Live Scotland Questions House of Commons


Live Scotland Questions

Live coverage of questions in the House of Commons to Scottish secretary David Mundell and his ministerial team.


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the day in both Houses of Parliament at 11.00pm. But first, questions to

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the Secretary of State for Scotland, David Mundell.

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THE SPEAKER: Order, order. Questions to the Secretary of State for

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Scotland. Number one, please.

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Mr, speaker, as this is the Scottish questions, that immediately proceed

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Burn's Night next Wednesday, 25th January, can I wish all those

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organising Burn's Suppers orreer esnrents Scotland, across the UK,

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including here in this House of Commons, and around the world, the

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very best. Robert Burn's legacy is as relevant today, as ever. Mr

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Speaker, the UK Government is committed to a safe and secure

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transfer of the remaining welfare powers. The majority of welfare

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powers commenced in 2016 and the transfer of the remaining powers

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will be overseen by the joint ministerial working group on

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welfare, which will meet again next month.

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Thank you, Mr Speaker. The Scotland Act gives the Scottish Government

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powers over benefits in Scotland. Does the Secretary of State agree

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that it is the Scottish Government that must now set out the detail of

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how they plan to use these powers to shape Scotland's welfare system?

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Mr Speakers my honourable friend is absolutely right. The power for the

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Scottish Parliament to create new benefits in devolved areas came into

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force in the autumn and they now have the power to shape that welfare

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system as they choose. Some modest Myers have already been -- some

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modest measures have already been announced but it is time that we

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hear more about the proposals for a new welfare system, a consultation

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has been held and I look forward to hearing the Scottish Government's

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response to that. Thank you, Mr Speaker, the fact that

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the UK Government planned to close half of the Glasgow Jobcentre,

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without even knowing the number of affected people, is a dereliction of

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duty. Will the Secretary of State commit to having a word with his

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Cabinet colleagues and getting these plans dropped?

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Mr Speaker, I do understand the concerns that have been raised in

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relation to Jobcentre closures in Glasgow and it is the Government's

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determination - and I have spoken directedly with my colleague the

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Secretary of State, to ensure that there will be no change to the level

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of service offered to the people of Glasgow. As the honourable lady and

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other members in Glasgow will know, there is a public consultation for

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people who have to travel more than three miles or more than 20 minutes

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in time. That's open until 31st January. I would encourage all those

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affected and all honourable members with constituents affected to take

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part in that consultation. Thank you, Mr Speaker. The transfer of

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signature powers over welfare decisions clearly raises compli died

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issues, as we have seen over the last few months. -- complicated

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issues. Could my right honourable friend update the house on the

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recent work of the joint ministerial working group on welfare and give

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his assessment of progress? Mr Speaker, the joint ministerial group

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on welfare has played a very important part in establishing the

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links between the DWP and the Scottish Government. I've been in

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regular recent contact with Angela Constance, the minister in the

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Scottish Government in relation to the Scottish Government's latest

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proposals in relation to Universal Credit. Inevitably, because of the

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complexity of this area, as the transfer takes place, new issues

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arise, which need to be dealt with and the joint ministerial working

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group is the ideal place to do that. Thank you very much, Mr Speaker, I'm

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sure the whole House will join me and send our condolence to the

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family of a man who passed away last week. He principles showed us when

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we work together, it is possible to do the impossible.

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It is estimated the people of Scotland lose out on 190 million a

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year as a result of allowances being taken away. If that wasn't enough, a

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year ago the Government did this guft withdrew the timetable of

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acknowledging the new one. So account Secretary of State inform

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the House and indeed the people of Scotland when can they expect to

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lose out on this ?190 million a year? Can I welcome the honourable

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gentlemen back. He was missed at our last Scottish questions, although

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his honourable friend, entertained the House, at least I think I can

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say that. In relation to Cannon Kenyon

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Wriegted. I knew him and he was a very principled man, with very, very

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strong personal conviction and obviously played a very important

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part in the constitutional convention which led to the

