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George Osborne: Scotland needs an economic recovery that lasts

Scotland needs an economic recovery that lasts and creates real jobs. The next British Conservative Government will deliver that.

We are hugely optimistic about Scotland's future prosperity.

We will not repeat the mistakes of the last ten years. Labour built the Scottish economy on shifting sands of huge debts and an unsustainable banking boom.

Now we live with the consequences. Almost 200,000 Scots are unemployed - and a further 250,000 are on out of work benefits. Thanks to Gordon Brown's failed system of regulation, Scotland's once proud banking industry is in intensive care. Business investment is lacking. Labour has failed Scotland.

This is how British Conservatives will deliver the lasting recovery Scotland deserves.

First, we will get Scotland working. The message should go out loud and clear that Scotland is open for business, open for investment and open for people who want to create jobs.

Any new Scottish business set up in the first two years of a British Conservative Government will pay no tax on the first ten jobs it creates. This will create thousands of new jobs in Scotland. 

And for existing businesses, we will dramatically simplify the business tax system and cut the tax rate so that they too are encouraged to create jobs.

Scottish Conservatives are also developing devolved plans to support training, create real apprenticeships and get more help more quickly to the unemployed in Scotland.

Second, we will deal decisively with Labour's debt crisis. Gordon Brown has tripled the national debt and given Britain the biggest budget deficit of any major economy. That threatens the recovery. For higher debts will mean higher long term interest rates and higher job losses. 

Conservatives have been honest about the hard choices that need to be made by whoever wins the General Election. Anyone who tells you Britain can go on spending without limit is not telling you the truth. We are all in this together. Gordon Brown will soon be spending more on paying the interest on our national debt than we spend defending our country. Scotland deserves a better and more honest government.

Third, we must fix the broken banking system. Twelve years of a Labour government has seen Scotland's historic and proud banking system put on life support. The Bank of Scotland and the Royal Bank of Scotland were strong, independent institutions - now they are in intensive care. Meanwhile many Scottish businesses cannot get access to banking services at a reasonable price. Indeed figures out today show that the flow of net lending to UK businesses remained negative in August.

The credit crunch continues for them and is costing jobs.

The blame for that should be shared between failed management and a failed Labour Government. As the Governor of the Bank of England said, "an inadequately designed regulatory system" fuelled the financial firestorm. Well ask yourself a simple question: who designed the regulatory system? Who was Chancellor for ten years while the problems developed? Gordon Brown. 

I thought Mervyn King made a strong and persuasive speech in Edinburgh this week. I also thought it was extraordinary that Alistair Darling and the Prime Minister dismissed it out of hand. We now know that there will never be real reform needed to create a strong Scottish banking system while they remain in office. They are the roadblock to reform.

It is a British Conservative Government that will make Scottish banking strong and proud again. We will replace the failed regulatory regime with one that works and has the Bank of England in charge. 

I can tell you that Amanda Harvie, the former Chief Executive of Scottish Financial Enterprise and former head of the Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce, has this week joined the advisory group that will help the next Conservative Government implement these reforms. For we understand financial services are not just important to the City of London. 

We will also use the government's shareholding in Britain's banks as a lever to create more competition in banking and create more, smaller banks. That will bring clear benefits to Scotland which has paid a heavy price for the over-consolidation of our banking industry. And we will take action on unacceptable bankers' pay and protect taxpayers from the riskiest of banking activities. 

I think there is a case for separating risky proprietary trading from retail deposit taking - an argument Mervyn King advanced with force this week.

This argument needs to be put back at the centre of the international reform agenda.

The result of Conservative reforms will be a strong, sustainable Scottish banking system that serves the people of Scotland and the whole UK.

At the forthcoming British general election there is a chance to vote for a complete change of direction.   The only choice facing Scottish voters is five more years of a failed and weak Labour Government or a new, strong and united Conservative Government under David Cameron

The choice is between sticking with Labour's economy built on debt and unemployment or the Conservative plan to create a Scottish economy built on real saving and lasting investment in real jobs.

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