In Parliament today: MSP David Stewart raises the importance of Highlands & Islands Enterprise and reaches for Trade Minister’s agreement its budget should be safeguarded instead of cut

NORTH politician David Stewart extolled the virtues of Highlands & Islands Enterprise in Holyrood’s Debating Chamber today – and said it was crucial its budget is spared from further cuts.

MSP David Stewart asked Scotland’s Minister for Trade, Investment and Innovation Ivan McKee to recognise the “first-class work” being done by Lifescan and the Centre for Health Science in Inverness, and in particular the focus that is being made on diabetes research and development.

The Labour politician then asked the minister to join him in congratulating Highlands & Islands Enterprise for the work they do, such as the ODx Innovations medical technology company in Inverness – and he reached for the minister’s agreement that its budget be maintained and not cut.

Mr Stewart also raised questions around what was being done to attract inward investment, retain jobs and upskill training and development.

The minister said he shared Mr Stewart’s appreciation of the “great work of Highlands & Islands Enterprise”, and he said he recognised the “great work of Lifescan and the whole cluster of work that is developing in the Inverness area around life sciences and medical devices – which is hugely welcome”.

He insisted “a lot of effort” was going on to attract inward investment and pointed to a new foreign investment plan being launched in the next few weeks saying it “identifies very clearly a strategic approach and the key sectors that we want to focus on to try to attract inward investment”.

He added: “I can let the member know that it’s no secret life sciences is one of the key sectors that we will be very much focussing on to attract global investment into Scotland.”