of extraction.

Because we know that in smaller, more remote fields it will cost more.

We have done that by introducing and extending field allowances.

That has included a whole range of initiatives:

– doubling the value of the small field allowance

– introducing a £500 million allowance for large shallow-water gas fields

– £3 billion allowance to support investment in large and deep fields, in particular at West of Shetland

– introducing an allowance for incremental investment in older fields

– a new allowance for onshore oil and gas projects

– creating a new cluster allowance for ultra high-pressure, high-temperature projects – something Oil & Gas UK themselves described as a “game changer” for the North Sea

And the impact of all of that has been significant.

Oil & Gas UK calculate that – last year alone – our field allowances directly supported around £7 billion worth of investment in the North Sea.

They have also supported over 100,000 jobs across the industry…

…. around half of them in Scotland.

And our allowances continue to have a positive impact.

Only today, a substantial new project by Premier Oil has received final approval.

The Catcher Project will see £1.5 billion of new investment and over 1,000 new jobs.

The CEO of Premier, Simon Lockett, is clear that the project “has been facilitated by the government’s small field allowances”.

I am very proud – that it is the policies of the UK government that are allowing and enabling this to happen.

The second principle underpinning our approach has been to provide your industry with greater certainty about the future.

That certainty is crucial to your continued success over the coming decades.

That is why, in 2012, we introduced a new approach…

… we were the first government in history to fully commit to future decommissioning tax relief.

With new contracts to give you certainty about the future costs you will face.

So far 61 deeds have been signed…

… a process we expect to help unlock billions of pounds worth of new investment.

Again, by thinking for the long-term, providing therefore jobs and growth today.

But the future does also holds other risks.

As the basin matures…

… production efficiency has been declining…

… fewer wells are being drilled.. . … and over future years other challenges will arise too.

And yet the opportunities are huge as well.

We are determined to work together with you to help make the UK a hugely attractive and exciting place to invest.

That is why the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Ed Davey, asked Sir Ian Wood to conduct his review into how to increase oil and gas production.

Sir Ian is a titan of your industry, and we should all be enormously grateful for the vision he has set out.

He recommended that a new independent agency should be set up to maximise economic recovery by increasing collaboration across the industry.

And between government and industry.

Today I can announce that the new agency will be called the “Oil and Gas Authority”.

We have been thinking about where it should be based.

It is my view that it should be headquartered at the heart of the UK’s oil and gas industry.

So I can tell you today that it will be based right here – in Aberdeen.

This city and your industry deserve that commitment – and I am very proud to make it.

And next week we will start the recruitment process to appoint their new CEO.

The new Oil and Gas Authority will work with the government on a wholesale review of the ring-fenced tax regime for the oil and gas industry…

… looking at everything from tax rates to tax allowances.

Because the North Sea is an extraordinary economic asset…

It generated almost £5bn worth of corporation tax revenues last year alone.

Impressive as that is, it is considerably lower than in the past.

Tax revenues have been declining for several years…

… and independent forecasters expect them to continue declining.

But just because the North Sea is becoming less of a tax asset…

… it doesn’t mean it can’t remain a top economic asset.

The review will look at how we achieve that transition.

In my mind, it is clear that, in the future, the North Sea will need to face a lighter tax burden than it does now.

Because that is the only way we can continue to attract investment, to extract full economic value, in the face of increasing costs, is to do it that way.

And next month we will launch a call for evidence to make sure you can all have your say as part of that review.

Field allowances.

Decommissioning relief.

A new agency based in Aberdeen.

A review of taxation.

All of that shows – I believe – the strength of the UK government’s commitment to the future of your industry.

The reason we’ve been able to do all of that…

… and the reason why we’ll be able to do more in future…

… is that we have stuck to our long-term economic plan.

It has meant taking some tough decisions to live within our means as a country.

When plenty of people said we should change course…

…. we stood our ground…

And the plan is now working.

In the past year we – the UK – have grown faster than any other major industrialised economy.

Thanks to your efforts, growth is balanced across sectors.

Almost one and a half million jobs have been created across in the private sector.

And our economy is set to continue recovering faster than any other G7 nation this year.

Britain is bouncing back.

We are able to look forward to the future of your industry because we are part of the United Kingdom.

I know how important stability and predictability is to the oil and gas community.

It is clear to me that the way to ensure stability is to be part of a larger and more diverse economy.

Because the UK as a whole can much more easily afford to sustain production and investment in the North Sea.

Let’s look at the numbers.

For the UK, oil and gas is 2% of our total tax receipts…

And decommissioning relief represents around 1% of our GDP.

As a separate country, oil and gas taxes would make up nearly 14% of Scottish tax receipts…

And the cost of decommissioning relief would be about 12% of Scottish GDP.

You don’t have to take my word for it.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies…

… a truly impartial and independent institution…

… set it out in crystal clear detail only last week.

The IFS say – and I quote – “Scotland is likely to face greater fiscal challenges than the UK”.

In other words, by staying in the UK, we would borrow proportionally less than a separate Scotland – from day one.

Scotland’s deficit – as a share of GDP – would be double that of the UK.

And that gap between the two gets bigger and bigger over time.

One of the main drivers of that is – I quote – “the likely long-run decline in revenues from oil and gas production”.

So what is the Nationalists solution to that question?

To make up hugely over-optimistic forecasts for future North Sea tax revenues.

Take, for example, the latest figures the Scottish government published, last month.

They are more optimistic than just about every other projection out there.

More optimistic than the views of most independent experts.

It’s yet another unrealistic prediction in a long list.

Like £1.5 trillion wholesale value figure yesterday – which assumes that gas prices match oil prices – when you all know that gas has sold for little more than half the price of oil.

Or ignoring the fact that this figure doesn’t include the costs of extraction – whether to pay for infrastructure, staff or drilling costs.

That’s not a very cautious approach to take the uncertainty your industry faces.

In this debate, I say, the nationalists’ numbers simply don’t add up.

By staying in the UK, our bigger and more diverse economy can help smooth the volatility in North Sea tax receipts.

This is my view – but it happens to have the backing of the independent IFS – I quote:

The eventual decline of oil revenues would likely prove a much more acute problem for an independent Scotland than it would for the UK.

This means that Scotland would likely need to implement further tax increases and/or spending cut.

For that reason, you should take guarantees of stability under independence with a big pinch of salt.

And be clear also…

As an economy.

As an industry.

There is a UK dividend from staying together.

As a United Kingdom we can ensure a brighter future for you and your sector.

You are the jewel in the crown of British industry.

So if you agree with me…

… I hope you will join me in making the case…

… that the people of Scotland should say “no, thanks” to independence.

We should all be proud of being Scots.

And feel proud about everything that your industry has achieved in Scotland.

But we can have the best of both worlds.

We have already increased powers with the Scotland Act in 2012.

That includes giving Holyrood greater control over a range of taxes – including the power to set a Scottish rate of income tax.

It’s the biggest act of financial devolution in Scotland’s history.

It means that we can find Scottish solutions to Scottish issues…

… while remaining part of a stronger and more stable United Kingdom.

There’s just under 100 days left until the referendum.

It’s the most important vote in the history of the United Kingdom.

Let us not forget that history when we head to the polls.

A history which has seen British ingenuity emerge triumphant time after time.

Over the centuries, our four nations have worked together to change the world.

The UK led the charge exploring oceans and continents across the globe.

We were the centre of the industrial revolution.

During the twentieth century we led innovations in science, culture and finance – to name a few…

… while twice fighting and beating tyranny when it threatened to take over the world.

All of that thanks to the hard work of the British people.

Whether Scottish, English, Welsh or Northern Irish.

We all have separate identities.

But our history leaves no doubt that…

… whatever our differences…

… there’s far more keeping us together than forcing us apart.

And the conquest of the North Sea symbolises the interconnectedness of our identities on these islands.

Scottish engineers, English drillers, Welsh divers and Northern Irish geologists.

All working together.

Showing how the United Kingdom is much greater than the sum of its parts.

I am a Highlander, a Scot, a British citizen and a European.

And one thing I know…

…deep inside me…

…is that together we achieve so much more than on our own.

So let’s stay as one United Kingdom.

Where the oil and gas industry can face the future with confidence and optimism.

Thank you very much.

Danny Alexander – 2014 Speech on Scottish Fiscal Policy

dalexander

Below is the text of the speech made by Danny Alexander, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, at the Apex Hotel in Edinburgh, Scotland, on 28th May 2014.

 

Good morning and welcome.

As you know, today the UK government is publishing the most comprehensive and definitive study of how independence would affect Scotland’s finances over the next 20 years.

I look forward to answering all your questions.

But first I would like to say a few words to set out this analysis.

On the 18th of September we face the most important vote in Scotland’s history.

Whether or not to remain part of the United Kingdom.

It’s a momentous decision.

And in my mind, there is no doubt.

By staying together, the Scottish and the UK economies can continue to grow and prosper.

And as a nation, we can continue to make the choices needed to live within our means and grow our economy.

But I know that many people are still undecided.

And the single biggest question in their minds is…

“Will we be better off together?”

So today…

…I can answer…

…yes, we will be better off.

Because there will be a huge benefit to staying in the United Kingdom…

You could think of it as a “UK Dividend”.

Or 1,400 reasons why we’re better off together.

So what is the UK Dividend?

