04/11/2015 Scottish Questions


Highlights of Scottish Questions from Westminster.

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Hello and welcome to a slightly damp Westminster for November's Scottish


Questions. Plans to give the Scottish parliament extra powers are


occupying the thoughts of MPs as plans to restrict the role of


Scottish at Westminster. Proceedings began with a question about energy


and specifically the planning regulations surrounding wind in


Scotland. Questions to the Secretary of State for Scotland. Before I and


Sir can I come end you not just on your attendance at the Davis cup


semifinal in Glasgow but for the enthusiasm with which you got behind


Team GB in that mum enters that -- great win? I am sure you will join


me in wishing the team the best. Glasgow is a great sporting city.


After that we get onto a question about wind farms. ... New onshore


wind developments in England. Planning for onshore wind is


devolved to the Scottish Parliament and the Scottish Government have


kept that power to themselves. I would ask them to look closely at


this government's policy of an of audible energy mix that protects our


landscapes. I shall be there in person I hope to support the team.


True devolution means that power should rest as closely as possible


to the people. In Scotland, will Wales and Northern Ireland. Does he


deplore the policies of the current Scottish and with governments who


seemed to think they no better than the people and the communities of


Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales? I agree. The current Scottish


government is one of the most centralising governments on record.


Routinely overruling the wishes of local people and local authorities.


We are delivering devolution to Scotland. Let us see devolution


delivered within Scotland. As Lord Smith recommended. He will be aware


of the case of the park in my constituency that has the support of


the local community and the developers worked diligently to


secure planning permission from Perth Kinross Council. Despite


this the development is threatened by the aggressive approach of


government has taken on energy, putting local jobs at risk. Would he


agree to look again at this case, which has been penalised I it's


responsible approach to community engagement around planning issues? I


am always happy to look at individual cases raised by members


from Scotland and I will be delighted to meet with her and hear


more about the case that she is setting out. With he agree that the


Scottish parliament could learn a lot from the devolution debate


within England? Would he encourage the Scottish Parliament to devolve


more responsibilities and powers to local government, which may even


include elected mayors in the great cities of Scotland? I agree and the


response of SNP MPs says it all. They know best, they no better than


local bebop. Let us see local decision making. Let us see Lord


Smith's recommendation about devolution within Scotland ordered


by the Scottish Government. In addition to this question there is


question after question on the order paper questioning the powers of the


Scottish Parliament. The truth is they have missed the A waiting


time for six years. More they have missed the A waiting


children leave primary school unable to read properly.


children leave primary school unable families get a particularly bad deal


under devolution. families get a particularly bad deal


Labour MP for Dudley North. What is required is to hear from the SNP and


the Scottish Government how they will use these parliaments. They the


fair arguments about process and do not want to tell us what they are


going to do and do not follow that through with action.


going to do and do not follow that a vote on... Genuinely I am trying


to be helpful to members but can I urge members to look at the terms of


the question on the paper? It is very specifically about onshore wind


planning. We must move on. This is about the role of Revenue and


Customs in Scotland. HMRC will be making face-to-face announcements to


all staff explaining why my kids future officers will be. The largest


employer in Cumbernauld, good quality jobs are in danger because


of debt management and proposed office mergers. What is he going to


do to be take the jobs of hard-working employees and the local


economies of towns such as Cumbernauld?


