Scotland politics

John Swinney warns chancellor 'don't do down Scotland'

Amazon distribution centre, Scotland
Image caption Mr Swinney hailed investment from firms such as Amazon

Scotland's finance secretary has said he will not accept UK Chancellor George Osborne "talking down Scotland".

John Swinney was speaking after Mr Osborne claimed the uncertainty of a future independence referendum was damaging the Scottish economy.

The SNP minister said he was happy to have an evidence-based debate, but there was no evidence coming from the coalition government.

He admitted Scotland's growth was slow, but not as slow as the rest of the UK.

In an interview with BBC Radio Scotland's Good Morning Scotland programme, Mr Swinney said the SNP government had made it clear it would not hold a referendum on independence until the latter part of its five-year term.

He added that in the meantime, under a devolved administration, he was doing all in his power to promote Scotland as "a place to do business".

In an interview for the BBC's Politics Show, Mr Osborne said he believed the instability and uncertainty surrounding an independence referendum was "damaging investment in Scotland".

He said: "There are major businesses around the world who have asked me as chancellor in the last year 'tell us what is going on in Scotland - we're worried about making an investment in that country'.

"I have told them go ahead with the investment, but I have to say those questions are being asked, and I think it is having a direct impact on Scottish jobs and Scottish prosperity."

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionJohn Swinney: "I won't have George Osborne talking down Scotland."

Labour's Willie Bain said he agreed with Tory Mr Osborne.

The Glasgow North East MP said of his political opponent: "Even I have to admit that on this issue he [George Osborne] has a point when speaking to people in the financial services community, as I have done in the last fortnight.

"They do indicate, in the privacy of their company boardrooms, very searching questions asking a lot about the stability of the Scottish financial system."

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionWillie Bain: "Even I have to admit that on this issue he [George Osborne] has a point."

Mr Swinney said the chancellor and Mr Bain's assessments were "absolute nonsense".

He said a "number of powerful global companies", including Taco, Dell, Amazon and Mitsubishi, were investing in Scotland.

Mr Swinney said: "The evidence points directly against it [damaging Scotland].

"There is a very long list of companies that are investing in Scotland, that are interested in investing Scotland, and the type of success rate of the Scottish government and our enterprise agencies in securing employment and growth in Scotland demonstrate that what the chancellor and Mr Bain are talking about is absolute nonsense."

Financial powers

He added: "I won't have George Osborne talking down Scotland."

Mr Swinney said he could do much more if Scotland had the full range of economic and financial powers.

The finance secretary was speaking following the Bank of Scotland's latest Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) which suggested a second successive monthly drop in new business orders.

The bank said a marked fall in demand for manufactured goods lay behind the latest decline. However, service providers saw a modest pick-up in new business.

Mr Swinney responded by saying: "I accept that growth has slowed, but the growth position in Scotland is better than the rest of the UK. We have a stronger employment position, lower unemployment and a lower level of economic inactivity."

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites