Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

John Swinney blames UK Government for ‘obstacle’ around freeports plan

Aberdeen Harbour is one of the ports vying for freeport status.

Scotland’s deputy first minister says the SNP “fully engaged” with the UK Government’s freeports plan amid claims he is playing “political games”.

Talks collapsed between the two governments earlier this year over how to set up ports with the ability to defer tax until products are moved on.

Douglas Lumsden, Conservative MSP for the north-east, accused Mr Swinney of “playing petty politics with thousands of jobs”.

Interest has been shown from ports in Aberdeen, Peterhead, Cromarty Fith, Dundee and Grangemouth.

Freeport agenda

Speaking in the Holyrood chamber, the deputy first minister said the Scottish Government has “fully engaged with the UK Government’s freeport agenda”.

However he pointed to remarks made by Scottish Secretary Alister Jack on Monday when he told the Scottish Affairs Committee at Westminster that the governments “disagreed” over paying the real living wage at the sites.

The real living wage is voluntarily paid by almost 9,000 UK businesses who pay a wage related to living costs.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney
Deputy First Minister John Swinney blamed the UK Government for freeports “obstacle”.

Mr Swinney claimed the Tories are “only interested in perpetuating low pay”, as he criticised them for failing to commit to the payment of the higher wage.

The SNP-Green administration at Holyrood has said it wants to pursue its own “green ports” plan, after talks collapsed with UK counterparts.

SNP Trade Minister Ivan McKee had been moving to an agreement in the summer, but could not get the Scottish Secretary to adopt red-line requests, including around pay.

The deputy first minister told MSPs said a key obstacle is the real living wage.

“The Conservatives want to support a low-wage economy,” he claimed.

‘Political games’

Mr Lumsden urged the Scottish Government to “get back round the table with the UK Government for the benefit of ports like Aberdeen and Peterhead”.

A total of eight freeport locations have been selected across England, with the UK Government committed to establishing “at least one” each in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Mr Lumsden added: “Both Aberdeen and Peterhead have voiced strong support in wanting to be a part of the UK Government’s freeport development which will drive up investment and create jobs.

“But as always, John Swinney and the SNP want to turn their back on the north-east to suit their obsession with separation.

Douglas Lumsden has criticised John Swinney for playing “petty politics” over freeports plan.

“The transformative Teeside Freeport opened for business last month, creating 18,000 jobs while generating billions of pounds for the local economy and the same can be done with the north-east.

“Yet despite this, John Swinney chooses to play political games and is willing to cause harm to our region in the process.”

Real living wage

Speaking to the Scottish Affairs Committee on Monday, the Scottish Secretary said “where we disagreed is the real living wage” instead favouring the minimum wage.

He said the real living wage – which is voluntary – is not a legal requirement and is “not something that’s within our control”.

Mr Jack added: “The UK freeport model, we want it to be competitive in Scotland so it attracts the inward investment and it attracts the jobs so we don’t want to put it at a disadvantage which creating a higher wage structure would do.

“We want the freeports in Scotland to have the same terms and conditions as the freeports.”

Already a subscriber? Sign in



More from the Press and Journal Scottish politics team

More from the Press and Journal