06/01/2016 Scottish Questions


Highlights of Scottish Questions from Westminster.

Similar Content

Browse content similar to 06/01/2016. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!



Hello and welcome to a somewhat springlike Westminster. It is


shaping up to be a busy political year already. The possibility of a


referendum on Britain's place within the European Union could happen this


year. No shortage of topics for MPs to get their teeth into. As far as


Scottish MPs are concerned, one issue, to do with the financial


arrangements surrounding more devolution to Scotland, the


so-called fiscal framework, is looming large. And it played a large


part at Scottish questions. Here is how proceedings got under way.


Question number one, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, can I begin by wishing you


a very happy New Year? And in light of the recent flooding in Scotland,


can I also pay tribute to all those in the emergency services and local


authorities and volunteers who have dealt with these challenging


circumstances, and to say that the thoughts of the whole House will be


with those who have had their homes and businesses flooded. With


permission, Mr Speaker, I will answer questions one, two, five and


ten together. The UK and Scottish governance are discussing the fiscal


framework through the Joint Exchequer Committee. There have been


five meetings between the Deputy First Minister and the Chief


Secretary to the Treasury. Next is due to take place Friday. I thank


him for that answer. I associate with what he says about the


flooding. My constituency has been affected and was an appreciative of


the work being done by the emergency services. The block grant will need


to be adjusted to take account of revenue raising powers being


devolved. As by the Swiss Smith Commission, the Scottish Government


should not be financing disadvantages as a result of the


transfer of the new powers. Will he give us his views as to what would


be a fair indexation of the block grant adjustment? Mr Speaker, my


understanding is that the Deputy First Minister of Scotland, John


Swinney, who I had a very productive meeting with just before Christmas,


is actually conducting these negotiations on behalf of the


Scottish Government just and Mr Swinney at my meeting assured me


that his object was exactly the same as that of the United Kingdom


government, a settlement which is fair to Scotland and fair to the


whole of the United Kingdom. This is also a question on the so-called


fiscal framework. It will ensure that Scotland is no worse off


financially as a result of the transfer of powers. Does the


minister agree with the cross-party view and that of various others that


only the model of indexed deduction per capita would adequately deliver


the principle of no detriment? What I have said, Mr Speaker, in my


previous answer, is that we are involved in an ongoing negotiation.


Mr Swinney is conducting that negotiation. I have got tremendous


respect for Mr Swinney and his ability to reach a fair settlement


for Scotland. I have got tremendous respect for the chief secretary to


reach a fair settlement for the rest of the United Kingdom. I am


confident on the basis of the discussions which took place,


including my own discussions with the Deputy First Minister, those


involving the Prime Minister and the First Minister, as well as the


meeting which is due to take place on Friday, that we will be able to


achieve the first settlement. A good New Year to you, Mr Speaker. I think


many people will find it bizarre and unacceptable that the Secretary of


State for Scotland is not even attending the negotiations. Can the


Right Honourable gentleman explained why his office of Secretary of State


seems to have been deemed irrelevant to these critical negotiations? And


given he is not directly involved, can he share his personal view of


whether he agrees with the learning professors on the preferred model?


Mr Speaker, I think what many people in Scotland will find bizarre, at a


session in Parliament which is called Scottish questions, that the


Scottish National Party could come up with only one question Veljko


clearly they were all told to ask! But Mr Speaker, I know it may


impinge on the self-importance which some SNP MPs a tribute to


themselves, but it is the Deputy First Minister of Scotland, John


Swinney, who is negotiating the agreement, not SNP MPs! The model of


indexed adjustment for the block grant may result in the Scottish


block grant falling substantially without consideration of the


different rates of population growth north and south of the border. Does


the minister agree with me that this or any other model of block grant


adjustment which results in a diminished Scottish budget year on


year will not fulfil the Smith mission's principle of no detriment?


Mr Speaker, I am disappointed with the honourable gentleman's analysis.


