Live Scotland Questions House of Commons

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Live Scotland Questions

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

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the recent budget to the European Union. Do not forget to join Alessio


McCarthy for a round-up at 11 o'clock tonight. First it is


questions to the Scottish Secretary, David Mundell.


The question is that the bill Rigby now considered. I think that the


Ayes have it, the Ayes have it. Questions to the Secretary of State


for Scotland. Antoinette Sandbach. Secretary of State for Scotland,


Secretary David Mundell. As the Prime Minister has said, at


the heart of the United Kingdom is the unity of our people, unity of


interests, Outlook and principles. This transcends politics and


institutions, the Constitution and the economy, it is about the values


that we share, our solidarity. I will never stop making the


passionate and positive case for our United Kingdom and look forward to


having the opportunity to do so during the forthcoming general


election. Antoinette Sandbach. While the Defence Secretary confirmed that


a ?1.7 billion investment in Scottish military bases, does my


right honourable friend agree that Scotland plays a crucial role in


defending my constituents in Eddisbury, the whole of the UK, from


growing threats at sea, in the air and Atlanta and that divisive


policies of the nationals threaten that crucial role?


I absolutely agree with my honourable friend, Scotland is on


the front line of defending the UK from these growing threats at sea,


in the air and online. It is the essential capabilities that we have


that help to do this and we have increased investment with better


infrastructure for our Armed Forces to help them keep the whole of the


UK say. Iain Murray. Given in the last quarter that this got this


economy contracted by zero point 2%, is it not time that we got of the


independents merry-go-round and the general election and got the Prime


Minister and the First Minister to both concentrate on what is


important and that is the economy of Scotland? Mr Speaker, I would give


the honourable gentleman more credibility with that statement and


he was not standing on the ticket of a leader who has said that he has no


problem with another independence referendum and clearly would do a


deal with the SNP to get the keys of Number Ten.


Will the Secretary of State confirm that Scotland's membership of the


single market of the UK is more important to Scotland than


membership of the single market of the European Union? Mr Speaker, my


honourable friend is correct and absolutely right to highlight that


the market for Scottish goods and services in the rest of the UK is


four times greater than the market in the EU, it is the vital union for


Scotland. Mr Speaker, in the last few years,


Ireland has leapfrogged the UK in terms of GDP growth. The oil fund is


920 billion. The equivalent figures for the UK are zero, zero and zero.


Does the Secretary of State not agree that Iceland and Ireland could


be matched by Scotland, what is he scared of? Mr Speaker, I well


remember when the SNP advocated the art of prosperity with Ireland,


Scotland and Iceland and I very, very much doubt that the people of


Scotland would want to endure the pain that the people of both Iceland


and Ireland have endured to ensure their economy is back on a stable


footing. Angus Robertson. At least all of us on this House can


agree that the greatest contribution from Scotland is to show that there


is actually an alternative and constructive policies to this UK


Tory government. It is worth remembering that in Scotland we have


free prescriptions, free eye tests and childcare, the university


tuition. We have scrapped bridge tolls, we opened railways, invested


in infrastructure, we are building more council houses than any UK


nation. That is what the SNP has delivered in government in Scotland.


Does he not agree that this stands in marked contrast to the Tory's


mismanagement and can -- disruption of public services south of the


border? Mr Speaker, what I see in my constituency is falling educational


standards, Scotland's once proud education system having the lowest


international ratings ever, what IT my constituents having increasing


waiting times for the health service and what I see them doing is dealing


with inadequate infrastructure. I do not believe that the SNP Government


in Scotland is focusing on the day job, they are focusing on their


independence obsession. Talking about doing the day job when you are


calling an early general election! Let us rest on a neutral observer,


not the research Officer of the Tory Party but the director of the


Institute of health and society and I quote his words, "Scotland is any


much stronger position than England with respect to both health social


care, the problem at the moment is that the English government is not


committed to a National Health Service." If this is not another


example that the real alternative to the Tory UK Government is the


Progressive policies of the SNP? Absolutely not, Mr Speaker, and I


look forward to debating these subjects over the next six weeks. I


think the Right honourable gentleman was very, very careful not to


mention education standards in Scotland. The latest international


figures demonstrate that education standards in Scotland are at their


lowest ever on record. I do not think that that is a proud record of


the Scottish Government and I look forward to holding it to account


over the next six weeks. Mr Speaker in our negotiations with


the EU we will seek the best deal for all parts of the UK.


