Westminster Notes

15/10/2012,  TSPL, Scotsman Publications, Scotsman, Scottish Independence referendum, The  Edinburgh Agreement which was signed today by Prime Minister David Cameron and First Minister Alex Salmond at St Andrew's House, Edinburgh today. Prime Minister David Cameron leaves with Scottish Secretary Michael Moore after signing the agreement Picture Ian Rutherford
15/10/2012, TSPL, Scotsman Publications, Scotsman, Scottish Independence referendum, The Edinburgh Agreement which was signed today by Prime Minister David Cameron and First Minister Alex Salmond at St Andrew's House, Edinburgh today. Prime Minister David Cameron leaves with Scottish Secretary Michael Moore after signing the agreement Picture Ian Rutherford

The Chancellor of the Exchequer has announced that he will give his annual Autumn Statement to Parliament on December 5.

The statement provides an opportunity to hear an update on the government’s plans for the economy based on the latest forecasts from the Office for Budget Responsibility.

The statement usually gives a strong steer on spending and tax plans which will be introduced in the following year’s Budget.

I hope that the Chancellor uses the Autumn Statement to re-affirm this Government’s commitment to building a stronger economy and a fairer society.

We have to continue to make the tax and welfare system fairer, by supporting people and by doing our best to keep costs down for households and business.

As an example, the Government has already raised the income tax threshold so people keep the first £10,000 of their wages free from income tax.

Also earlier this year, the Chancellor cancelled the fuel duty increase that was planned for September 1, 2013, which has been vital to supporting motorists and businesses in rural areas like the Borders.

My top priority as local MP in the Autumn Statement discussions will be to continue arguing for further investment for job creation, campaigning for faster and more reliable broadband to come to the Borders quicker, and supporting our thriving manufacturing sectors.

After months of build up there is huge interest and expectation about what will be in the SNP’s White Paper for an independent Scotland.

As I write this article (the day before the White Paper is published), it is clear that plenty of voters are intrigued by the prospect, too.

The following weeks will see a clear test of the paper’s credibility; we need to hear the nationalists’ case made straightforwardly, distinguishing between what would be under an independent country’s control and what would be subject to serious negotiation, not just assertion, with the rest of the United Kingdom and our international partners.

As the Secretary of State for Scotland, I was determined that we would make the case for the union by sticking firmly to the reality of what leaving the UK would mean for Scotland. What it would mean for our currency, our economy and our place in the world.

I wanted to set out what Scotland has achieved as part of the UK and what we can continue to achieve together in the future.

Only in the calm after hullabaloo Tuesday, will we know how serious the Nationalists are about the quality of the ‘great debate’ and the big question about Scotland’s future.