Live Scotland Questions House of Commons

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


the Secretary of State for Scotland, David Mundell.


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


Scotland. Number one, please.


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


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


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


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


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


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


transfer of the remaining welfare powers. The majority of welfare


powers commenced in 2016 and the transfer of the remaining powers


will be overseen by the joint ministerial working group on


welfare, which will meet again next month.


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


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


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


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


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


Scottish Parliament to create new benefits in devolved areas came into


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Cabinet colleagues and getting these plans dropped?


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


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


determination - and I have spoken directedly with my colleague the


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


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


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


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


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


affected and all honourable members with constituents affected to take


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


signature powers over welfare decisions clearly raises compli died


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


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


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


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


on welfare has played a very important part in establishing the


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


regular recent contact with Angela Constance, the minister in the


Scottish Government in relation to the Scottish Government's latest


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


year ago the Government did this guft withdrew the timetable of


acknowledging the new one. So account Secretary of State inform


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


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


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


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


say that. In relation to Cannon Kenyon


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


strong personal conviction and obviously played a very important


part in the constitutional convention which led to the


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


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


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


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


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


now for the Scottish Government to come forward with their proposals


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


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


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


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


relevant point. The honourable gentleman opposite referred to


personal independence payments. I know that the Scottish Government


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


about, is what they intend to replace personal independence


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Department for Work and Pensions and the Scottish Government in that


regard. The Government and myself have never suggested that the


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Tory Brexiteers." They were independently-minded people in


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


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


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


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


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


Russell and privately the Scottish Government accept.


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


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


the Chair of the international trade Select Committee will be welcome


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


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


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


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


together Scottish agricultural sector and will continue to do so.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Common Agricultural Policy, which have been often complained about by


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


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


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


farming that need sustaining. My right honourable friend is aware


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


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


magnificent opportunity to fashion an agricultural policy, not required


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


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


Kingdom will be given proper consideration?


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


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


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


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


been multiple, complaints about the operation of the Common Agricultural


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


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


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


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


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


full this possibility for agriculture and fisheries and, to


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


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


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


an increasing possibility we could revert to World Trade Organisation


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


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


damaging for the profitability of Scottish agriculture? Mr Speaker,


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


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


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


Scottish agriculture, Scottish farmers seek the opportunity that


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


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


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


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


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


Secretary to the Treasury attended a joint meeting with the Scottish


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


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


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


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


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


for hard-working British people, should Nicola Sturgeon be


sufficiently brave were bonkers to increase the rate of taxes on


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


academic paper. You are becoming increasingly hysterical. Very


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


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


funding than England, yet the schools in Scotland are


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


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


Scottish Government? Or the naturalist posturing over proper


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


that the so-called progressive SNP government consistently refused to


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


devilish and settlement for Scotland delivers one of the most powerful


and the comfortable devolved parliaments in the world. Giving


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


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


significant contribution to Scotland, to its economy, but also


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


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


nationals make a hugely valuable contribution to discourage economy


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


apply different immigration rules to different parts of their countries.


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


proposals for a different arrangement for Scotland, along EU


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


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


our commitment in relation to the Scottish Government paper produced


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


in the Smith commission that immigration would remain a reserved


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


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


flight of individuals fleeing the high taxes and therefore having to


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


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


Scottish Government seem to always fail to acknowledge that they have


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


election agent, albeit unsuccessfully. Will the Secretary


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


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


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


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


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


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


has spearheaded these dealers and they will be transformative for the


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


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


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


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


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


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


borderlands initiative as part of this programme? The borderlands


initiative is a very innovative proposal which seeks to bring


together the Dumfries and Galloway Council, Carlisle City Council and


other councils in the north of England, recognising the significant


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


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


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


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


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


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


from North Ayrshire has secured an adjournment debate tomorrow in the


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


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


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


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


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


Andy Murray. I noted in congratulating Andy Murray that you


did not display your usual exuberance which he demonstrated at


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


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


support the Scottish economy. This includes committing to City Deals


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


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


EU opens up opportunities for Scotland and we must remember that


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


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


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


two fine Scotsman be delighted with the opportunity that Brexit offers


to ditch the socialist protectionism of the Scottish Government and


implement free trade and free markets that made it such a


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


absolutely clear that Scotland cannot be a member of the single


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


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


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


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


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


honourable friend considered the effect on the Scottish economy is a


further independence referendum is held? Mr Speaker, might right


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


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


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


the constant reference to an independence referendum is having an


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


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


of State after careful thinking and planning what exactly would be


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


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


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


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


leaving the Common Agricultural Policy is an opportunity. The Common


Agricultural Policy is not suited Scotland, especially those forming


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


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


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


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