There is a detailed explanation in the document we are publishing today.

Five key building-blocks underpin our analysis.

There is little dispute about each one of those…

… because they’re all based on reasonable and responsible assumptions…

… and all five are seen by independent organisations as significant factors in Scotland’s future. And together they tell a powerful story.

The first building block is what you might call Scotland’s financial starting point.

Should Scotland become independent, it would start off in life in a worse financial position than the UK.

That is the view of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, the Centre for Public Policy for Regions, Citigroup and many others.

Even the Scottish government’s own figures show that Scotland would face a shortfall between what the governments gets in tax and what it spends on public services.

So, as a separate country, Scotland would be running a bigger deficit than the UK – from day one.

Indeed, independent forecasters show that, in 2016, Scotland would be borrowing over 5% of national income.

That is double the deficit of the UK.

And the difference equates to around five and a half billion pounds…

…from day one.

But that’s just the starting point.

The second building block covers the direct cost of setting up a new state.

For example, as an independent country, Scotland would need to set up new institutions.

A new passport office.

A new benefits agency.

Or a new tax collection authority…

… that last one alone – as ICAS set out last week – would cost £750 million.

We have taken the best independent estimates, which put the cost of transition at up to 1% of GDP.

For Scotland that figure would be £1.5 billion.

At the same time, as a separate country, Scotland would have to pay higher interest rates to borrow in financial markets.

A whole range of experts, from the National Institute to Deutsche Bank, calculate that, under independence, interest rates are likely to be around 1% higher.

That’s worth £500 million per year in additional debt interest costs.

The third of our five building-blocks is the cost of the Scottish government’s promises.

They’ve set out their policies in the recent White Paper – but not the costs.

So we’ve looked through the fine print.

Put it through the Treasury’s models.

Using tried and tested methods…

… and calculated that the Scottish government’s new policies would cost at least £1.6 billion every year.

The fourth factor is the future of oil and gas production.

It is an indisputable fact that North Sea oil production has been declining for many years.

The independent Office for Budget Responsibility has made an impartial assessment of this.

They estimate that oil and gas revenues will fall by around 95%, as a share of our economy, over the next 20 years.

And the fifth factor affecting the future finances of Scotland is our more rapidly ageing population.

This is the well-established view of the UK Statistics Authority, the Institute for Fiscal Studies, the International Longevity Centre, and many others.

As Gordon Brown explained last month, the number of Scottish pensioners will rise from 1 million to 1.3 million over the next 20 years.

It means a shrinking number of working age people would have to pay for a growing number of old age pensioners.

So an independent Scotland would have to spend more to deliver the same services as now.

So where does all that leave us?

A worse starting point.

The cost of setting up a new state.

Unfunded policies.

Declining oil revenues and an ageing population.

All of that…

… easily avoided by staying within the UK…

… is worth fourteen hundred pounds.

For each person in Scotland…

… each year…

…for the next 20 years.

That’s the UK Dividend.

And the further ahead you look the more the pressures build.

That dividend…

… is our share of a more prosperous future.

It is the money that will pay for better public services and a fairer society.

Money for more teachers in better classrooms.

For nurses and midwives.

To put £1,400 per person in context…

On aggregate, it represents 11% of Scotland’s total public expenditure.

That’s equivalent to around two thirds of the total National Health Service budget in Scotland.

It’s almost as much as Scotland’s whole education budget.

So what does £1,400 mean to you and to me?

Well, for example, £1,400 is more than enough to pay for a year of free school meals for three children.

£1,400 pays for 10 weeks of someone’s state pension.

Alternatively, instead of cutting public services to fill the gap, as a separate country, the Scottish government could raise taxes.

For example, today the UK reaches what is known as “tax freedom day”.

That’s the day in the year when, on average, people stop giving their income to the government through tax and instead start keeping the money they’ve earned for the rest of the year.

But, as a separate country, each person in Scotland would have to hand over their income to the state for two more weeks.

Another way an independent Scotland could offset the £1,400 UK Dividend, without cutting public spending…

… is to increase the basic rate of income tax from 20 to 28%, increase VAT from 20 to 26% and increase duties on alcohol, tobacco and fuel by about 40%.

Of course, the nationalists will say that we’re wrong.

They will just continue to peddle myth after myth….

… saying that taxes wouldn’t be higher, that there’s loads of oil left, that public services won’t suffer, that growth will be stronger, that breaking away won’t be hugely expensive, that new institutions can be set up for free…

And all of those myths are refuted by the information we publish today.

And I am very happy to answer questions on all of that.

We are talking about Scotland’s finances over the next 20 years…

…they are talking about what’s happened over the past 5 years.

We are focused on the future – they are stuck in the past.

To conclude.

Today we have shown that, by staying together, Scotland’s future will be safer, with stronger finances and a more progressive society.

Because as a United Kingdom we can pool resources and share risks.

It means a UK Dividend…

… of fourteen hundred pounds a year.

For every man, woman and child in Scotland.

And if our history teaches one lesson, it is this…

… together we achieve so much more than on our own.

So let us look forward to a prosperous and a fair Scotland – thanks to the dividend that comes from staying in the UK.

And that is why…

… if you have your doubts…

… if deep down you feel that we’re better together…

… today we give you fourteen hundred reasons…

… why we’re better off together too.

Thank you very much.

Danny Alexander – 2014 Speech on Scottish Independence

dalexander

Below is the text of the speech made by Danny Alexander, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, on 30th April 2014.

 

I’m glad to see so many of you here this morning…

In a week when we can all celebrate good economic news.

Yesterday’s GDP figures were yet another example of the strength of the UK economy right now…

With – in the first quarter of this year – all three main sectors of the economy growing at above 3 per cent on a year earlier.

This is the first time this has happened in ten years…

It’s the result of the hard work of people…

From the southernmost point of Cornwall an area we granted national minority status last week…

All the way up to the Shetlands…

And it is another excellent example that – as a United Kingdom – we are well and truly seeing the recovery we so badly needed, thanks to the Coalition’s economic plan.

I remember when I was first invited to join the Treasury…

At a time of a grave economic outlook…

One of the best pieces of advice I was given…

Was that I would need to have a sense of humour about things.

And four years on, that has certainly been true!

I’ve been called a Ginger Rodent by Harriet Harman…

I’ve been told I bear a passing resemblance to Beaker from the Muppets countless times…

And a couple of weeks ago I found out about a new photo blog…

Called The Adventures of a Lego Danny Alexander.

Now, it’s perhaps true that the referendum campaign here in Scotland…

Hasn’t provided many laughs so far.

And given both the enormity – and the irreversibility – of the choice we face…

That is perfectly understandable.

This is, after all, the most serious decision any Scot will ever take.

But increasingly, as the campaign continues…

When it comes to some of the statements and assertions made by nationalists…

You really do need a sense of humour.

Because apparently, the same risks that apply to other countries wouldn’t apply to an independent Scotland.

Another financial crisis, for example, would pose no problem…

Because according to Business for Scotland…

The banks that needed bailing out in 2008 received funds according to the location of their operations…

Rather than the location of their headquarters.

A claim that ignores the reality…

That when the financial crisis hit…

It was the government of the United Kingdom that stepped in to recapitalise RBS and HBOS…

And the taxpayers of the United Kingdom that extended £275 billion of total support to RBS alone.

The nationalists may stick their heads in the sand when it comes to the global financial system…

And the profound consequences of independence for Scotland’s financial sector.

But I haven’t heard the reality put better than by the former Governor of the Bank of England who said that…

Banks are international in life, but national in death.

Second, there are the extraordinary set of claims that seek to reassure those living in Scotland…

That nothing much would change with independence…

Like the continued, belligerent, assertion that Scotland could – and would – keep the pound.

But while I can respect that Alex Salmond is passionate in his desire to break up the UK…

… he has to face up to the fact that the rest of the UK does not have to – and would not want to – continue to share the credit card.

There is also the fantastical claim, made in the White Paper…

That an independent Scotland would share a third of the UK’s institutions and services…

…despite the fact that this is completely unprecedented anywhere in the world.

This is a claim we have to listen to…

Whenever an institution crops up that the nationalists haven’t had time to think about…

Be it the National Lottery or the Met Office or the Passport Office…

So it won’t surprise me if next Saturday night…

Alex Salmond declares that an independent Scotland will share the UK’s automatic place in the Eurovision Song Contest final!

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been attending public meetings on the referendum in the Highlands.

And all of the myths I’ve just put forward are ones that have been put around by the nationalist campaign.

So I wanted to give this speech today, precisely because we cannot allow false or misleading claims by separatists to go unchallenged.

We need to make sure that when people go to the polls in September…

For the most important vote they will ever cast…

They are making an informed choice…

Based on evidenced facts.

Everyone in this room this morning knows the importance of balancing the books.

Indeed every family and individual in Scotland understands the tough choices involved in matching up outgoings with incomings.

It has been one of the defining features of the government to tackle the UK’s deficit and rebalance our economy.

And as our strong, growing economy and falling deficit shows…

…ours is a strategy that is working for all parts of the UK.

But by contrast, it is one of the defining features of the Scottish Government to ignore the realities…

…of Scotland’s larger deficit…

…and falling oil revenues…

because – unfortunately for them – these facts demonstrate quite clearly that we are better off together.

The nationalists’ assertions on Scotland’s finances are at best ill-informed…

And at worst, deeply misleading to Scottish voters.