The joint ministerial committee on EU negotiations was established to


facilitate engagement between the UK Government and devolved


administrations and has had regular substantive and constructive


discussions. I thank you for that answer. If he


is so keen and supportive of the JMC, why did they vote against the


statutory footing for the Brexit negotiations during the article for


the bill? Secondly, when was the last time a positive idea, I am sure


there are many from the devolved administrations, was taken on board


to form part of the Brexit negotiations to improve the exit


from the EU of the devolved nations? Mr Speaker, we have been very clear


that Scotland's place in Europe, a contribution of the Scottish


Government to the discussions, as has been constructive and its --


discussions from the Welsh Government and indeed from the


Northern Irish executive. We have set out many things that have formed


part of the White Paper, part of the Prime minister's speech and will be


part of the future discussions as we continue our negotiations over the


exit from the EU. This is not a really important issue about the


role played by machinery of government and helping hold together


the UK? Does my right honourable friend agree that a priority for the


new government should be to take a long, hard look at developing new


ways of working between ministers and civil servants across the


devolved administrations to strengthen our United Kingdom? Mr


Speaker, I absolutely agree with my right honourable friend. He has


considerable experience because despite what we here at these


questions, despite what we see in the media, actually, the UK


Government and devolved administrations are able on a range


of issues to work very closely and constructively together and that is


the element that we should be supporting and promoting. Pete


Wishart. Now is not the time is what the Prime Minister said to the


Scottish Parliament when Scotland wants to decide its own future with


Europe. But now is it time for the screeching U-turn in this


opportunistic general election. Do you also believe it is time for the


Scottish Government to reject this desire to drive Scotland over the


cliff edge for this hard Brexit? Mr Speaker, I acknowledge that the


honourable gentleman is an expert on screeching but what I would say to


him is that the proposal by the Prime Minister to have a general


election in six weeks' time to ensure certainty, clarity and


security for the period of the Brexit negotiations is quite


different from the proposal to have a disruptive referendum campaign


during the period of those negotiations.


Thank you, Mr Speaker. Common commercial policy is for the UK to


pursue as we leave the EU, for example, an animal health and food


safety, are as essential to Scotland as they are the Somerset. How can


the JMC help ensure that they will be adopted?


Mr Speaker, I would certainly hope that the JMC will be involved in the


discussion of the repatriation of important powers from the EU to the


Scottish Parliament and the other devolved administrations, I


recognise more than anyone how important it is to have common


animal welfare arrangements. The main livestock market for my


constituency is one mile south of the Scottish border in England.


Scotland voted to remain in the EU and the single market but the


Scottish Government's paper that would have kept Scotland in the


single market and the UK was roundly ignored by the Tory UK Government


intent on pursuing a reckless hard Brexit. Can the Secretary of State


for Scotland tell us what personal action he took to convince the Prime


Minister to take account of the views of the people of Scotland and


can you provide an explanation for why he failed? Mr Speaker, I have


been quite clear that the place of Scotland and Europe did play an


important part in the government's thinking and just so the heckler


opposite are clear, the government has formally responded to the


Scottish Government in relation to the place of Scotland and


surprisingly the Scottish Government asked us not to publish our


response. In his assessment of the effectiveness of the Joint


Ministerial Council, did he show my conclusion that actually it could be


more effective of all parties were focusing on building a strong UK


after Brexit, not pursuing separatist agendas? Absolutely, Mr


Speaker. As we head into what will be unprecedented peacetime


negotiations with the EU, it is vital that all parts of the United


Kingdom pulled together to take a Team UK approach and by doing so we


will get the best possible deal for Scotland and the whole of the UK.


Thank you, Mr Speaker. The JMC is supposed to be the platform for the


devolved administrations to have their voices not just heard what


responded to. The Secretary of State paint a rosy picture but the


Northern Ireland voice is not hurt, the Scottish boys is clearly being


ignored and the Welsh fuel at best less than impressed. When will this


government give this boy did it either needs, put in a statutory


footing to allow it to do its job properly -- Bourdy. The purpose of


the JMC is to bring together the UK Government and the devolved


administrations and to work together and vomiting our position as we go


forward in these negotiations. I very much regret the fact that the


Northern Ireland executive has not been able to be politically present


in recent times and that is something that we all want to see


brought to a conclusion, but these meetings have been robust and I


believe, certainly in terms of the actions that have flowed from them,


they have been constructive. An and you. With initial viral and


the questions for an age to get there. The UK and Scottish


Government continue to engage closely on the devolution of new tax


powers. The Scottish Government is now responsible was setting the


rates and threshold of income tax and it is incumbent of them to use


their powers to make Scotland an attractive place to live and work.