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establishment of the Scottish Parliament. As we have seen in the

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media, he is widely mourned N relation to disacted Ben fishgts the

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honourable gentlemen will know -- in relation to disability benefits. The

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honourable gentleman will know they'll be fully devolved to the

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Scottish Government. It was dealt with in the fiscal framework. It is

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now for the Scottish Government to come forward with their proposals

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for disability benefits in Scotland. Does my honourable friend agree with

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me that we need to hear less from the Scottish Government about the

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powers they want, and more about how they are going to use the powers we

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have given them. Hear, hear, hear. My honourable friend makes a very,

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relevant point. The honourable gentleman opposite referred to

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personal independence payments. I know that the Scottish Government

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are opposed to personal independence payments, but what I have no idea

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about, is what they intend to replace personal independence

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payments with, and what timetable they intend to do that. Thank you,

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Mr Speaker, may begin by joining colleagues and paying tribute to

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Cannon KenyonIng Wright, somebody who played a big role in helping to

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deliver devolution to Scotland and in 2014 supported a yes vote for

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Scottish independence. Mr Speaker, the UK Government is planning to

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close half of the job centres in the Glasgow without knowing the number

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of people that will be affected by such a radical change. Was the

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Secretary of State consulted in advance of the closures? And when

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did he show enough interest to find out which specific locations would

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face closure? Mr Speaker, I have taken a very close interest in this

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issue. And I have worked closely with both ply colleagues in the

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Department for Work and Pensions and the Scottish Government in that

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regard. The Government and myself have never suggested that the

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procedures followed in relation to this process had been perfect, but

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what we have - what we have put forward is a public consultation, in

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relation to those people affected, who have to travel more than three

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miles or 20 minutes and I encourage everyone involved to take part in

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that consultation. Mrnchts speaker, the devolution of powers hangs very

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much together with the hard Brexit plans of this Government -- Mr

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Speaker. The Secretary of State has said that his role s and I quote,

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"To ensure that Scotland gets the best possible deal and that deal

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clearly involves being part of the single market." Does he still

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believe this? Or has he changed his mind after being told what he should

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say by his Tory bosses in London? Thank you, Mr Speaker, I don't

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recognise the Prime Minister's speech yesterday as a hard Brexit.

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And I don't think, Mr Speaker, that the that the 500,000 SNP voters who

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voted for Brexit will take kindly to being referred to as "light-wing

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Tory Brexiteers." They were independently-minded people in

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Scotland for what they thought was the right thing for Scot lavenlted

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as is absolutely clear, the Prime Minister said yesterday, "We want to

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have access to the single market." And the that is what the quote he

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has just read out from me made clear. Membership of the single

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market, on the other hand, is a quite different thing, as Mike

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Russell and privately the Scottish Government accept.

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THE SPEAKER: Order. I say gently. Progress is far too slow. We need to

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Hayesen the pace. Some reduction in the decibel level, not least from

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the Chair of the international trade Select Committee will be welcome

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across the House. Question number 2, Mr Speaker. Mr

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Speaker, I regularly meet with Cabinet colleagues to discuss a wide

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range of matters. I recently met with the Secretary of State for The

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environment, food and rural affairs, to discuss a number of issues relate

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together Scottish agricultural sector and will continue to do so.

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Last year, the farming minister told us there would be an ?18 billion

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Brexit dividend and he said that farmers would continue to get "as

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much or perhaps even more support after Brexit." So, does the

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Secretary of State agree with me, it would be unacceptable if funding to

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Scottish agriculture was cut after 2020? Mr Speaker, there's no

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suggestion that funding to Scottish agriculture is going to be cut. What

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there is, is the opportunity to move forward from the constraints of the

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Common Agricultural Policy, which have been often complained about by

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farmers, throughout Scotland. And I believe that we need to seize this

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opportunity to reshape the support that we have for farming, to make it

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more effective, but to continue to sustain those areas of Scottish

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farming that need sustaining. My right honourable friend is aware

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that my family are extensive farmers in the Scottish Borders. Would he

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not agree with me, that Brexit presents the United Kingdom with a

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magnificent opportunity to fashion an agricultural policy, not required

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by French farmers, but required by British farmers, and will he assure

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the House that hill farmers in Scotland and elsewhere in the United

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Kingdom will be given proper consideration?