In a few weeks time, I will set out government analysis of the many fiscal benefits of the United Kingdom…

But this morning I want to focus on debunking some of the more dangerous economic myths being propagated…

Namely those around oil and gas receipts.

And those around the national deficit.

On oil, there are some frankly incredible myths being put forward by the nationalists.

The first is the Scottish Government’s claim

…that the wholesale value of remaining oil and gas reserves amount to £1.5 trillion.

As with most of the Scottish Government’s oil numbers though…

…this is not only based on the most optimistic scenario for North Sea extraction…

…it is based on a scenario where oil price is the same as the price of gas.

But in recent years, gas – which accounts for 40% of forecast oil and gas production…

Has sold for little more than half as much as the equivalent volume of oil.

Yet over-optimism is not the Scottish Government’s worst offence in this particular example.

No, the fact is that the £1.5trillion figure doesn’t include any costs for getting the oil out of the ground…

And into the petrol pump.

It is apparently news to the nationalists that…

Oil rigs cost money to build and run…

Pipelines under the sea are expensive…

New technologies require investment…

And oil workers expect to be paid.

All told, more than £1 trillion is likely to be needed to extract the remaining oil and gas resources assumed by the Scottish Government.

So once you’ve taken these inconvenient overheads out of the equation, the value is much much lower…

And revenues for Scotland much much smaller.

But the nationalists aren’t ones to let a good fact get in the way of a nice electoral soundbite…

And so they claim – in their infamous Oil and Gas bulletin from last March – that more than half of oil and gas reserves have still to be extracted…

And thus plenty of government revenues from oil and gas are still to come.

But we simply cannot trust their forecasts:

– not just because they are more optimistic than any other published forecasts…

– not just because “there is a high degree of uncertainty around future North Sea revenues” – not my words…

The words of John Swinney in his private paper to colleagues…

But because the Scottish Government’s oil and gas tax forecasts have already been shown to be spectacularly wrong.

The Scottish Government forecast that in 2012-13, a Scottish share of North Sea oil and gas revenues would be almost £7 billion.

As it turned out, total UK oil and gas revenues were only slightly above £6 billion.

And for the financial year just passed 2013-14, the Scottish Government forecast that a Scottish share of North Sea revenues would be higher still…

More than £7 billion.

Well, HM Revenue and Customs has today confirmed that total UK North Sea revenues last year were £4.7 billion.

So over the past two years alone…

The revenues coming from oil for the whole UK…

Have been more than £3 billion below the Scottish Government’s most cautious forecasts.

Over the whole six year period of the Scottish Government’s Oil and gas bulletin 2012 to 2017…

Their most cautious forecast for Scottish oil and gas revenues is £41 billion.

Yet the independent Office for Budget Responsibility forecasts that whole UK revenues will be just £25 billion over the same period.

It doesn’t matter how deep you drill into the figures, they simply don’t add up.

It shows that the Scottish Government and realistic projections go together like water and oil…

And it leaves tens of billions of pounds missing from the Scottish Government’s White Paper.

Tens of billions of pounds that – under independence – can’t be raised across the UK

…but will have to be raised from Scottish businesses and individuals…

Or cut from Scottish services.

I have absolute faith in this country’s human resources.

And our resilience and work ethic…

Just as we Scots have always proven we have the imagination and the creativity to push boundaries in science and the arts and economics and exploration…

I have absolute faith that this country will keep producing great women and great men…

Who can push those boundaries further.

But while we should celebrate that our human resources have such potential…

We need to be realistic when it comes to our natural resources.

Our oil reserves are finite.

And we mustn’t let over-optimistic, unproven-projections…

Raise false hopes for economic plenty.

Better off as part of the UK

Let me deal with two final myths together…

Both the nationalists’ claim that Scotland would be better off…

And have lower taxes, higher spending and no austerity if we were independent…

And their biggest myth of all –

Their claim that the pro-UK campaign is only negative, or scare-mongering.

Because what these oil numbers published today show…

…and what I will argue for the next few weeks ahead of our final analysis paper…

…and the next few months ahead of the referendum

…is the indisputable point that we are better off together.

According to a range of independent estimates…

As part of the UK…

Scotland will face a smaller deficit, lower taxes and higher levels of public spending, both in the short, and the long term.

Independent organisations like the IFS, the CPPR and others have all shown that an independent Scotland would face a deficit of more than 5 per cent of GDP in 2016-17.

And forecasts from the IMF suggest this would be the second highest deficit of any advanced economy in the world.

On the other hand…

As part of the UK…

Scotland would be part of a nation with a deficit forecast of just 2.4 per cent of GDP in 2016-17, and falling further in subsequent years.

This means that…

In the year 2016-17 alone…

Independent experts agree that £1,000 less would be borrowed for each and every Scot as part of the UK…

Than would be the case in an independent Scotland.

An evidenced, positive reason that we are better and more secure together…

Today, in 2016-17 and beyond.

The Scottish Government know the fiscal position of an independent Scotland provides a “challenging context”.

Again, not my words but John Swinney’s private memo to his cabinet colleagues.

And today we now know that the figures in the white paper are already out of date.

But rather than confront these risks and uncertainties, the nationalists simply choose to peddle myth after myth.

They claimed the white paper would answer all the questions about independence.

That it would be the most detailed guide ever produced to a new country.

Instead, the white paper is full of false promises and misleading claims…

Based on an optimistic forecast for oil revenues that are already out by £3bn a year…

…containing policy proposals that are not funded and would not be affordable…

…and commitments that the Scottish Government pretends it can make on behalf of other nations and international organisations.

It is time for the Scottish Government to confirm what we all know…

…that the white paper was wrong.

A month ago the Centre for Public Policy for the Regions called on John Swinney to issue revised and realistic oil and gas forecasts…

…to correct the discredited Oil and gas bulletin

…and the errors at the heart of the White Paper.

I am repeating that call today.

The Scottish Government must confront the fact that it is promising tax revenues and public spending that it cannot deliver.

It should revise its oil and gas forecasts…

…Or – better yet – adhere to international best practice and follow an independent forecast like the OBR’s.

It is the very least that the Scottish voters deserve.

But I would like to end by saying – that there is actually one Scottish myth that I absolutely cannot – and would not be able to – disprove.

She’s about forty foot long…

Publicity shy…

And she lives in my constituency.

And if anyone here today, or any of your families…

Wants to come up to Loch Ness and spend a weekend looking out for her…

They will be very welcome indeed.

In short, there is more evidence for the Loch Ness monster…

Than there is for many of the calculations and the claims that have been put forward by the nationalists to support their case for separation.

I want everyone in Scotland to be part of an influential country…

Where businesses can thrive…

Where the economy can grow…

And where people can lead long, healthy, happy lives.

We have all those things as part of a United Kingdom.

We benefit from the shared sovereignty – and shared economy – that we enjoy as part of the strongest union of nations in world history.

And as Billy Connolly said yesterday…

And he put it better than any politician could…

The more people stay together, the happier they’ll be.

It would be a real folly – and a real danger – to put so much of what we have at risk.

Especially if we based our decision to do so on the over-optimistic, uncosted claims of the ‘Yes Campaign’.

We need to continue challenging these myths.

And we need to continue making clear to the people of Scotland that we really are better together.

Thank you.

Danny Alexander – 2014 Speech at Eurotunnel

dalexander

Below is the text of the speech made by Danny Alexander, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, at Eurotunnel on 23rd April 2014.

 

Thank you very much for welcoming me to Eurotunnel today.

I’m particularly delighted to be able to visit during your 20th anniversary year.

Over 330 million people have travelled through these wonderful tunnels.

To put that in some sort of context, it’s more than the entire population of the United States.

This Cross-Channel Fixed Link – and Eurotunnel as its operators – has had a huge impact on the transport and logistics industries…

Not to mention the UK economy more broadly.

The rolling motorway concept – with a crossing time of just 35 minutes – has never been more important.

The factories, supermarkets and consumers of today demand to-the-minute precision.

And Eurotunnel – for 20 years – has been delivering just that.

For 2.5 million cars every year.

For 1.4 million trucks every year…

And for thousands of high-speed passenger trains and rail freight trains too.

There’s something fabulous about the awesome engineering that makes our bridges, roads, railways and tunnels.

And let’s face it, when it comes to infrastructure – things don’t come much bigger and better than the Channel Tunnel and its supporting operations.

Even after 20 years, you stand out as exceptional.

Now, I want to spend this morning talking to you about why I love infrastructure so much…

Why I think it’s so important to our economy.

And what the government is doing to make sure we have an infrastructure fit for the 21st century.

But first I want to pay tribute to two very important groups of people.

The first group is the group of people who actually built this thing.

Over 15,000 thousand men and women were employed in the construction phase of this project.

An incredible work force that has delivered a stunning piece of engineering.

Sadly, 10 people lost their lives and I think we should reflect for a brief moment on that sad sacrifice.

The second group of people is YOU.

The men and women who run what is a unique commercial enterprise.

You should all be incredibly proud of what you do…

And what you add to the regional and national economy.

Now I know that – quite understandably – your 20th anniversary will be a real opportunity to celebrate your success.

To celebrate your success so far, and to reflect on everything you’ve done for the UK economy.

