union for life

East Lothian

East Lothian

Major employers

EDF Energy, various Scottish Government bodies, BT

  1. What will you do to increase investment and skill levels in the strategic industries, infrastructure and public services on which the UK’s security and prosperity depend?
  2. Will you commit to review the transmission charging system which actively distorts the energy market and means that parts of the UK are unable to attract inward generation investment?
  3.  Will you lift the arbitrary and unsustainable cap on public sector pay, guarantee that public service workers’ pay will at least keep pace with inflation in each year of the parliament, and commission an independent review of pay in the civil service and wider public sector?
  4. Will you provide the sector with the certainty and stability needed to deliver necessary investment by ruling out further interference in the legal and operational structure of BT and its subsidiary OpenReach?

Candidates' responses

Sheila Low (Conservative)

Some of the issues you raise fall between the competencies of the Scottish and UK governments. Primarily, I think it's therefore important that East Lothian has an MP who can make Scotland?s voice heard right at the heart of the next government and encourage both our governments to work together on these strategic issues.

It is important that we continue to reduce the deficit we inherited from the Labour Party as it is only when we stop spending more than we raise that we can start paying off our national debt. That does require some tough decisions. The public sector pay bill makes up over half of departmental resource spending, therefore continued pay restraint will have to remain central to the deficit reduction strategy. Public sector pay restraint has already helped protect thousands of jobs and frontline services and saved around £8 billion.

Nonetheless, as our manifesto makes clear, we will continue to invest significant sums of money into capital and infrastructure projects in Scotland. The Scottish Government has full discretion to use this funding, alongside that available through borrowing powers, on its own priorities. The UK Government?s industrial strategy has also placed Scotland at its heart and is designed to deliver a stronger economy that works for everyone – where wealth and opportunity are spread across every community in the United Kingdom.

A successful industrial strategy requires competitive and affordable energy costs. We want to make sure that the cost of energy in Britain is internationally competitive, both for businesses and households. In our manifesto, we have therefore pledged to commission an independent review into the Cost ofEnergy, which will be asked to make recommendations as to how we can ensure UK energy costs are as low as possible, while ensuring a reliable supply and allowing us to meet our 2050 carbon reduction objective. Our ambition is that the UK should have the lowest energy costs in Europe, both for households and businesses. So as we upgrade our energy infrastructure, we will do it in an affordable way, consistent with that ambition.

The Scottish Government is entirely responsible for education and skills in Scotland. Linking our educational system to business demand should be a key aim for government. The Apprenticeship Levy, for example, presented an opportunity for the Scottish Government to move towards a more flexible apprenticeship and skills framework in Scotland – one led by businesses themselves. We will keep making the case for all Apprenticeship Levy funding to be ring-fenced for in-work training only and for it to be used to gradually expand the number of apprenticeship starts, and the provision of bite-sized training opportunities.

I agree that the universal rollout of superfast broadband should be one of the key priorities of the next government. Following the intervention of Ofcom, Openreach will become a distinct company with its own staff and management, together with its own strategy and a legal purpose to serve all of its customers equally. Ofcom has been clear that through these changes, the new Openreach will have the greatest degree of independence from BT Group possible without incurring the delays and disruption - to industry, consumers and investment plans. This new model will be supported by careful, continual monitoring to ensure it is effective, which is in the interests of all consumers.

Martin Whitfield (Labour)

Response awaited

Elisabeth Wilson (Lib Dem)

Response awaited

George Kerevan (SNP)

What will you do to increase investment and skill levels in the strategic industries, infrastructure and public services on which the UK’s security and prosperity depend?

Completely agree we need to switch from consumption of imported goods to investment in manufacturing for exports, as the basis for our economy. SNP manifesto commits to increasing public spending by at least £118bn to accommodate fresh investment in infrastructure and reverse welfare cuts. In Parliament I have repeatedly challenged the Chancellor on lack of infrastructure investment and spending now rather than waiting for economy to slow after Brexit.

Will you commit to review the transmission charging system which actively distorts the energy market and means that parts of the UK are unable to attract inward generation investment?

Yes. Not just review but change to remove the charge on moving electricity south. This commitment is in the SNP manifesto. It is something I've already taken up in Parliament. This is a vital reform if we are to protect and defend the Scottish power industry.

Will you lift the arbitrary and unsustainable cap on public sector pay, guarantee that public service workers’ pay will at least keep pace with inflation in each year of the parliament, and commission an independent review of pay in the civil service and wider public sector?

Yes, absolutely. Is already in the SNP manifesto but regardless I will fight to remove the cap, in England as well as Scotland. Wages should rise with inflation and that should be guaranteed in the public sector.

Will you provide the sector with the certainty and stability needed to deliver necessary investment by ruling out further interference in the legal and operational structure of BT and its subsidiary OpenReach?

I disagree with the premise of the question. BT is a near monopoly that has often abused its monopoly power. I am in favour of removing OpenReach and making it a publicly owned utility in its own right.