GREEN PORTS in Scotland will not be competitive if they are required to pay the true living wage, the Secretary of State for Scotland said.
Alister Jack, speaking at a panel at the Conservative Party conference, said the Scottish government’s plans were deliberately intended to be different from the UK government’s, but would not be so successful.
He also accused the SNP of “irresponsible nationalism”, pointing out that officials had not participated in a transport review aimed at improving links between all parts of the UK.
There has been continued friction between Westminster and Holyrood over free ports – designated areas around ports that will have different tax structures than the rest of the country – as well as disagreements over plans to improve transport connectivity. between Scotland and the rest of the UK.
Mr Jack said that in England there were now eight free ports and that he wanted to do the same in Scotland.
He said: âWe have eight free ports advertised for England. I want to announce a free port for Scotland after a careful bidding process.
âYet the Scottish government wants to call them green ports and introduce other uncompetitive restrictions, such as making it a legal requirement to have real living wages, which is not set by the government. As you know, this is the real minimum wage.
Mr Jack spoke of a review conducted by Sir Peter Hendy on connectivity between different parts of the UK and strongly criticized the Scottish government’s lack of involvement in it.
He explained, âThese things are a challenge for us, and that is, is to be different for the sake of it.
âWe see with the connectivity of the Union, the report of Sir Peter Hendy. The Scottish government has been offered Â£ 20million to carry out feasibility studies to modernize the rail [and] road links in Scotland, and they rejected that money.
“So, like I say, it’s irresponsible nationalism, and not working with us, I think, just for the sake of being different.”
Mr Jack said that “60 percent of Scotland’s trade is with the rest of the UK” and millions of jobs depended on it, and asked why the Scottish government had not participated in the exam.
Sir Peter Hendy’s review was due to be released this summer, but has been delayed with final recommendations due to be released “soon”, according to No 10.
They were to include the feasibility of a fixed link connecting Scotland and Northern Ireland, dubbed the ‘Boris Bridge’, but last month it was announced that the plan had been scrapped entirely.
It was an ambition of the Prime Minister to build a bridge or tunnel between the two countries, despite continued skepticism from engineers and experts that it would be nearly impossible.
Last month, it was reported that Chancellor Rishi Sunak had put the brakes on the plans completely, due to sky-high costs.