Because the new powers, which are being delivered by the Scotland


bill, Kate the opportunity for Scotland's economic growth to


increase, for Scotland's population to increase. I am very surprised


that he has such a negative view of the use of those powers that it


would be impossible to increase the population or the economic growth in


Scotland and therefore increase tax take. Thank you, Mr Speaker. Does my


right honourable friend agree that with the transfer of the new,


extensive powers which my right honourable friend has just agreed


will be given to the Scottish Parliament, it will far once put the


SNP government truly to be accountable to the Scottish people,


and that this talk of a second referendum is just a smoke screen to


take away their accountability to the Scottish people? Conservative MP


for Leicestershire south. I actually agree with my honourable friend, the


impression created again today, Mr Speaker, by the SNP, is that they


are entirely driven by process arguments, not about hitting on with


getting an agreement on the fiscal framework, about getting the new


powers in place and then doing something positive for the people of


Scotland with those powers. Thank you, Mr Speaker. Can my right


honourable friend confirm that once the fiscal framework has been


agreed, the devolution of tax powers to the Scottish Parliament can "Lee


Wallace the Conservative MP. Mr Speaker, I am absolutely committed


to delivering the powers set out in Scotland bill once it becomes an act


of Parliament as quickly as possible. We want to see that act on


the statute books ahead of the Scottish Parliament election so it


can shake those elections and the parties can set out what they intend


to do with the powers. And I would like to see the tax powers in place


by April 2017. The success of the fiscal framework is absolutely vital


to the future success of the tax powers which have been devolved.


Confidence in the framework is vital for individuals and businesses,


especially in the border region. Does the minister believe the


Scottish Government is approaching these discussions in good faith,


which will be fair to people on both sides of the border? I absolutely


am, Mr Speaker. From the discussions, which are Nicola


Sturgeon, the First Minister of Scotland, had with the Prime


Minister, from those I have had with the dippy First Minister, and we


have to remember that stays in the people who are determining what will


be agreed in relation to the fiscal framework, their view is clear, and


I take it as Cynthia, that they want to achieve a fiscal framework


agreement within the near future, and that we can move forward with


enacting the bill and transferring those powers, which can make such a


difference to the people of Scotland.


The Smith Commission recommended that the cost of establishing the


infrastructure for the collection of taxes should be cost borne by the UK


Government. The Secretary of State for Scotland confirm that the UK


Government accepts those recommendations? What I can confirm


to the honourable gentleman is that gas is one of the items which is


part of the discussion between the UK Government and the Scottish


governance. But Mr Speaker, it is rising that SNP MPs have such little


confidence in Mr Swinney and the Scottish Government in the


negotiations, to hold out for positions which would be benefit all


for Scotland! I find it staggering! I wonder if the Secretary of State


agrees with the First Minister, with the Professor and with the test EU


see, that more powers for Scotland and not come at any price. That the


fiscal framework must deliver fairness for Scotland. Can he give a


date by which that agreement must be reached? I absolutely agree that the


arrangements must be fair. Fair to Scotland, third just to the rest of


the United Kingdom. I think that that is perfectly achievable. The


negotiations and discussions which have taken place, whilst not


providing a running commentary, have been productive. I think the


comments made by Mr Swinney for example to the finance committee in


the Scottish Parliament, where he clearly said that the Scottish


Government should benefit from the positive decisions they take but


accept the consequences of bad policy decisions, is one which I am


absolutely in agreement with. And that should apply to the UK


Government, too, in relation to our responsible at ease. May I wish you,


Mr Speaker, and all the staff of the House of Commons a happy New Year?


You would have thought the pantomime season was over, but judging by


today's questions, it clearly isn't. There is no shortage of things which


could be... Oh, yes it certainly is. I was expecting that, Mr Speaker,


from someone who has got no jokes whatsoever. There is no shortage of


things that we could be gritting the government on. The Secretary of


State has created this sham I keeping the fiscal framework secret.


The Finance Secretary who is negotiating this... The people of


Scotland are being kept in the dark. will the Secretary of State, and I


have asked this before, but an end to this pantomime of manufactured


grievance and be completely transparent about the fiscal


framework? Mr Speaker, the government is completely transparent


about its position in relation to the fiscal framework. We want it


agreed as soon as possible. We want it to be scrutinised by both


parliaments. When I was in the Scottish Parliament recently I have


the opportunity to meet with Bruce Crawford, the convener of the


devolution committee. He has assured me that he is satisfied that in


connection with the finance committee in the Scottish


Parliament, there will be adequate opportunity to scrutinise the fiscal


framework. I am clear that there will be an opportunity in the other


place to scrutinise it. And the Scottish affairs select committee is


currently conducting an inquiry. I don't think the people of Scotland


will be in the dark in any way about the fiscal framework and I think it


will achieve what we wanted to achieve but it will also be subject


to proper scrutiny. I don't think the Secretary of State understands


the process and how important it is. The Scotland bill constitutes the


biggest transfer of powers ever to Scotland. But the underpinning


provisions are being hidden from the Scottish people. I have written to


both governments to try and get transparency and the response from


both governments has been no. Meanwhile the Scottish covenant are


threatening to veto the bill. Whilst these negotiations are being


conducted in secret, both governments can blame each other


with manufactured grievance, and it is the people of Scotland who will


lose out. So can the Secretary of State at least assure us that in


future, negotiations as important as this on Scotland's finances are


conducted with greater transparency and greater democratic scrutiny?