Thank you. Now that the Scottish Government is dot-mac has


unprecedented ballad to shake the economy of Scotland, will the call


on the SNP to solve economic growth rather than focusing on an


independence referendum? Mr Speaker, the shouts from the opposition


benches just highlight the complacency of the SNP in relation


to the Scottish economy. It is contracted by 2% in the fourth


quarter of 2016 compare to the UK economy which and grew by 7%. Now


the Scots can be proud of that comparison. Does my right old friend


agree that it is terrible that middle earners in Scotland are being


penalised by the Scottish Government, ?400 this year and up to


?1400 by 2021 compares to an England where we have higher tax threshold


to help hard-working families? By honourable friend is right to


highlight that point alone, while I might not like the plans to make


school on the highest taxed part of the UK, I do acknowledge it is a


matter for the Scottish Government. They will have to account for


themselves in relation to the taxation policies in the forthcoming


general election, that will highlight those issues. The average


band D council built in Scotland is almost ?400 although there than it


is in England. Will these discussions include how local


authorities in England provide local and national services while


maintaining the lowest council tax rates in the UK? -- will learn from


Scotland. The honourable lady may have spoken GPS NP press office, but


she certainly hasn't spoken to councils up and down Scotland who


are absolutely uniform in their negativity of the Scottish


Government's approach to the funding of local governments. Thank you very


much, Mr Speaker. As a last act of kindness and while he still has his


seat and his position, will he addressed the issue of closure of


the HM RC of this in my Livingston constituency threatening 1000 jobs


being moved to Edinburgh, cross-party politicians have written


to him, including his own party. He has ignored this. In his swansong,


will he come to Livingston and save those jobs? As the honourable lady


knows, I have set out clearly in correspondence with all of those who


have been in touch with me, the rationales for the move and the


change in the arrangements for HM RC. Many of which have been caused


by cross this house in terms of efficiency and effectiveness of HMRC


working. Nobody wants to see significant change in employment


patterns in their constituency. I commend your honourable lady for the


way she has pursued the issue. Mr Speaker, with your permission, I


will answer questions five and seven together. The UK governments's plan


for Britain seeks to help businesses across the UK to trade beyond Europe


and make Britain a leading advocate for free trade across the world.


Ministers have had meetings with several businesses across Scotland


since last summer's referendum and only last month, my honourable


friend, the Secretary of State for International Development was in


Glasgow to meet innovative Scottish businesses trading with the world. I


thank my honourable friend for that response. What steps is he taking to


support international trade and development in devolved nations? I


thank my honourable friend for that question. The Department for


International Trade is quite clear. We are a Department for the whole of


the United Kingdom. All of our services are accessible to companies


in Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland, including the


great campaign, including our cause, and we have had more of


investments coming into more parts of the United Kingdom are reviewed


recent months. Thank you. Good my honourable friend tell you how is


his view on the damage to Scottish business if Scotland left the United


Kingdom. -- Could. Well, my honourable friend has hit the nail


on the head. If Scotland were to leave the UK, the potential damage


to Scottish business and Scottish trade would be huge. The Scottish


Government's and figures showed that 64% of goods and services leaving


Scotland get into the UK, can purge to only 15% going to the rest of the


EU. 49.8 billion versus ?23 billion. Mr Speaker, Can the Minister tell us


what assessment he has made to the conservation of Scotland to the EU's


single market? I think the honourable gentleman is missing the


point. The point is surely the centrality and importance of the UK


single market. As we go forward from here. I will give him the figures


again. It is 49.8 billion going to the rest of the UK, only 12.3


billion going to the EU. It is clear that it is the union matters knows


the man that is the United Kingdom. The Secretary of State has


previously said he supports the European single market. They have


been part of that and it was clearly the best possible deal for Scotland.


I wonder if the Secretary of State determines constituents, will he now


stand on a manifesto to take Scotland out of that single market?