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I can absolutely give that undertaking. I hope we can move

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forward. I am working in conjunction with the Scottish Government to

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shape a new basis of support for Scottish agriculture, especially for

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those who farm in less favoured areas. There are multiple, and have

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been multiple, complaints about the operation of the Common Agricultural

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Policy and its need to take into account farming practices across the

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continent. We now have the opportunity to have our own a

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support mechanism and we need to work to shape it. Can the Secretary

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of State for Scotland confirmed what he said to the Sunday Times in

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November, but the Scottish Parliament working then you'd have

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full this possibility for agriculture and fisheries and, to

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quote him, but no powers will be really reserved to Westminster. Yes

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or no? Yes. Mr Speaker, almost two thirds of the agricultural experts

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from the UK are to the EU. We heard from the premise to yesterday, it is

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an increasing possibility we could revert to World Trade Organisation

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rules after exiting the EU. Does he agree with the NFU in Scotland to

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save the potential for 20% tariffs as a result of WTO rules will be

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damaging for the profitability of Scottish agriculture? Mr Speaker,

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what the Prime Minister made clear yesterday is that her objective is

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to achieve the best possible access to the single market, with the

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minimum of barriers and tariffs. That would be to the benefit of

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Scottish agriculture, Scottish farmers seek the opportunity that

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leaving the EU provides to them and I am assured they will seize them

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and I am sure we will be able to provide the environment in which

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they will succeed. The Scottish Government will take on its first

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major new tax power from the Scotland Act 2016 in April of this

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year, enabling it to set rates and thresholds of income tax. The Chief

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Secretary to the Treasury attended a joint meeting with the Scottish

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Cabinet Secretary for financing. They discussed ongoing work. We are

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deeply grateful but the minister was seeking to group this question with

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number four. My apologies Mr Speaker, with your permission, I

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would like to see to group this question with number four. Very

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good. As the premise to want to see income tax rates as low as possible

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for hard-working British people, should Nicola Sturgeon be

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sufficiently brave were bonkers to increase the rate of taxes on

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hard-working Scottish people, what economic impact would that have on

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Scotland? Can I thank the honourable member for his important question.

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In taking over income tax powers, the Scottish Government not need to

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account for how they use them, especially if they plan to make

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Scotland the highest tax part of the UK. Does my right honourable friend

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agree with me that the SNP plans to tax middle income families more in

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Scotland for doing the same job as farmers in England would bode very

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badly for the Scottish economy? The UK Government is doing everything it

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can to support our economy and boost jobs and growth. Quite the Scottish

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Government now make choices that have a different impact, they will

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need to explain it to the people of Scotland. We have heard again

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mistaken claims that Scotland is the highest tax part of the United

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Kingdom, when the average cost of a band D council tax property is lower

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than that in England. Will the Minister not welcome the Scottish

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Government's approach to council tax policy in Scotland? What I will say

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is that the SNP should focus on making a success of its new powers

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for the benefit of the Scottish people. You are a very curious

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denizen of the House, Mr Doherty Hughes, I had you down as an

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academic paper. You are becoming increasingly hysterical. Very

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curious behaviour. The SNP want to levy the highest level of income tax

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anywhere in the United Kingdom. They already receive more in per capita

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funding than England, yet the schools in Scotland are

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conspicuously worse. Compare that to those in the rest of the United

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Kingdom. Does the Minister put this down to the competence of the

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Scottish Government? Or the naturalist posturing over proper

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administration? -- National list. Mr Speaker, I may not like their plans

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to make Scotland a higher tax nation, but that is up to them. What

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they will have to do is explain to the people of Scotland wide they are