I have no grievance because I am confident that the Scottish


Government want to achieve an agreement, the UK Government wants


to achieve an agreement based on fairness to Scotland, and the rest


of the UK. Well I given an absolute commitment? As agreed, it will be


adding full Parliamentary seat scrutiny in the Scottish Parliament


and in Westminster. This is a question about defence


installations. Mr Speaker, may I start by adding to your comment just


now introducing question number three by congratulating my


honourable friend for the recognition he received last week


for 30 years service to this House and the people of Norfolk. It's a


great pleasure he had that recognition last week. In response


to this question, the MoD engages with the Scottish Government about


defence establishments and matters at many levels official and


ministerial. The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for


Scotland, met the Cabinet Secretary for infrastructure, investment on


the 17th of November to discuss the issue and the defence Minister has


met the Scottish Government Cabinet secretary twice previously and the


Defence Secretary has agreed to meet the Scottish Government Cabinet


secretary soon. Can I thank him for his generosity. Given that Faslane


will sustain the largest employment site in Scotland, isn't it clear


that Scotland is the biggest beneficiary? Surely this makes the


stance on Trident even more perverse and damaging? Here's quite right


that this Government we are investing very significantly in


defence in Scotland and, following the SDS are, not only will we be


spending ?500 million at fast lane, one of the Royal Navy three


operating bases and one of the largest operating sites in Scotland,


currently 6000 military jobs there today. This will increase to 8000 as


we move all submarines based there by 2022. Scotland will also be home


to our new maritime patrol aircraft when 400 extra personnel will be


stationed to man the squadron at RAF Lossiemouth. Scotland is a vital


location. As the SNP has been pointing out for a long time, it's


been dangerous for a maritime state like the UK not to have maritime


patrol aircraft so we welcome the recent U-turn by the Government in


the procurement of the aircraft. Can you confirm when the entire fleet


will be operational? What we made clear is the procurement of nine


aircraft and the fleet will be put short through a perfume and


contract, the latter of which has already been submitted to the United


States. The first aircraft will be operational in 2019. The Minister


wasn't able to answer the question of when will the entire fleet be


operational so perhaps when it comes back after my second question, he


will answer the first. The RAF is currently maintaining its skill base


by training on maritime patrol aircraft with Canada, USA, Australia


and New Zealand. The importance of training was scheduled to be base at


RAF Kinloss before the scrapping of the Rod fleet. Will the Government


ensure that training for this aircraft is based at RAF Rosser


mouth as it currently is for both tornadoes and typhoons? As we are


currently in contractual negotiations for the procurement, it


would be wrong of me to pre-empt precisely the nature of those


negotiations so I can't answer as initial question as to how many


aircraft will be available by when until such time as the contract has


been concluded. As to training, he is right to reflect the fact that we


have cruise in service on this platform with other users in the USA


and the training will be established as part of the procurement process


in the coming months. This is another defence-related question.


While defence and national security remain reserved to the UK Parliament


we recognise the importance of engaging with the devolved


administrations and I just said it previous answer the Parliamentary


Under-Secretary of State of Scotland and I have met with a Scottish


Government to discuss these matters. UK defence contracts are a major


source of jobs in Scotland with 2500 employed on Clydeside so can the


Minister explain why his Government would to defence spending by 14% in


the last Parliament? Well, I'm sorry he seeks to hark back rather than to


look forward, having just published at the end of November the SDSR


during which this Government committed to increase defence


spending in real terms for each year this Parliament which is what we are


looking forward to and much of that investment will be spent in Scotland


and indeed in South Wales we procure the Ajax vehicle.... Foundations for


a stronger economy. A Scottish economy has been going for 11


quarters in a row. Scotland benefits from being part of the UK. The


fastest-growing G7 economy in 2014 and is forecast to the joint fastest


in 2015. Of course, will my right noble friend agree this is one


element which makes the union so successful? I do agree with the


honourable lady. It's a fundamental part of the growth in Scotland


economy that we are part of a single market within Ali UK. I had the


pleasure recently to visit Alexander Dennis, in Falkirk and I'm sure they


would agree the rest of the UK is one of the most important markets.