Well, the Prime Minister and the whole Government is absolutely clear


on this. Our objective is to secure a comprehensive free trade agreement


with the European Union as we leave the European Union. That will be any


better interests of all part of the UK, including Scotland. What


assessment has my honourable friend made of the opportunities for


increasing the export of whiskey across the world as part of a


free-trade agreement once we leave the European Union? The honourable


gentleman was acting at whiskey exports. That care the Minister. My


honourable friend raises a good point. Exports of whiskey reached


3.9 9,000,000,020 16. A big increase. Actually, Mr Speaker,


whiskey has been a part of quite a view of our trade missions, notably


the Secretary of State international trade and myself were in India, lead


to the Scotch Whisky Association and we have seen increased exports to


India. Mr Speaker, the former Prime Minister David Cameron promised he


would not resign if he lost the EU referendum. They renege on a promise


within Hallows. The current Prime Minister on seven occasions said she


would not call a general election. She renege on yesterday. Will you


renew a commitment given to ours on at least three occasions that,


whatever support is in place, businesses like Nissan, will be put


in place for Scotland? Mr Speaker, we have been absolutely clear that


our support for Nissan and indeed the rest of the automotive sector of


will be in during. That is the most important point and I'm sure it'll


be an important point of the general election campaign as they go forward


from there. I'm looking forward to the Conservatives being competitive


in the north-east in this coming general election and we look forward


to taking the fight to the official opposition there. The question was


whether he would we knew the promise given to Scotland to have the same


deal and, if you will, will you tell the people in the oil and gas supply


chain that the reports from the Robert Gordon University last week


that said Brexit would cost them ?200 million, that money will be


sorted, they will be looked after in the same way and this is prepared to


be, or will he make another promise? Mr Speaker, I'm glad he has raised


the question of oil and gas in Scotland.


CHEERING What I can say to him, Mr Speaker is


that I know he and I would agree that the one being that would be


most disastrous for the Scottish economy, including the oil and gas


sector, would be seeing Scottish separation leading to an overnight


budget deficit of around 9% of GDP. That would be a disaster. Mr


Speaker, with commission, I would -- permission, I will answer questions


nine, ten and 11 together. Cells from Scotland's US and UK with


nearly ?50 billion, a figure increased by a loss by 2002 and


values the export of Scotland to the EU. There is no doubt that the


United Kingdom is the vital union for Scotland. But my honourable


friend agree that the best deal for Scotland is to stay part of the


United Kingdom and to work with the UK governments to do all it can to


support a new free-trade agreement for the EU? Mr Speaker, I absolutely


agree with my honourable friend. Mr Speaker, the IMF predicted dire


consequences for the UK economy if we voted Brexit. They have raided


the growth yesterday for the second time in three months to 2%. Much of


the confident about the growth in UK economy is deserved by Alan


leadership of our Prime Minister. That they agree with me that when


people to buy British and the British as a quality mark... -- our.


Deeply obliged. Yes. Thank you, my constituents have a long and proud


to tradition in the textile industry, many of whom trade with


all part of the United Kingdom. How will these companies in my


constituency be helped by Scotland leaving the hugely successful UK


single market? Obviously, they won't. As the honourable gentleman


will now, in 2015, Scotland exported 49.8 billion to the rest of the UK.


Four times more than that which is exported to the EU and three times


greater than sales to the rest of the world. The benefits to Scotland


are full access to the UK market are Claire. Does my honourable friend


agree that Scottish representation in this Parliament must focus on


what benefits the whole of the UK single market. Absolutely. That is


why I can confirm to my honourable friend that when Bruce Davis and the


Scottish in-service care into the general election, it will be on the


bases of keeping Scotland because my United Kingdom. That when Bruce


Davidson. -- Ruth Davidson. 40% of exports go to the US where is only


63% go to the UK. Canada is a successful independent country. But


the Secretary of State agree that the inaction neighbouring countries


can have trading relations while maintaining sovereignty? Of course


countries can have close... Close trading relationships but what


Scotland benefits from being part of the United Kingdom is in their


barriers in trade, freedom of movement between Scotland and the


rest of the UK, that is good for Scottish business and she should


support it. Scottish exports of food and drink doubled in the past ten


years. James Withers, the chief executive Scott on food and drink


said he was afraid he consequences of leaving the European Union, not


having a trade deal and tariffs. Willie Secretary of State guarantee


the Scottish food and drink sector will not have to deal with that is


your tariffs? -- if you. Their greatest concern is that the SNP


would seek to drag Scotland out of the United Kingdom.


Will he be honest with their constituents and if you eat time, do


they support they in single market are evading with an MP who wants to


go with a damaging hard Brexit. What sizes and followed due when I can


get my constituency in the next general election is knowing exactly


what the position is on the EU. Arlene Foster taking Scotland back


into the EU are they not? I hope we will find out in the next six weeks.


Finally and briefly, Martin Doherty queues. The Tory strategy worked a


treat against the Liberal Democrats, the south-west of England at the


last general election. Is it the same strategy that the Secretary of


State will be urging his colleagues to export in the coming election to


Scotland? Group Davidson has already made it clear that her stands fully


to stand up for Scotland's membership of the United Kingdom and


against a device of second independence