with Alex Salmond, First Minister and MSP for Aberdeenshire East

INVESTING IN SCOTLAND

The recent 2013 Ernst & Young Attractiveness Survey on foreign direct investment (FDI) has shown that inward investment in Scotland is at a 15-year high.

This clearly demonstrates the considerable confidence that the global business community has in our economy and shows that Scotland is an attractive prospect for investors as we approach the independence referendum.

The report shows a 49 per cent increase in the number of projects coming to Scotland, flying in the face of previous scaremongering claims made by George Osborne that the referendum was deterring inward investment in Scotland.

Meanwhile, Alistair Darling has also been peddling the No campaign’s baseless scaremongering about investment in Scotland – and this report comprehensively debunks his assertions.

This report represents the reality. To quote from its contents, ‘There is no sign of investors being deterred from coming to Scotland; if anything, the reverse appears to be true.’

The survey describes Scotland’s performance in attracting inward investment as ‘sparkling’. It also finds that Scotland is continuing to “raise its game” and is “improving its competitive position within the UK” with Scotland ranked number one for inward investment projects outside London.

Scotland also has an underlying strength in manufacturing, with 31% of inward investment projects focused on our manufacturing skills, compared to 17% for the rest of the UK.

We clearly can’t believe a word the No campaign says about inward investment - which will lead many more people in Scotland to conclude that we can’t believe a word they say about anything.

POUND FOR PIPER

July 6, 2013, will mark 25 years since the Piper Alpha disaster – a tragic event which still affects families, communities and an entire industry to this day.

Last year two rig stewardesses heard in the media that the Piper Alpha memorial and gardens in Aberdeen’s Hazlehead Park had fallen into a state of disrepair and resolved to do something about it. Thus began ‘Pound for Piper’ – a very worthy charity with an important mission: to get everyone within the North Sea oil and gas sector to make a modest donation towards restoring the gardens.

Pound for Piper have achieved great things in little over a year with 11,000 roses bought and planted to ensure that the memorial gardens are in full bloom in time for commemorative events taking place on 6th July. The charity now has ambitions of raising £1 million, to ensure that the gardens are properly maintained for many years to come.

I was MP for Banff and Buchan at the time of the Piper Alpha Disaster almost 25 years ago. It is vitally important that we do not forget those who perished and continue to afford due respect to their memory and I commend Pound for Piper for their efforts.

I was delighted to take part in a Pound for Piper golf fundraiser organised by Stork Technical Services on 31st May. The event raised over £4,500 for the cause and gave all those taking part the opportunity to meet representatives from the charity. Pound for Piper’s ambitions for the future will, of course, require continued and committed support from the community and the industry, and I wish them the very best.

ABERDEENSHIRE: A PANTHEON OF QUALITY PRODUCE

The North East continues to outdo itself in producing amongst the finest quality food and drink to be found anywhere in the world.

At the recent Scotland Food and Drink Excellence Awards, held in Edinburgh’s Assembly Rooms, three businesses based in the constituency of Aberdeenshire East alone triumphed in their respective categories. This is a fantastic boost for each of these local businesses.

The quality of produce in the North East is good news for the region and the local economy, and key to Scotland’s fast-developing global reputation. The Scottish Government is committed to this end and recognises the importance of supporting this major sector, which is now worth £12.4 billion to Scotland’s economy. As part of our national food and drink policy, the Scottish Government is providing a £1.5 million Community Food Fund to promote local food tourism, farmers markets, food festivals and other community-based events.