But it’s also an opportunity to look forward to the possibilities for the future…

And I was very excited to hear that there is plenty of capacity to further increase the use of the tunnels.

By 2020, there will be another 500,000 trucks using the tunnel each year.

And another 4.5 million passengers…

And this is good news for British businesses looking to export.

Good news for the British public.

And good news for British jobs too.

As if that wasn’t impressive enough…

Eurotunnel is now embarking on expansion and on a major new energy project.

You’re not only focusing on delivering higher and higher passenger and freight numbers – important though that is.

You’re looking at how this unique infrastructure asset fits into the wider infrastructure of the UK and Europe.

And the plans I’ve been hearing about to increase capacity on the M20 motorway exit are as ambitious as they are crucial.

Those four new lanes will support the forecast growth in the use of the tunnel.

And they will also help smooth the flow of vehicles into, and out of, the south east of England.

I’m aware that in certain circumstances – problems with the ferries or exceptional peak demand – vehicles end up backing up onto the M20.

And I’ve been told that Kent Police have to implement ‘Operation Stack’ on such occasions and use the M20 as a giant lorry park…

Which causes massive disruption across East Kent.

So the expansion of your approaches will really benefit the local, regional and national economy.

It’s a great example of joint working between private business, and local and national government.

On top of that, the plans to broaden the number of routes by passenger trains using the tunnel are really significant.

Because for every Brit – like me – looking forward to a whole new range of weekend break destinations becoming accessible, they’ll be tourists and business people all across Europe looking to come to the UK. These new routes will also open up new opportunities for British business; increasing access to some key European markets.

And anyone who thinks Eurotunnel is just about transporting goods and people will soon need to think again.

Because your plan to run a 1 Giga-Watt electricity interconnector to link the French and UK power grids has huge potential.

I’ve heard today how this will help the UK to balance its supply and demand of energy.

And it’s a great example of optimising existing infrastructure for vital new uses.

Now while you’ve got 20 years of real success to look back on…

With plenty of exciting work to come!

But – while there is a hell of a lot more work to come from us – I’m pleased with the progress we’re making.

We made infrastructure a key priority.

I am driven by the knowledge that we can only build a stronger economy by investing in our infrastructure.

If we want to build a strong, thriving economy for the 21st century…

Then we need to have the infrastructure to support it.

And the government has to lead by example.

And we have to create the right climate for businesses to invest.

Research suggests our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) could have been 5% higher each year between 2000 and 2010 if our infrastructure had matched that of other leading global economies.

So, despite the need to tackle the deficit, we’ve prioritised vital capital investment.

Of course, infrastructure generates short-term benefits as it is built, improved or maintained.

It requires materials and services, with jobs created right along the supply chain.

And I’m told that Eurotunnel provides 830 direct – and 3 000 indirect – jobs in the UK.

But the long-term impact is far more significant.

New or improved infrastructure can give people access to more and better jobs.

It can improve the choice, price and quality of goods and services for consumers, helping to raise living standards.

And it can enable businesses to interact with a greater number of other firms.

In short, it supports economic growth.

It’s impossible to overstate this point.

The only way to build a stronger economy that will last.

The only way to improve living standards is for businesses to invest and for a substantial part of that investment to be in infrastructure.

You at Eurotunnel are a shining example of private investment.

So what are we as government doing to make sure that our roads and rail and digital and energy networks are amongst the best in the world?

Well, we’re providing high level planning.

We’re helping with local planning.

And – most importantly – we’re working on financing.

On high level planning, we published the first ever National Infrastructure Plan in 2010…

And we’ve refreshed it every year since.

This document sets out our analysis of the infrastructure that the UK needs, and our strategy for delivering it.

And we also publish an infrastructure pipeline…

Which acts as a prospectus for investors:

– identifying key infrastructure requirements for decades to come

– and alerting us to pinch-points in supply chain capacity, to make sure we are well equipped to meet our infrastructure needs

For example – and from where I stand this example seems particularly relevant – analysis of the pipeline indicates significant new tunnelling capability will be required to deliver key projects like HS2 and Thames Tideway Tunnel. Together with Crossrail, government has invested in a new tunnelling academy to ensure we build these key skills to meet the demand.

On local planning we’re committed to speeding up and streamlining the planning system.

And – amongst other reforms in this area – just this month we opened a new Planning Court.

This is a dedicated court to consider Judicial Reviews of major infrastructure schemes…

Which will prevent them from being held up by frustrating delays.

In 2011, if an application went all the way to a final hearing…

It would take – on average – just over a year.

Under the new Planning Court, this time will be cut in half.

On financing, as I’ve already said, the government is also prioritising public investment in infrastructure, including for the likes of High Speed 2.

Incidentally, I was delighted to travel to Folkestone on HS1 this morning.

Another example of infrastructure delivering economic growth.

I urge any critic or opponent of HS2 to look at the success of HS1.

But as a government we’re also helping kickstart vital privately financed infrastructure projects…

By providing financial guarantees – through our UK Guarantee Scheme – to help get them off the ground.

That scheme has helped pave the way for the Mersey Gateway Bridge, where construction will start imminently.

And guarantees are also supporting a coal to biomass conversion at Drax Power Station…

And the extension of the Northern Line to Battersea.

And earlier today the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change announced a package of investment in renewable energy infrastructure that will bring forward up to £12 billion of private sector investment, generating enough clean electricity to power over 3 million homes.

These are all helpful developments – and they are all having an impact.

But we need to be realistic…

And we need to realise that updating this country’s infrastructure won’t happen overnight.

It will take time, and it will require continued close working between government and the private sector.

But we are seeing strong progress.

Since 2010, over 2000 infrastructure projects or improvements to infrastructure been successfully completed.

That’s ten projects every week.

Projects large and small, all over the UK.

Don’t worry, I don’t plan to talk to you about each and every one.

But I do want to give you a flavour of what’s been delivered.

– flood defences, over 500 schemes have been completed – including vital defences protecting thousands of homes along the River Trent in Nottingham, and on the Humber in Stallingborough

– transport, over 650 upgrades are now complete – from the enormous new London Gateway Port, to hundreds of train station improvements up and down the country

– energy generation, over 850 projects have been completed….

Including the £1.5 billion London Array offshore wind project, the £1.3 billion gas-fired power station in Pembroke, and the world’s largest solar bridge at Blackfriars Station.

Those 850 projects also include many smaller scale green energy schemes of local significance. The Osney Lock Community hydro scheme in Oxford is a great example.

And there have been a number of communications, science, waste and water projects completed too.

So whether it’s a transport upgrade that makes a real, tangible impact on a local community…

Or a major energy scheme of national significance…

The government is delivering.

And by working in partnership with companies like Eurotunnel – people like you – we can continue to transform the UK’s infrastructure.

Together, we can provide the infrastructure this country needs to support jobs and growth.

You are a world leading example of what our engineers can achieve.

You are a world leading example of the positive economic advances that infrastructure delivers.

I have hugely enjoyed my visit here today in your 20th year.

Thank you so much for hosting me.

Danny Alexander – 2014 Speech to the National Association of Pension Funds

Below is the text of the speech made by Danny Alexander, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, to the National Association of Pension Funds on 7th March 2014.

 

dalexander

 

Introduction

Thanks Joanne [Segars].

When I was asked to come here to Edinburgh this morning…

And talk to you about the role pension funds might play in the future UK economy…

It was obvious that the most important question to address, was whether we will still be part of the UK in a years’ time.

I look at this debate as someone who was brought up in a small community in the Highlands…

Studied in Oxford…

Worked in Edinburgh, London, then the Cairngorms…

And now splits his working week between Inverness and London.

I’m a proud Highlander, married to a West Country Girl.

So – like most Scots – the UK is woven into the fabric of my life.

Today I want to speak to you as a Scottish MP, and as a British Treasury Minister.

Like many of you, I am proudly and passionately Scottish.

But the choice in Scotland is not one of emotion…

But one that must be based on a weighing of the evidence.

So I want to set out to you today, why – having looked at all the evidence…

I could never recommend independence to my constituents in Inverness, nor to anyone else.

You too – as a hugely important UK industry – need to have access to as much analysis and information as possible, to make your decisions on independence.

What you want to know is how independence would affect your businesses…

How independence would affect the customers you serve…

And what it would mean for your sector.

And it’s those questions that I want to discuss with you this morning.

I want to talk about the impact independence would have on the currency here, on regulation here, and on pension protection here.

Currency Union

The currency question is probably the biggest independence question.

And it was with your need for certainty – and other businesses need for certainty – in mind, that we made absolutely clear last month…

That if the Scottish people vote for independence…

There will not be a currency union between Scotland and the rest of the UK.

It’s not going to happen.

A currency union would not work for the rest of the UK…

And a currency union would not work for an independent Scotland.

This is my conclusion.

It is the conclusion reached by the Chancellor of the Exchequer…

It is the conclusion reached by the Shadow Chancellor.

And it is the conclusion of the detailed analysis…

By impartial Treasury officials…

Who used the same approach to that which evaluated whether we should join the euro.

No bluff, no bluster – certainly no bullying – just a simple statement of fact.

I’ve seen some people suggest we are not serious about refusing a currency union.

Let’s call this the John McEnroe defence.

Except in this instance it’s not just one person they’re shouting at, but three.

And our decision – taken in the best interests of Scotland and the rest of the UK – is final.