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having to pay more tax than their friends and families south of the

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border with the same jobs. In a week where the chairman of the British

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Medical Association in Scotland has warned that the NHS in Scotland is,

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and I could, at breaking point, is the Minister as surprised as I am

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that the so-called progressive SNP government consistently refused to

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use the powers afforded them to protect the NHS in Scotland? The new

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devilish and settlement for Scotland delivers one of the most powerful

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and the comfortable devolved parliaments in the world. Giving

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them unprecedented power to shape the future economy of Scotland. Mr

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Speaker, migrants from outside the UK and within the UK make a

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significant contribution to Scotland, to its economy, but also

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to its society and well-being. The government will always welcome the

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brightest and best to have come here to work. We know around 180,000 EU

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nationals make a hugely valuable contribution to discourage economy

:18:20.:18:23.

and we also note that countries like Canada and the stranger successfully

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apply different immigration rules to different parts of their countries.

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Going beyond warm words, will be Secretary of State listen to

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proposals for a different arrangement for Scotland, along EU

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citizens freedom to come and live and work there, benefiting us all? I

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will always look at evidence -based proposals that come forward. That is

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our commitment in relation to the Scottish Government paper produced

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just before Christmas. It was quite clear within the settlement agreed

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in the Smith commission that immigration would remain a reserved

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power. Would my right honourable friend not agree with me that one of

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the problems that Scotland will face with the SNP government is the

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flight of individuals fleeing the high taxes and therefore having to

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be replaced with more immigration is, as well as businesses moving to

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London, rather than Scotland? What I do find surprising is that the

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Scottish Government seem to always fail to acknowledge that they have

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very significant powers to attract people to come to Scotland. At the

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moment, about 4% of migrants who come to the United Kingdom go to

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Scotland. Clearly, there is more that needs to be done to encourage

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people to come to Scotland and the Scottish Government need to address

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that. Making Scotland the highest tax part of the UK is not, in my

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view, the way to do it. Can I associate myself and my party with

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the expressions of condolence with regards to the late Canon Wright. A

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truly lovely man for whom it was once my privilege to Act as the

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election agent, albeit unsuccessfully. Will the Secretary

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of State explain to the Home Secretary the importance of non-EU

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nationals to making up the cruiser for many fishing boat, operating out

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of Scottish ports? I certainly will take that issue forward for the

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right honourable gentleman. I am very aware of the concerns that have

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been raised and that would be more than happy to meet directly with

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them to discuss it further. Question six, Mr Speaker. The UK Government

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has spearheaded these dealers and they will be transformative for the

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cities of Scotland. The city regions are the engines of economic growth,

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so they will drive forward the Scottish economy, which means more

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jobs and a secure future. That is why I am pleased the government has

:21:08.:21:12.

committed to a City Deal for every Scottish city region. In the Autumn

:21:13.:21:20.

Statement, the Chancellor gave welcome support to City Deals. Can

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the Secretary of State assure me that he will be supporting the

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borderlands initiative as part of this programme? The borderlands

:21:28.:21:36.

initiative is a very innovative proposal which seeks to bring

:21:37.:21:42.

together the Dumfries and Galloway Council, Carlisle City Council and

:21:43.:21:47.

other councils in the north of England, recognising the significant

:21:48.:21:51.

economic area that crosses the border. I am delighted to give my

:21:52.:22:02.

support to that proposal. As well as City Deals, the Secretary of State

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has seen a report submitted by the Scottish Government. The Chief

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Secretary Bromley said it is for discussion of and to advance but

:22:15.:22:18.

didn't come what discussions has he had about supporting the growth

:22:19.:22:27.

deal? Mr Speaker, can I firstly welcome the fact that his colleague

:22:28.:22:37.

from North Ayrshire has secured an adjournment debate tomorrow in the

:22:38.:22:40.

cells which will specifically focus on that regional growth deal. I have

:22:41.:22:49.

obviously met with the councils and I want to see that these receive the

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support from the UK Government in a way that is most appropriate to make

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it happen. I am pleased to inform the House but I haven't been

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notified and the Marie has won his second round match in Belgium. --

:23:03.:23:13.

