Freeports. Six Requirements for Scottish Freeports.

Freeports: Six Requirements

Last month we talked to our guests in Orkney about the way in which the UK Government is setting up Freeports in UK, including two here in Scotland. The Scottish Government has proposals of its own on the way in which any freeports based in Scotland will be established. You can watch that interview here: Freeports – A Good Thing? Or a Pirate’s Dream Come True

The Debate on Freeports

We thought we’d give you the opportunity to listen to the debate on freeports which took place at the 2021 SNP party Conference. Twelve branches, groups and individuals proposed the motion. And one branch proposed an amendment to the motion, You can read the full motion and amendment here (it’s Motion 14 on page22/23) Here is the conference debate as it happened followed by details of the written motion, the amendment, the resulting vote, and what happened next!

Details of the Motion & Amendment

The proposers are not in favour of Freeports as is pretty clear from the first half of the motion:

Conference is concerned that the Freeport proposals by the UK Government are a part of the agenda to undermine devolution.

Conference also recognises that, historically, Freeports have been a haven for criminality, such as money laundering and people trafficking. They also allow those operating within them to erode workers’ pay and conditions.

Conference further agrees that local government is under-resourced at present, and as such further burdening it with Freeport requirements cannot be sustained without significant investment.

The only way a Freeport should be operated is with consideration for the entire community in which it is sited and is fair and just to all; and with correctly staffed controls by all relevant agencies –not just in the immediate vicinity, but across the wider geographical area.

from Motion 14, SNP Conference 2021

Six Requirements for Scottish Freeports:

But recognising that UK Government will go ahead whatever Scottish Government thinks, they go on to set out six requirements for the establishment and operation of freeports in Scotland.

To that end:
1 All businesses operating within the zone must pay the Real Living Wage as a minimum, as well as abiding by Fair Work practices.
2 Trade Union Recognition must be mandatory.
3 Local Government must receive sufficient financial investment to carry out any required services to these zones.
4 All businesses operating within the Freeport zone must be operating to assist the Scottish Government in achieving its ambitious Net Zero targets.
5 Local Communities adversely affected by the operation of the Freeport must be fully compensated by those businesses operating within it.
6 All relevant controls by relevant agencies must be in place – i.e. Health and Safety, environmental controls, law enforcement, etc.

Conference agrees therefore that without the six requirements set out above in their entirety, Freeports should not be established or permitted within Scotland.

from Motion 14, SNP Conference 2021

Amendment to the Motion:

The amendment stated:

Add the following at the end:
“Conference also recognises the determination of the Scottish Government to introduce a GreenPorts alternative which are focussed on a Net Zero approach, creating sustainable economic development and maintaining fair and just working conditions; recommends that any GreenPort initiative sits within a revised and ambitious Maritime Strategy for Scotland targeted at attracting new investment in the maritime sector and to help internationalise our thinking on trade, exports and NetZero shipping opportunities”

Amendment to Motion 14, SNP Conference 2021

The Vote!

The Amendment failed by 158 votes in favour to 359 votes against.
The Motion passed overwhelmingly by 476 votes in favour and 16 votes against.

What Happened Next?

What happened next is well documented by Peter Henderson, the lead proposer of Motion 14. We’ll be summarising his response in our next blog post.

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