HMRC will be making an announcement in the next few days in terms of its


long-term plan that it seeks to find savings in terms of its property


costs which is right to ensure that that money can be used to improve


customer service and get the taxes in. Question three. A question on


the work of the Smith commission. Amendments that strengthen the bill


and look forward to returning to the house for debate next week. This


represents another milestone in making the Scottish Parliament


Parliament one of the most powerful in the world. The Smith commission


identified that Scotland's budget should be no larger or smaller as a


result of the initial transfer of new powers and recommended the


Scottish and UK governments work together to agree a fiscal and


funding framework for Scotland. Can you reassure my constituents that


this framework will be in place so that Scotland's funding is not


adversely affected? Yes. Would he agree that rather than relying on


subsidies from London the Scottish Government should use its


tax-raising powers to pay for the services provided to the Babel of


Scotland? I do not recognise his description of the Barnett formula


which of course will remain in place, but the reality is that the


Scottish parliament will have significant powers over tax,


welfare, and it is about time the SNP told us what they are going to


do with them. It is interesting the Secretary of State did not take the


opportunity to condemn the views of his Conservative colleagues who


believe that Scotland is subsidised. Only 9% of people in Scotland


believe the vote has been delivered so once prising Labour government is


having belatedly to accept amendments. The financial framework


for casual. He was only to be able to give one wide and so, so will he


elaborates and tell us exactly when the UK Government will update this


Parliament on the progress that has been made on the fiscal framework? I


am sorry that he did not read my written ministerial statement that


was launched in the House on Monday which updated the House on the


progress of the fiscal framework. What I recognise in relation to his


comments are these words from the Daily Record editorial. Moan, moan,


winge, winge. A cynic might argue that the SNP do not actually want


those now powers because it makes them accountable to the people of


Scotland. The Secretary of State for Scotland has had a second


opportunity to condemn the views from his own backbenchers that


Scotland is subsidised. I challenge him in this reply to come to the


dispatch box and its associate himself with the views of his


colleagues. If his government is bringing in detrimental measures


that will impact on families and individuals not just in Scotland but


the length and breadth of the UK. Can he give us some detail on what


is going on between the Treasury and the Scottish Government and give an


assurance that there will be no detrimental implications for people


in Scotland as part of the fiscal framework? Not only does he not read


written ministerial statements, he did not even listen to my answer to


my colleague. He did not listen to the answer to my colleagues, so


perhaps he can read it. The reality is the powers that are being


delivered to the Scottish parliament will make it the most powerful


devolved parliament in the world. Rather than tell us what they will


do with those powers it is grievance and grudge. We'll tax credits, which


the Scottish parliament themselves like knowledge can be topped up,


will they be topped up by the FNP, yes or no? -- SNP. Can I take this


opportunity to be tribute to our armed forces? For the sacrifice for


this country. UK ministers have said the fiscal framework negotiations


would be concluded this autumn. Can he explain why they have been


delayed until January at the earliest? As I set out in my written


ministerial statement, the position is that the UK Government is


proceeding at the moment towards the comprehensive spending review, which


I am sure you accept there is a major task, and shortly thereafter


the Scottish Government will proceed with the Scottish draft budget. When


I met with the Deputy First Minister John Swinney last week he gave me


the confidence that he wants to reach a fiscal framework agreement


and that is certainly the position of the United Kingdom government and


that is why I was able to answer the lady from Hamilton east as I did.


Scotland's First Minister has warned that the SNP government may reject


the Scotland bill if the accompanying fiscal framework is not


there to Scotland. They are looking for any excuse to delay further


powers for Scotland. Can he assure that how is that the fiscal


framework will be agreed before the Scottish Parliament is dissolved in


March and can he explain why both he and the SNP are conspiring to make


this agreement the Tartan delivered behind closed doors with no public


transparency? What are they trying to hide? As he knows, a statement


has been published after each meeting of the joint exchequer


committee. I take John Swinney and the Scottish Government at face


value that they want to reach their agreement for Scotland. UK


Government wants to reach for agreement for Scotland. It is an all


other interests and I am confident that be achieved.


With permission, I will answer question for and 11 at the same


time. I have regular discussions with John Swinney and our officials


are in close contact on provisions in the Scotland Bill. I have tabled


changes to strengthen the bill. Having failed technology the


question for my right honourable friend two times already, does the


Secretary of State now disassociates himself from the comments from his


colleague, suggesting Scotland is subsidised? The fiscal framework


will allow the Scottish Government the flexibility to pursue separate


fiscal policies from the damaging policies progressed by this UK


Government, ensuring the highest levels of transparency. Will he


provide the house with a timetable for draft fiscal framework? The


comments that were made in the written ministerial statement on


Monday set out that the fiscal framework agreement is likely to


come after the Comprehensive Spending Review and the draft


Scottish budget has been completed. This is the fourth opportunity now


for the Secretary of State to disassociate himself with those


comments about Scotland being subsidy junkies. Will he do so? Will


he also confirmed the negotiations around the fiscal framework are


happening between the Treasury and the Scottish Government, and he is


relying on a Scottish lord to advise those negotiations? Will he confirm


that? It is obviously clear that the Scottish National Party don't listen


to answers. If they read Hansard, they will see the response I gave to


my colleague. In relation to the fiscal framework, it is an


agreement. Who is negotiating on behalf of the Scottish Government?


John Swinney, the Deputy First Minister. From the comments of SNP


members, they don't have much confidence in his ability to reach a


fair deal for Scotland. At the weekend, the leader of the Scottish


Labour Party announced that a future Scottish Labour government would use


the powers of the Scotland Bill to compensate people for money they


will lose because of the Tory cuts to tax credits. I'm sure the


Secretary of State will not like to see that happen, but can he confirm


the new powers contained in the Scotland Bill will give the Scottish


Parliament the ability to top up tax credit? She has the guts to say she


will put up taxes and tax credits -- she does not have. The SNP has said


nothing. They want an argument about process instead of telling us what


they are going to do with these important new powers. Ministers have


had discussions with the leader of the house over English votes on the


implementation. These are sensible and pragmatic steps which do nothing


against Scottish MPs ability to represent their constituents. Is he


as concerned as I am that the Barnett, is angels which affect all


three devolved nations are not clearly spilled out in the new EV


ELN arrangements. Will he take this fifth opportunity to explain what is


happening with the fiscal compact -- EVEL arrangements. The leader of the


house challenged honourable members to provide examples where the rugby


difficulty -- where there would be difficulties, yet none were


submitted. As the procedure committee is planning to hold an


enquiry on the manner in which this house deals with this issue, can I


urge my honourable friend to defer having any discussions with Cabinet


colleagues until the report is to hand? The government will look


closely at what the procedures committee has to save. And in terms


of reforms on the estimates process, which is ultimately a


matter for the house. This is a question about the health service.