Andy Murray. I noted in congratulating Andy Murray that you

:23:14.:23:16.

did not display your usual exuberance which he demonstrated at

:23:17.:23:21.

the Davis Cup matches in support of him and the rest of the British

:23:22.:23:26.

team. Mr Speaker, the UK Government has taken a number of measures to

:23:27.:23:30.

support the Scottish economy. This includes committing to City Deals

:23:31.:23:35.

for each of the Scottish cities and providing an additional ?800 million

:23:36.:23:38.

for Scottish governments capital budget of three to 2021. Leaving the

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EU opens up opportunities for Scotland and we must remember that

:23:44.:23:47.

the UK market is worth over four times as much to Scotland as the EU

:23:48.:23:55.

single market. Adam Smith give us the theory of modern capitalist

:23:56.:23:59.

economics, William Gladstone put them into practice, wouldn't these

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two fine Scotsman be delighted with the opportunity that Brexit offers

:24:04.:24:07.

to ditch the socialist protectionism of the Scottish Government and

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implement free trade and free markets that made it such a

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powerhouse in the 19th century? Mr Speaker, right honourable friend as

:24:18.:24:21.

ever makes a robust case with the benefits of moving the European

:24:22.:24:26.

Union, but perhaps, to his list of posthumous Lake piloted figures from

:24:27.:24:31.

Scottish history I could add David Hume, whose essay of the balance of

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trade predates the wealth of Nations and provides the effect rebuttal to

:24:36.:24:41.

the so-called jealous fear of free trade in merchants at the time. My

:24:42.:24:50.

heart breaks outside the single market, Scotland could lose 80,000

:24:51.:24:53.

jobs over a decade and cost people an average of ?2000 in wages. Can be

:24:54.:24:58.

Secretary of State tells what action he will personally take to keep

:24:59.:25:01.

Scotland in a single market, even if the rest of the UK leads? It is

:25:02.:25:10.

absolutely clear that Scotland cannot be a member of the single

:25:11.:25:15.

market if it is not a member of the EU and the United Kingdom will not

:25:16.:25:22.

be a member of the EU. The Scottish Government accept that proposition.

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What is important is the access to the single market and as my right

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honourable friend, the Prime Minister, said yesterday, we end to

:25:30.:25:34.

achieve the best possible access to that market. As might right

:25:35.:25:39.

honourable friend considered the effect on the Scottish economy is a

:25:40.:25:42.

further independence referendum is held? Mr Speaker, might right

:25:43.:25:51.

honourable friend may be aware that today, in relation to Labour market

:25:52.:25:55.

statistics, and employment is up in Scotland, employment is down and

:25:56.:25:59.

economic activity is down. I am in no doubt that uncertainty caused by

:26:00.:26:05.

the constant reference to an independence referendum is having an

:26:06.:26:14.

impact on the Scottish economy. An important part of the Scottish

:26:15.:26:19.

economy is the rural economy. Yesterday I asked the deaf Secretary

:26:20.:26:22.

of State after careful thinking and planning what exactly would be

:26:23.:26:27.

happening to this after 2020. She said there would be no cuts to

:26:28.:26:32.

funding, will this be the case? We will see no cuts to agricultural

:26:33.:26:38.

support in Scotland after 2020, will he confirm? The honourable gentleman

:26:39.:26:43.

has already had the answer that question and also set out that

:26:44.:26:49.

leaving the Common Agricultural Policy is an opportunity. The Common

:26:50.:26:54.

Agricultural Policy is not suited Scotland, especially those forming

:26:55.:26:58.

in less favoured areas. We now have an opportunity to do something

:26:59.:27:03.

different and we should seize it. Questions to the Prime Minister.

:27:04.:27:13.

Number one Mr Speaker. Thank you. This morning I had meetings

:27:14.:27:15.

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