No ifs, no buts.

The SNP may not like it, but they should stop complaining about it and deal with the consequences.

No matter how much of a racket they make, it isn’t going to change.

And it isn’t going to change, because…

In the event of independence, a currency union wouldn’t be in the interests of a continuing UK.

It would decrease economic sovereignty…

And it would increase the risk of having to bail out a foreign country.

Alex Salmond has said that transaction costs would force the UK into a currency union.

And it’s true that they are one of the many costs that independence would impose.

But if transaction costs were the only issue…

The rest of the UK would use the euro or the dollar.

Events in Europe over the last few years have demonstrated very clearly the risks of shared currencies.

But Mr Salmond seems to have been so swept up by his own obsession with separation…

That he’s failed to notice the Eurozone crisis, or learn anything from it.

And he cannot honestly expect that Scotland would walk away from the rest of the UK…

But that UK taxpayers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland would agree to stand behind the Scottish economy.

It’s like embarking on a damaging divorce and insisting you should still share a credit card.

The polls show the public wouldn’t support it.

And parliament wouldn’t pass it.

As well as not being in the best interests of a continuing UK…

As the only Treasury spokesperson across the 3 main parties who is a Scot…

I can say that a currency union would not be in the interests of an independent Scotland either…

And in the event that Scotland did vote yes, I would argue just as forcefully against a currency union.

In their desperation to pretend that nothing would change under independence…

The Yes campaign are simply ignoring political and economic realities.

A currency union would require an independent Scotland to submit all its tax plans – all its spending plans – to a foreign government.

It would mean interest rates set by a central bank in a separate and much larger country.

And a currency union would leave Scotland far more exposed to the sorts of damaging economic shocks we’ve seen in the periphery of the euro…

Because Scotland would walk away from the ability to pool risk and investments – something your industry knows all about – with the rest of the UK.

It would also be the case that Scotland wouldn’t have its own exchange rate to help adjust – for example – to an oil price shock.

So an independent Scotland would have to respond to a fall in oil revenues by cutting public spending or raising taxes significantly.

As part of the UK, Scotland is insulated from these impacts.

In the last Autumn Statement for example, the OBR cut its forecast for North Sea revenues by almost £4bn over the next three years.

But instead of needing to cut spending, the Scottish Government saw its budget rise by more than £300m.

Treasury analysis shows that for each 20 dollar fall in the oil price, an independent Scotland would lose 11,000 jobs.

And with an economy so dependent on oil, inflation in an independent Scotland would be much more volatile than as part of the UK.

Not only that.

A currency union would also leave an Independent Scotland at the mercy of financial speculators, who…

If they questioned Scotland’s commitment to the Currency Union…

Could trigger capital flight, higher interest rates and possibly the collapse of the union itself…

Just as we saw in the break-up of the old Czechoslovakia, where their attempt at currency union lasted just 33 days.

The simple answer is, that the only way to keep the UK pound…

And to keep the stability that comes with it…

Is to keep the UK together.

Other Options

With a currency union now off the table, what are the other options?

There are three…

Each with short term risks…

And long term uncertainty. As Jose Manuel Barroso made clear last month…

Smooth transition into EU Membership is not to be assumed the way the Scottish government would have us believe.

And securing an opt-out from the euro is far from guaranteed.

But joining the euro currency union is no more attractive an option than a Sterling currency union…

For all the reasons I’ve just laid out.

A new currency for Scotland – a Scottish pound…

Would at least fit the rhetoric of full economic independence…

But it would require – immediately – a new central bank and financial sector regulator, to be established…

At a great cost – and at very real risk – to the Scottish financial sector and taxpayer.

It would also require redenomination across the entire Scottish economy – again a lengthy, costly, dangerous and destabilising process.

The final option would be sterlingisation…

Allowing the pound to circulate without a currency union.

Which would see Scotland take the same economic approach as [such financial powerhouses as] Panama and Montenegro.

But this would leave the Scottish government borrowing in a currency over which they had no control…

With very limited levers to support financial stability.

Three options – all with short term costs.

All with long term uncertainty.

And none with the stability of our current arrangement.

What this means

The currency debate isn’t just an issue for people who wear pinstripe suits and read the Financial Times.

It isn’t just an issue about using the pound if you travel to the rest of the UK.

This is an issue that affects the money in all of our pockets and purses and wallets.

People are rightly starting to worry.

Because, in the event of a yes vote…

We haven’t been told the currency we’ll be getting paid in, or handing over at the supermarket.

We haven’t been told the currency our savings will be denominated in, let alone the interest rates they’ll be accruing.

The Treasury is seeing a real increase in letters and the emails to the UK government from people worried by those questions.

Savers worried that their ISAs won’t be protected.

Pension holders worried about the security of their funds.

Small businesses worried their accounts will soon be with a foreign bank, in a foreign currency.

And if we’re receiving that many letters, I can only imagine how many they’re getting down the road in Holyrood.

That’s why Alex Salmond has to come out and tell us Scots what his plan B is.

So it is all the more extraordinary that on this – one of the most essential questions…

They have nothing credible to say at all.

And that is Alex Salmond’s problem.

He is a man without a plan B.

He’s flirted with the euro.

He’s hinted at sterlingisation.

And each and every time he’s realised that the Scottish people want the UK pound as part of the UK.

The weakness of any Plan B is not an argument for a currency union…

It is the clearest argument yet against independence.

Because the only way to keep the strength and the stability of the UK

Is to keep the United Kingdom.

Pensions Risks

The currency question represents the biggest single risk of independence for your sector.

But there are two other risks that I’d like to cover quickly.

Namely risks around regulation and pension protection.

On regulatory risks, it’s clear for all to see that Scotland and the rest of the UK benefit from our large domestic market in financial services.

There are currently no restrictions on buying and selling financial products throughout the country…

So 70 per cent of pension products bought by Scottish consumers in 2011-12, were from firms based in the rest of the UK…

And 91% of pensions sold by Scottish firms were to non-Scottish customers.

But Scottish independence would break-up the current domestic market…

And – in turn – detach Scotland from our single regulatory framework.

We would have separate regulatory and tax regimes under separate governments.

And while these regimes may be similar at the outset, it is inevitable that they would diverge over time…

Building barriers to trade that don’t currently exist.

Experience shows us that – even in single market areas, like the EU – borders reduce flows of products, money and people.

And it is very rare for certain financial products – like mortgages and pensions – to be sold across borders, even within the EU.

So creating an international border would reduce financial firms’ ability to spread risk…

And drive up the cost of financial products – like pensions – for Scottish households.

On pension protection…

At present – as you’ll know well – members of defined benefit schemes are protected through the Pension Protection Fund.

A fund that protects millions of people across the UK…

And pays compensation to all those people whose defined benefit schemes have become insolvent and are unable to meet their obligations.

But in the event of independence…

Members of defined benefit schemes here in Scotland would no longer be protected.

Of course, the Scottish government could set up its own Protection Fund.

In fact, if Scotland were part of the EU, they would have to set up such a Fund.

But unlike now…

Where the risks are spread across the UK, and across a large number of defined benefit schemes…

The number of providers in an independent Scottish state would be much lower…

Which would mean the costs of a scheme becoming insolvent being spread across a much smaller base.

As the NAPF themselves have said…

This would be likely to create much higher costs.

And I quote…

“[Those] costs may have to be passed on to pension scheme members, eroding the value of their pension savings.”

For hundreds of thousands of Scots, their pension pots are literally their life savings built up over decades of hard work.

Their financial security in retirement depends on having a stable, strong and dependable pension system.

And in the absence of detailed and rigorous economic plans from the SNP…

A vote for Independence opens the flood gates to a sea of uncertainty on currency, rates and regulation all of which puts the value of those life savings at risk.

Would you want to be the first Scot to claim their pension after Independence with all this risk and uncertainty?

How those referendum votes end up in the ballot box will have a profound impact on how much money we find in our pay, our pocket and our pensions.

Scotland has built a hugely successful pension and financial services sector here in Edinburgh…

Scottish businesses, built on British foundations.

But with a different regulatory system and a different currency and different pensions protections…

Many companies would have no choice but to relocate their businesses…

Cutting jobs in Scotland and damaging our economy.

It is striking that in recent weeks we’ve heard the news of BP… Shell… RBS… Lloyds…Standard Life all recognising that independence isn’t the right choice for Scotland.

The decision we Scots face in the referendum will be irreversible.

There will be no going back.

We now know that separation would leave us:

– Without the pound

– With our pensions and savings at risk.

– And having to apply to join the EU

This is a decision not just for our generation but for our children and grandchildren.

Within the UK, we have the best of both worlds.

We make decisions for Scotland…

Backed up by the strength, stability and security of the UK.

UK Pension triumphs

Our simplifications and reforms of your sector will be one of the areas where the government’s legacy lasts longest.

Auto-enrolment will see nearly 6 million people enrolled into workplace pension schemes by the end of this parliament…

And will ultimately see up to 9 million people making up to £11bn of new and increased pension savings every year.

The single tier pension will provide millions of individuals with a firm foundation to support saving.

With – from 2016 – a level of state pension sufficient to keep someone with a full entitlement out of the means testing system giving them over £145 a week in today’s money.

And it will particularly benefit those groups that – under the current system – have tended to build up low amounts of savings. Like

Women with broken work records…

The low paid…

And the self-employed…

And the triple lock too, has helped to protect the most vulnerable members of our society.