The Scottish Government is responsible for the NHS in Scotland.


It is up to them regarding how best to spend their funding. The UK


Government is happy to share good practice with the Scottish


Government to help ensure the people Scotland receive high-quality health


care. I thank the minister for that answer. Has he seen the recent audit


Scotland report which shows the Scottish Government has failed to


pass on health spending increases, resulting in a 0.7% real terms


health spending reduction in Scotland between 2009 and 2015? I


have seen that report. He is right to bring that to the attention of


the house. The reality is that a Conservative government has shown


more commitment to public spending on the NHS in England than an SNP


led government has done in Scotland. We now have English votes for


English laws on issues such as health in England? Is it not time


for a Scottish ministers to answer Scottish Questions in this house? I


noticed the honourable gentleman raises the issues of English votes


for English laws and get very worked up about it, but can I remind him of


what he said a year ago, and issue the Scottish people could not care


less about. That does not seem to be his approach any more. This is a


specific question about anti-Semitism in Scotland. Recorded


incidents in Scotland are thankfully low. I am not complacent. Tackling


anti-Semitism was right to the heart of what we stand for as a country.


Whatever our politics and faith, we must look to defeat it. 15 Scottish


MPs attended an all-party group on anti-Semitism last week. With the


goodwill that clearly exists, will the minister topped with the


Scottish Government about how the system of state funded security in


Jewish schools in England could be emulated in Glasgow? I certainly


well and I'm happy to do so. I should say to him that despite the


many robust exchanges we have in this chamber, all MPs from Scotland


are united in our view that we cannot tolerate anti-Semitism. The


Secretary of State will be aware that I represent Scotland's largest


Jewish community in East Renfrewshire. I was pleased to hear


of the good intercommunity relations and positive support from the police


in my area. Will the Secretary of State join me in applauding our


Jewish communities for the work they do against discrimination? I


absolutely do. I commend her on her engagement with that important


Jewish community in Scotland. I commend the work of the Scottish


Government in that regard. This is a matter on which we are all united,


supporting Jewish communities and not accepting anti-Semitism. This is


another question reflecting the Scotland Bill. The UK Government is


delivering the cross-party Smith agreement in full, giving the


Scottish Government substantial new powers over tax and spending. The


devolution of powers should be accompanied by a fiscal framework.


The UK and Scottish governments are discussing this. I'm going to offer


the Secretary of State six opportunity to disassociate from the


subsidy claims from his own party in this chamber. Will he do so? Does he


agree with me that the Treasury's eight meant for funding policy over


the years has been a creaking mess? Will he recommit to a more open and


transparent process as he refused to do repeatedly? There is a process.


It involves UK Treasury ministers in negotiations with the Scottish


Government. We are continuing to work on that process. We will update


the house when there is further news. This is a question about


abortion in Scotland. The issue needs to be handled sensitively


between the governments. I wrote to interested parties. As I have


confirmed already, there will be ongoing engagement with women's


groups as this matter is taken forward. We believe that a woman's


right to choose should be universal. Does the Secretary of


State envisage any change in abortion law in Scotland? Mr


Speaker, I think it would be helpful if I just confirmed that because


abortion law is being devolved does not mean there will be any change.


The existing arrangements will continue to apply in Scotland are


changed by the Scottish Parliament. I am pleased to note the First


Minister of Scotland has confirmed she has no plans at all to change


existing abortion law in Scotland. Can I urge the minister to think


again about the devolution of abortion to Scotland? This is to


have smaller jurisdictions making decisions so sensitive on health


care is deeply unwise. It will allow those who want to lobby against the


interests of health care to undermine the interests of women,


both in Scotland and in England. I would urge him to consult far more


widely before he makes this very big step. I recognise of course the


concern is the honourable lady shots, but the Scottish Parliament


already has responsibility for criminal justice and health issues,


and has dealt with some very sensitive issues extremely well in


my view. I have spoken to women's groups in Scotland and they believe


that the devolution can take place, but they want to be consulted about


that and they will be. Have not forgotten the honourable gentleman.


I never do. Mark Menzies. B this is a question about access to


university education. The most recent UCAS statistics show a record


year for university entry for disadvantaged students domiciled in


England. 18.2% compared to 13% in 2009. Unfortunately the situation in


Scotland is not as good. Only 10% of the poorest 20% of Scots attend


university, very concerning. As someone who went to university from


a working-class background, I am deeply concerned about how Scotland


is now lagging behind England. Working-class per people are losing


out. It may sound strange, an English Tory elected to a Scottish


university, but as a former honorary president of Stirling University, an


outstanding university, I share his concerns and the Scottish Government


could do a great deal of learning from the experience of the English


university system. That is all we have time for. Let me remind you


about the next Scottish Questions on Wednesday 16 December. That will be


the final one of 2015. We will see if there is any pre-Christmas cheer


by then. Join us then if you can. For now, from all of us at


Westminster, goodbye. The knives are sharpened and the heat


is on. It can only mean one thing. Britain's best chefs


are back in town. They're here because they want


this title. I'm really excited. MasterChef: The Professionals


starts cooking...


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