Liberal Democrat Secretary of State for Scotland, Michael Moore MP, writes a regular column for newspapers in his Borders Constituency. Here is the latest edition.
First of all I want to say a huge congratulations to Andy Murray for winning Wimbledon last weekend – the first British man to do so since 1936. It was a fantastic match and as Scots and Brits we can be extremely proud of his achievement.
Queen’s visit to Abbotsford
It was a great honour to attend the official re-opening of Abbotsford, the home of Sir Walter Scott, by Her Majesty the Queen last week after its multi-million pound restoration. I have been working closely with the Abbotsford Trust for many years and it was fantastic to see the house in all its glory alongside the new visitors’ centre.
I have no doubt that the opening of the house will provide a boost to Borders tourism and I want to congratulate the chief executive of the Abbotsford Trust, Jason Dyer, the trustees and everyone else in the team for all their hard work, dedication and commitment in bringing the project to completion. It was a brilliant day to celebrate the completion of the project as well as the life and works of the great Sir Walter Scott which are now open and available for all to enjoy.
The UK’s Territorial Army plays a vitally important role in our defence forces so I was pleased by the Government’s announcement last week that the 6 SCOTS Territorial Army facility in Galashiels is to be protected under the Army 2020 review. The ‘Reserves in the Future Force 2020: valuable and valued’ White Paper sets out Government plans to sustain and grow our Reserve Forces and it is certainly good news for the Galashiels unit that, as part of this, they will be able to continue to provide local people with the opportunity to serve in the reserves.
The paper also outlines a new, better deal for army reservists with £1.8 billion committed by the Government over ten years. This will fund improved training, hundreds of pounds of financial incentives to employers and a £42 million package of new kit for Reservists to put them on a par with Regular forces. These changes will offer Borders Reservists more training, kit and opportunities, while providing better support for their families and employers.
As the size of the Army Reserve force in Scotland is increased from 2,200 to 3,700, the Army will also be launching a new recruitment drive in Scotland and I want to encourage Borderers to consider serving their country in this way by getting involved in the newly-styled Army Reserve.
Last week the UK Government launched the fourth of in our series of Scotland Analysis papers which are looking at the implications of Scottish independence in various policy areas. The paper on business clearly shows that it is better for businesses here in the Borders and Scotland if we remain part of the UK. This is because we benefit from the UK single market which enables them to trade freely into England, Wales and Northern Ireland. On the other hand, independence would put costly barriers between us such as different tax, employment and regulatory systems. These would be especially costly to small and medium sized businesses which are the mainstay of our economy here in the Borders. This paper provides further evidence that we are better together and ahead of the referendum in 2014 I will be campaigning passionately for us to remain in the UK.
* Michael Moore was the Liberal Democrat MP for Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk from 1997-2015 and Secretary of State for Scotland from 2010-2013.