The basic state pension will go up by no less than 2.5%, and more when prices or earnings are higher.

It means that from next month, the level of the full basic state pension will be around £8.50 a week higher than it would have been, had it been uprated by earnings [since 2011-12].

Which equates to about £440 per person, per year.

But not only have our changes helped people to save for the future.

They’ve also helped you, to help us, build for the future.

And I want to congratulate the NAPF on setting up the first Pensions Infrastructure Platform fund last year.

It goes without saying that I would love to see even more pension funds getting on board…

And investing in our country’s infrastructure…

And I’ll be very happy to set up meetings between IUK and any interested companies here to take discussions forward.

Because this is a real opportunity for you to invest in the exact projects that will help the industries of the UK, and the people of the UK…

To thrive long into the future.

Conclusion and Importance of the pound

And that United Kingdom…

A full economic, fiscal and political union…

Including Scotland…

With full use of the UK pound…

Is exactly what the industries and the people of this country need.

Look at the strength and security and certainty it offers.

Our collective strength is the platform from which your businesses succeed.

Our collective strength is the foundation on which jobs are created.

And our collective strength is the reason that savers feel their money is secure.

So I want – as a Scottish member of the UK Government – to offer you as much certainty as I can.

Vote no in September and we can continue to share a currency.

Vote no in September and we can continue to share a regulatory framework.

Vote no in September and we can continue to protect the public’s pensions.

And then we can get back to – at this conference next year…

Focussing on the role you can play in supporting infrastructure…

And encouraging savings…

And building a stronger economy, and a fairer society here in the United Kingdom.

Thank you.

Danny Alexander – 2014 Speech on Scottish Independence

Below is the text of the speech made by Danny Alexander, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, on Scottish Independence and EU membership. The speech was made in Glasgow on 17th January 2014.

 

dalexander

 

Thank you William [Hague].

What you’ve said is a real reminder of just how influential the UK is internationally.

How we project our collective power and our ideas for good…

And particularly for the benefit of the poorest and most disadvantaged people in the world.

Read ‘Scotland analysis: EU and international issues’.

Being on track to meet the target of 0.7% of GNI on international aid, even in these most challenging times, is one of our proudest achievements

It was also a reminder of how being in the United Kingdom family…

And the influential membership that gives us of…

The EU. The UN.

The G7. The G8. The G20.

The IMF. The World Bank.

Really gives us – as Scots – an ability to punch above our weight internationally.

To fight for Scottish interests across the world.

To promote Scottish values across the world.

And to export Scottish products across the world.

It’s one of the most powerful reasons why we’re better as part of the United Kingdom.

The research before us today gives us Scots – I think – two powerful messages.

The first is that – as William majored on – we have more influence in the world as part of the UK.

And the second is that our membership of these international organisations – those I just mentioned – comes a lot cheaper as part of the UK.

And my message is that – by leaving the UK – we would pay more…

But that we’d influence less, and we’d achieve less.

I’ll explain shortly how – on our EU membership alone – Scotland will be between £1.9 billion and £3.8 billion better off as part of the UK in the next 7 years.

But before I get into the details, I want to talk about the principles.

The question that will be put in September is of monumental importance.

The UK is a family of nations that has grown together through good times and bad times.

Our ancestors have literally fought and died to protect it from harm.

And I ask everyone in Scotland to reflect on our history.

We are woven together in so many ways…

And I have a strong sense that as the debate intensifies – as the referendum gets closer – that the rest of the UK doesn’t want to see our family of nations torn apart.

Our nation is valued and appreciated.

The UK is successful.

And let’s remember that a ‘Yes to Independence’ vote is a one way ticket.

There will be no going back.

Money

So William has already explained why we Scots would lose influence and clout by leaving the UK…

But why – you might ask – does it also save Scotland money?

Surely greater influence comes at a greater cost?

But the truth is, that as a United Kingdom we simply have more financial clout.

You may have seen that earlier this week I made clear that the UK Government would – of course – honour our debts should independence occur.

And that an independent Scotland would pay its fair and proportionate share of the debt to the continuing UK Government.

We took that action to ensure that those who lend to us continue to do so at low interest rates – which is crucial for every business and mortgage-holder across the whole UK, including in Scotland.

The markets were showing the first signs of unease and nervousness at a situation in which they might have ended up being owed money by a newly Independent Scotland with no credit history of its own.

Because all the experts agree that a new country with no track record in financial markets – like an independent Scotland – would not retain the same credibility in financial markets as the UK.

The National Institute of Economic and Social Research has estimated that an independent Scotland could expect to pay a premium above UK borrowing costs of up to 1.7 percentage points.

With UK gilt yields currently around 3 per cent, that would mean an independent Scotland paying more than one and a half times the interest rate we get as part of the UK right now.

The referendum will decide whether that is a price we want to pay in future…

But I was not going to allow taxpayers in all parts of the UK to pay more for that risk in advance of the referendum.

EU Budget – paying more to get less

Our Union – our history – is crucial here.

In debt management, we achieve better deals for everyone in Scotland because of our collective strength.

And that is true elsewhere.

Let’s look at the EU…

Before we get into the detail of the analysis, I won’t surprise anyone if I say that I’m a strong supporter of the European Union…

Or that I believe our membership is vital for our economy, that our coalition believes it is vital for investment and trade, but above all for jobs.

I don’t think the EU is perfect. I think it’s far from it…

But I think we’re at our best when we’re at its centre.

Reducing bureaucracy…

Leading trade deals…

Something – again – we have far more clout in as part of the UK.

But our membership of the EU doesn’t come for free.

The UK contributes to the EU budget, like each member state.

And those combined contributions are then distributed throughout the Union, based on seven-year budget agreements.

Now, explaining, and quantifying the benefits of our EU budget position isn’t ever the most straightforward task!

But I’ll try to do it as clearly as possible today.

The bottom line is this.

Scotland outside of the UK would have to negotiate its own way back into the EU…

And – as such – its terms of membership would be entirely different to those it currently enjoys.

At present, Scotland gets the benefits of EU Membership at a discount of between £1.9bn and £3.8bn over the next 7 years…

And that’s because we are part of the UK.

Outside of the UK we’d pay more and get less.

CAP and Structural

In terms of paying in, every nation contributes according to their National Income…

And in terms of receiving money back, there are two main programmes:

– Structural and Cohesion Funds

– Common Agricultural Policy – or CAP

And it’s easy to see the impact both those funds have here in Scotland.

In Glasgow the Structural Funds have helped turn old buildings like the town hall into new cultural and digital projects.

And Structural Funds in my own part of Scotland, in the Highlands, have had an even bigger impact.

CAP payments too, play a crucial role in supporting farmers across the country.

Rebate

On top of those funds, the UK also receives a unique, permanent rebate on our contributions.

This rebate is – essentially – the refund we get on what we pay in to the EU budget.

We get some back, because we don’t take as much out as other Member States.

And the UK’s rebate is currently worth around £3 billion pounds every year.

It was hard fought for…

It took 12 years after entry to achieve…

And it is strongly objected to by every other member, every time the budget is negotiated.

Now, the research before you models the impact that Scotland’s independence would have on each of those three areas.

On Structural Funds, Scotland would lose out on around £200 million over this seven year spending round…

And that’s because the UK Government has recognised Scotland’s specific needs, and acted to ensure that Scotland received – compared to England – a higher percentage of the UK allocation.

On CAP payments, the picture is more complex.

There are question marks over transition periods, and negotiated splits, and whether Scotland’s CAP payments would need to be phased in over a 10 year spell…

As has happened to every other country that has joined the EU in the last three accessions.

But in the best case scenario – incidentally the only scenario put forward by the Scottish Government.

In the best case scenario CAP payments would increase by £850 million over the seven years…

And in the worst case scenario – CAP payments – would in fact decrease by over £1bn.

But the most important figure here is what would happen with the rebate.

The Scottish Government’s position is that the UK’s rebate can simply be shared in the event of independence.

But that’s not how a rebate works.

It’s not an annual lump sum that can be divided.

It’s based on a formula, reflecting the UK’s respective shares in the EU’s economy and receipts…

So the new amount would relate to the continuing UK, excluding Scotland.

There would be no ‘Scottish share’ left.

For Scotland to secure a rebate, or a correction upon accession…

There would have to be a change to the rulebook approved by every other single EU member state.

Quite simply, it would be unprecedented.

No other country has ever secured any budgetary correction on joining the EU…

So it is inconceivable that an independent Scotland would secure a rebate as the UK has…

In the unlikely event that any correction could be secured at all.

We also have to remember that all new member states contribute to the UK’s rebate…

Which means that an independent Scotland – like any other EU member state – would have to make a contribution to the rest of the UK…

We calculate nearly £600m over the seven year period.

The numbers

So – adding those factors together – how much might it cost for an independent Scotland to be a member of the EU?

The best case scenario for an independent Scotland, based on the Treasury’s analysis, is that for 2014 through to 2020…

With structural funds going down, a loss from the UK rebate, a contribution to the UK rebate…

And an increase in CAP receipts.

Scotland would be £1.9 billion worse for the period.

And in the worst case scenario…

Where CAP receipts went down rather than up…

Scotland’s net position would be £3.8bn worse.