Given that employment in Scotland is now 53,000 higher than it was


pre-crisis, and given that output in Scotland is 3% higher than at the


peak crisis point, will he concur with Scottish business leaders that


to oppose the savage cuts by the Treasury in the Autumn Statement to


the UK's trade and export agency,... I very much welcome the figures my


honourable friend setup. In relation to the positive economic situation


in Scotland. I don't subscribe to the frequently voiced SNP position


that anything good that happens in Scotland is in relation to the


Scottish Government, anything bad is in relation to the UK Government. We


have two governments working together for the benefit of


Scotland. The North Sea oil and gas industry is part of Scotland's


economy. Yesterday a Scottish MSP claimed there was no crisis in the


industry. Even though it's been estimated 65,000 jobs have been lost


since 2014. The SNP clearly inhabits a different world to everybody else.


Can the Secretary of State tell us what is Government is doing to


support the oil industry and what it is doing to protect the thousands of


jobs which depend on it? Mr Speaker, I find it extraordinary that anyone


who represents the north-east of Scotland could claim that there was


no crisis in the oil and gas industry. This Government has


demonstrated yet again in the Chancellor 's Autumn Statement that


we are committed to that industry and thousands of jobs that it


supports right across the UK and there will be further evidence of


our commitment to Aberdeen and the north-east in the weeks ahead. This


is a question about benefit changes. The spending review 2015 shows over


half of all spending on welfare public services goes to the poorest


40% of households in the UK. This is not changed as a result of a


Government policy since 2010. The ISS estimates by 2020 more than 2.5


million working families on Universal Credit will be, on


average, ?1600 a year worse off due to the cuts to the work allowance in


Universal Credit. My constituents know how that's going to damage then


but does the Secretary of State have the first clue? How many of those


families are in Scotland and what the impact and scale will be on


them? The best way to help working households in this country is to


ensure that we have a job-creating economy, we see wages going up, we


introduce a national living wage to help millions of people and we have


a secure and stable economy. That's what this Government is delivering.


Household incomes in Scotland will be of intense interest, not least to


people living in Scotland. We must hear the questions and the answers.


I recently asked a question to the Secretary of State, what discussions


he had had with the Secretary of State of Work and Pensions on the


introduction of a new working health programme in Scotland? Has answer


was a masterful example on how to not to answer would is what we've


seen today. Will he take this opportunity to tell the House if he


has bothered to discuss how this new programme will affect my


constituents and the DWP? This Government is making reforms to the


welfare system, making sure work always pays, we have to ensure it is


affordable but Mayor also remind her that of course with the powers under


the Scotland Bill, Scottish Government does have the power to


top-up benefits and introduce new benefits. This is a question or the


number of students at Scottish universities. The figures show


applications for those aged 18 in 2040 was 37% in Scotland compared to


44% in England. I wish to share the voice of Christchurch. How can it be


in the UK national interest that school leavers from Scotland are


being denied access to their own universities because of the


arbitrary cap on numbers imposed by the Scottish Government when school


leavers with lower qualifications from the rest of the UK are able to


gain such access? The honourable gentleman makes an important point.


I've had students from my own constituency refused entry to


Scottish universities because of the cap which has been imposed by the


Scottish Government. We hear a lot about free tuition in Scotland, but


this is one of the consequences and I'm sure it will be part of a debate


on the forthcoming Scottish Parliament elections. The Scottish


affairs committee have been looking into higher education specifically a


study scheme for Scotland. He will find everybody, universities, trade


unions, employers Association, one that scheme for Scotland. Will he be


a Secretary of State for Scotland and put that case to the Home


Office? We always listen with interest and take forward in a


positive way anything forthcoming from the Scottish affairs select


committee and I look forward to reading his report. A question about


how much it costs to run the Scotland Office. The admin costs of


running it and the office of the aggregate general for Scotland in


the financial year 2010-11 was 7.68 8 million. Administrative provision


for both offices in 2019-20 agreed the recent spending review is 9.24


million. Will he confirm to the House what the percentage of the


administrative costs of his department are met by Scottish


taxpayers? The honourable gentleman knows that the funding arrangements


within the UK don't work on that basis. He also knows this Government


is committed to retaining the Barnett Formula, a fair allocation


of funding to Scotland. I'm afraid that's all we got time for at the


moment. We will be back with the next Scottish Questions in exactly


five weeks' time. That is on Wednesday the 10th of February so


put a note in your diary and join us then if you can. But, from all of a


sudden Westminster, goodbye. -- from all of us at Westminster, goodbye.


You'd better come in with a brilliant product.


Get it right and we might help your business reach the next level.


Download Subtitles