What this means for Scottish families is that over the next seven years…

Continuing as part of the United Kingdom will save them at least £750 per household.

Possibly climbing to £1 470 per household.

So, as part of the UK…

We Scots pay less, and we get more out of our EU membership.

UN

Of course, the EU is just one example.

What about – say? – the UN?

As part of the UK, Scottish views – Scottish values – are represented by one of the founder members, with a permanent seat on the Security Council.

And while an independent Scotland could join the family of the United Nations…

It wouldn’t have that permanent Security Council seat, and the influence it brings…

And it would also pay for its membership at a rate equivalent to similar countries.

So – with regards to the UN’s regular budget – our analysis shows that an independent Scotland might be expected to contribute between $12.9m and $18m a year…

And to the peacekeeping budget, between $50m, and $64m.

That’s before we take into account the UN’s specialised agencies, like UNESCO or the World Health Organisation.

White paper

This is a huge decision for Scotland.

And – as such – we can’t afford to base it on anything but the very best information.

But what struck many people about the Scottish Government’s White Paper at the end of last year…

Was that when it came to money – time after time – their figures made clear they were based on a very partial account of the “best case scenario only.”

But I think the Scottish people deserve to see the best and the worst case scenarios.

And it’s fair to say that some of the Scottish Government’s best case scenarios are optimistic.

That Scotland would keep the pound they claim – despite the fact that such an arrangement would be highly unlikely to work, and highly unlikely to be agreed.

That Scotland would be in a stronger fiscal position than the rest of the UK – a claim based on wildly optimistic oil and gas forecasts, which conveniently ignores unfunded commitments on tax and childcare.

Or that Scotland would join the EU under article 48 – despite the fact that many key figures have said this couldn’t happen.

Conclusion

But when it comes to the EU – what the facts show – is that Scotland and the rest of the UK are better together, and stronger together.

And everything we’ve covered today only serves to highlight that.

As a United Kingdom we get a seat on all the most important international tables…

And put Scottish values and British at the centre of all global decisions.

As a United Kingdom we have a historic and successful network of embassies and trade bodies across the world.

Which opens up the whole globe for Scots to travel and do business in.

And as a United Kingdom we secure good deals on debt and on the cost of these memberships…

Which puts more money back in Scottish pockets.

But by leaving the United Kingdom.

We would see our international influence decrease.

And we would see the costs to our country increase.

We would be getting less, and paying more.

So let’s keep a situation where we pay less, and we get achieve more in the world together.

We are better together.

Thank you for listening.

Danny Alexander – 2013 Speech on the National Infrastructure Plan

Below is the text of the speech made by Danny Alexander, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, on 4th December 2013 at The Institution of Civil Engineers.

 

dalexander

 

Introduction

I hope that Paul’s [Deighton, Commercial Secretary to the Treasury] comments…

And those completed projects he ran us through…

Show that our infrastructure plan is making a difference in every corner of Britain…

Underground, overground…

On shore, off shore…

Wired, wireless…

Tarmac, train track…

You name it. We’re building it. Right now.

And the renewal of our infrastructure is renewing the very foundations of our economy.

I’m enormously grateful to Paul, for the excellent job he’s done – during his first year in office – in taking that work forward.

His influence has been felt not just down the corridor at the Treasury…

But across the rest of Whitehall and beyond.

But while we celebrate delivering today…

We should also remember that these – the National Infrastructure Plan and the Investment Pipeline – are live documents.

And for me – they serve three main purposes.

First – as we’ve heard – they act as a benchmark against which we can measure our progress.

Second – their existence helps to embed the idea of infrastructure as a vital part of our national life.

And third. They give long term clarity and certainty to investors and the public.

In developing the National Infrastructure Plan – as Paul said – we’ve worked in close collaboration with industry and finance…

To make sure we meet your needs, and remove any obstacles to delivering the programme.

You told us you wanted a clearer picture of future work.

So we created the pipeline.

You asked us to have a greater sense of priority…

So we designated the top 40 projects.

And you asked us to make it easier to get those priority projects through the system.

So we’ve listened, and we’ve delivered all the reforms to planning and judicial review that Paul has just set out.

The pipeline is the most comprehensive overview of planned and potential infrastructure investment ever produced.

It also acts as a prospectus for investors, identifying key UK private and public sector infrastructure requirements for decades to come.

Add the certainty that provides, to the economic stability the government is overseeing…

And you can see why Britain is now ranked number one in the Nabarro Infrastructure Index for attracting investment…

Which takes into account factors like credit and taxation and innovation.

I’m delighted that investors are realising this, and taking advantage of the opportunities it offers.

Today, a group of insurers…

Aviva, Friends Life, Legal & General, Prudential, Scottish Widows and Standard Life….

Have made a commitment to work with government and regulators…

And invest £25 billion in UK infrastructure over the next five years.

This was made possible because the government negotiated a successful outcome on Solvency II…

Which has put insurers in a strong position…

To make longer term investments.

I’m delighted that those companies have made that commitment…

It is a fantastic contribution to Britain’s economic future by some of Britain’s most impressive companies.

It represents a massive vote of confidence in the UK economy…

And it will play a key role in financing key projects.

It also serves as real evidence that if the government demonstrates a long term vision…

It will help us to secure long term funding…

Which will lead – in turn – to sustainable, strong, long term growth for our economy.

Today’s plan also sets out our intention to increase publically owned corporate asset sales from £10 billion to £20 billion by 2020…

Including exploring the sale of Eurostar.

While no final decision has been made, government shouldn’t own assets it doesn’t need…

And we should look at where these proceeds can be reinvested, including in Britain’s infrastructure.

So this document before you, builds on the long term commitment of taxpayers’ money that I set out in the Commons this June.

And it contains a series of new measures that will create opportunities for new jobs and for new growth across the UK.

Transport

Most of the value of the pipeline lies in our energy and transport sectors.

Transport is an area where a little investment from government…

Can go a long way towards bringing investment from elsewhere.

Take Kings Cross which Paul mentioned earlier.

We committed £500 million of public investment into its redevelopment…

Which attracted – in turn – over £2 billion from the private sector, and led to the complete regeneration of that part of London.

Between April and September this year we invested £15 million every day towards improving our rail network…

And we hope our investment will unlock private investment at some of those stations…

Like Manchester, Birmingham and Reading…

That are seeing the benefits of that money.

But we also have to keep looking at other stations where further investment could unleash growth.

Howard Davies – whose interim report is due to be published later this month…

Recently wrote to Government pointing out the importance of improving surface access to airports.

And we agree.

The current station at Gatwick hardly provides the best first impression of Britain.

And it sits on a key transport route, linking London to some of our great coastal towns.

So we’ve decided – subject to contributions from the airport itself – to provide £50 million to the cost of building a new rail station at Gatwick…

And to commission studies exploring rail and road improvements at both Heathrow and Stansted…

As well as the Brighton line.

This is good for those airports…

And the communities that surround them.

On our roads too – as we’ve seen – rapid progress is being made.

But across the country, there are still too many pinch points where it isn’t just traffic that’s being slowed down.

It’s growth too.

87 schemes have already been funded through our local pinch point fund…

But more work – and on a bigger scale – needs to be done.

At the A50 for example, where residents and businesses in the area face delays and congestion every day.

So today I’m adding it to our priority roads programme…

So we can work with Staffordshire Council, the LEP, and the Highways Agency to find a solution.

We’re also making progress on the other routes where we identified blockages in June.

We’ve started feasibility projects into a number of areas, including:

– the A1 from Newcastle to Scotland

– the A303

– the A27

– and the Trans-Pennines routes

And we’ll be publishing our plans for all those routes by this time next year.

As we develop those plans, we’ll do our best to keep the public as involved as possible…

Just as we did with our proposals for the A14, where we set out a consultation exploring the idea of a tolled section of road.

The A14 is a crucial link to the Haven ports – which are predicting a three-fold increase in throughput by 2030…

And improving the road could also support 10 000 new homes…

And a 22% increase in local jobs…

So we’ve listened to the consultation responses, and we’ve come to the decision that…

When this road goes ahead in three years time…

There will be no toll.

This will not lead to any delay in delivery…

And the cost will be covered by government.

But, as well as the economic benefits that our transport network brings…

We should remember that infrastructure can also add to the cultural life of our country, and our civic pride.

That’s why the government will be providing £30 million to help make the dream of a Garden Bridge over the Thames a reality.

Providing this investment will – I’m certain – help the Bridge’s Trust to secure private donations for the scheme…

And move us closer to the target of a 2017 opening.

And as well as building the bridges and the railways and the roads for the future…

I want us to build the cars of the future too.

This summer government committed £500 million of funds to support ULEVS.

Details of which will be set out soon…

And today’s National Infrastructure Plan puts £5 million towards promoting the use of ULEVs for all Government car fleets.

But there are other opportunities for Great Britain too.

At present, the main advances in driverless car technology are happening in California.

Apparently they’re making progress, but they’ve found that the cars only really work in sunny weather.

So the UK has something to offer here!

And the National Infrastructure Plan contains plans to put our country at the forefront of driverless car technology.

Digital

If we want to be world leaders in new technology though…

We’ll need to have the right digital networks in place to support those industries of the future.

Paul laid out our progress on making 95% of households superfast.

But we believe that everyone should have access to the opportunities the internet offers.

Especially with more and more of our lives and our jobs – perhaps even our democracy? – moving online

That’s why we’ve decided to open – as part of this update – a new £10 million competitive fund…

Which will market-test the kind of bold and inventive solutions that could deliver broadband to the most difficult to reach parts of the UK.

No area – no matter how remote – should be left behind.

Energy, the need for certainty, strike prices…..

Finally, the need for investment in our energy sector is enormous.

The energy measures we announced at the weekend will ease the burden of gas and electricity bills on hard pressed families over the next couple of years…

Without in any way undermining the support for investment in electricity generation.

But those lower bills will only be sustainable if we deliver that investment in newer and cleaner sources of electricity…

And this document updates you on our progress.

Back in June, I announced the draft prices the government will guarantee for those investing in renewable energy.

And this Plan updates and confirms the final prices we’ll pay.

It shows that the price we’re willing to pay for onshore wind and large scale solar farms has come down.

So we can drive every penny of efficiency…

And get consumers the best possible deal.

It shows that we’ve maintained the amount we’ll pay for converting coal stations to biomass.

And it also shows that we’ll increase what we pay for offshore wind in 2018-19.

We believe that this plan will mean delivering 10GW of offshore wind by 2020 is achievable – perhaps more if the prices come down.

This protects our commitment to green energy….

While ensuring we get the best value for money for consumers, and ensure the huge potential of offshore wind is fulfilled.

But it’s not just wind, wave and tidal power that are seeing the benefits of our policies.

Just twenty minutes ago…

In this very building…

I signed an agreement with Hitachi and Horizon…

Which commits us in principle…

To offering a guarantee for their Nuclear Power Station at Anglesey.

There is work to be done…

And putting the financing plan together will be a commitment from both sides.

But the agreement today shows that…

Just as we did with Hinkley…

This Government is prepared to give certainty to investors…

To help them make the financial decisions that are critical for our nation’s infrastructure.

The power station this agreement will support is set to create around 1,000 permanent jobs once complete…

With a peak workforce of over 5 000 during construction.

And – along with the other Guarantees agreed in principle…

It shows that the government is doing all it can:

– to secure a stable, certain environment for energy investment…

– to create jobs…

– and to ensure the UK plays its full part in tackling climate change.

Conclusion

As I see it, this plan is a blueprint for Britain…

From which we will literally build the foundations of our future prosperity.

I want to see everybody…

Be they politicians or investors…

Project managers or engineers…

Getting behind it.

And helping to deliver it.

It’s a plan that demonstrates a long term vision, for our energy and our transport and our digital networks…

It’s a plan that is helping to secure long term investment – as we’ve seen from the insurance sector…

And ultimately, it’s a plan that will lead to sustainable, strong long term growth.

And help us to build a stronger economy in a fairer society, where everyone can get on in life.

Thanks for listening.

Danny Alexander – 2013 Speech on Scottish Independence

Below is the text of the speech made by Danny Alexander, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, to the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Scotland on 5th November 2013.

 

dalexander

 

I’m very glad to be here with you this evening.

I must also say, I’m glad to have an excuse not to be in the Houses of Parliament on bonfire night.

It’s been 408 years, but you can’t take any chances!

Perhaps there aren’t yet fireworks in the UK economy, but we’re on the way back.

Not fully recovered, but we are seeing signs of recovery.

It has been a long, hard road.

And there’s a long way to go.

But – thanks to the hard work of businesses, the length and breadth of the UK – we are starting to see signs of a recovery.

Scotland is playing a key role in helping the UK economy to turn the corner.

Scottish business proving – once again – that Scotland is highly successful within the UK.

In 2012 Scotland had a higher economic output per head than Denmark, Finland and Portugal…

A higher employment rate than Finland, Ireland and Luxembourg…

And Edinburgh is one of the cities really leading the way…

With output per head at 165% the UK average.

Those successful cities and companies…

Really benefit from being part of a strongly integrated UK.

Where nearly two thirds of Scottish exports go to the rest of the UK.

And in capital…

With 84% of mortgages…

91% of pensions…

And 89% of ISAs…

Provided by Scottish firms to non-Scottish customers.

And – in return – 70% of Scottish pension holders…

And over half our mortgage owners…

Having bought products outside Scotland.

Those cities and those companies and those industries performing well…

Have been able to help our economy because of decisions taken by the UK government…

Our efforts to build a more competitive and fair tax system.

To tackle regulation.

To reform the planning system.

Obviously not in Scotland – that’s a matter for the Scottish Government.

To invest in our skills and infrastructure…

And – of course – every accountant will know the importance of balancing the books…

And the very tough decisions we’ve had to take to reduce Government spending…

And to deal with the deficit…

Have maintained the international credibility of the UK…

And shown that as a country we can pay our way in the world.

We’ve all worked so hard to create this recovery…

We must now work equally hard, to avoid putting it at risk.

And an obvious – and increasingly imminent – threat to our collective prosperity is the referendum on Scottish independence.

Those who propose independence would have us – Scotland – separate from the UK.

So after we’ve demonstrated the importance of strong UK-wide support to our financial sector…

…after we’ve seen the benefits and resilience of the strength of our currency, the UK pound…

…and just as we’re starting to witness a recovery that the government wants to see shared through the whole UK…

…we would walk away.

We have to make sure that the people of Scotland have access to all the information they need…

To make the right decision next September.

I want to pay tribute to ICAS, for their influential role in this debate…

And I’d like to thank you for engaging in the discussion…

Especially with your pensions paper…

Which provided a very important angle on a very important issue…

And really changed the terms of the debate.

As I’m sure many of you in this room will know…

The UK government have been publishing papers to inform the debate – like yours – throughout the year…

And our papers too, have highlighted some of the challenges and risks that independence would present, on issues like…

Security…

And defence…

And the success of the financial sector north of the border.

We’ve got further papers coming up.

But the issue I’d like to return to briefly this evening…

Is our study of the currency options in an independent Scotland.

Just to warn you the last time I spoke in public about this paper was a 40 minute lecture at the University of Stirling!

But I’ll try to be slightly more succinct here!

It’s not clear to me that a currency union would be in the interest of Scotland or the UK.

I look at this issue from 2 perspectives.

The first is as a passionate Scot who wants the best for the people of Scotland.

But I also look at this in a hard headed way as a Cabinet Minister in the UK’s economic and finance Ministry.

The lessons learned from the Eurozone have been clear.

That while such arrangements can appear successful in a period of stability and growth…

They can lead to brutal readjustments in times of economic stress and uncertainty.

No one should think that because we see the signs of recovery…

That we’ll forget the lessons of the crisis.

No one should assume that a strengthening UK economy increases the likelihood of a currency union between an independent Scotland and the continuing UK.

It doesn’t because the fundamental problems remain.

An independent Scotland would be very different to Scotland as it is today – fully integrated into the UK economy.

Just consider the disproportionate impact that a collapse in oil prices would have.

If markets sensed that monetary policy – set by the Bank of England – no longer suited Scotland’s circumstances…

They might start to doubt Scotland’s commitment to any such currency union.

Financial market speculation could lead to capital flight and higher interest rates…

And ultimately, if those markets weren’t calmed…

We could exit the currency union, adopt our own currency in a time of crisis.

Don’t think that wouldn’t or couldn’t happen to us…

It was only twenty years ago that we fell out of the ERM.

The euro area is moving towards greater political and fiscal integration in response to the crisis…

But – in the event of independence…

Rather than seeing greater integration…

Scotland and the continuing UK would be moving in the opposite direction…

Would this be a credible basis for a currency union?

So-called “sterlingisation” is what Montenegro does with the Euro.

Literally importing the currency of a foreign country – in this case the UK pound.

There are a very few examples where countries have made such an arrangement work…

The most famous is probably Panama, where they use the US dollar.

But any historians in the room will know what happened in the 1690s…

The last time Scotland looked towards Panama for its economic future.

More fundamentally, adopting another currency like this would be a mortal threat to Scotland’s financial services sector.

This isn’t a situation where we can be wise after the event.

Where people can realise the impact of their decision, and rescind their vote.

The referendum won’t be like a general election, where if you don’t like the government that’s been elected you’ll get another go in five years.

If Scotland leaves the UK there will be no going back.

It is absolutely clear to me that the only way for Scotland to keep the pound as it is now…

…is for Scotland to stay in the UK.

Anything else is wishful thinking at best.

As one of the Scottish members of the UK government…

Let me say this clearly.

It would be very foolish for anyone to vote for an independent Scotland, on the basis that they will get to keep the pound.

The truth is that a currency union may not be in the interests of either the continuing UK or of Scotland…

It is highly unlikely in practise that a currency union could be made to work…

And it is therefore highly unlikely that a currency union would be agreed.

Now, I plan on unashamedly using every opportunity I have over the next year…

Be they meetings or speeches or TV appearances…

Weddings, christenings, plane journeys – where you have a captive audience!

To talk about the issue of independence.

Because this is – quite simply – the biggest choice our country will ever take…

And as such we all have a responsibility to make sure that the Scottish people have as much access…

To the information…

And the arguments…

As possible.

So I thank you – again – for your influential involvement in the debate so far…

I hope that you will all remain involved in the debate…

As we move towards this huge decision.

And I’ll look forward to hearing all of your questions

And – no doubt – seeing you politely decline the seat next to me on flights!

Thank you.