09/01/2013 Scottish Questions


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Hello and a warm welcome to Westminster for the first Scottish


questions of 2013 and I can tell you the weather has in January feel.


The referendum on Scottish independence may still be 20 months


away but it is still very much making its presence felt,


particularly when MPs get together to discuss specifically Scottish


issues as we will see it. Here's how proceedings got under way.


Questions to the Secretary of State of Scotland. Do question No. 1, Mr


Speaker. This government has taken a range of access to promote


Scottish businesses overseas including Brian Wilson as a


business ambassador. I have also spoken to the Canadian trade


minister. A Mr David Amis. How many Scottish business leaders as the


Secretary of State met who believe that the Scottish Trade in position


will be improved if Scotland leaves the United Kingdom? No Scottish


business leader has ever put at point to me, Mr Speaker possibly


because they recognise the strength of Scotland being in the United


Kingdom. If that that there are 162 UKTI officers backed up by concerts


around the world. The Scotch whisky industry last year was worth more


than �4.2 billion and it is one of Scotland and the UK's biggest


exporting industries. Can the Secretary of State confirm that the


UK Government charges for its promotion internationally, how much


does it charge and why? Can I joined the honourable gentleman in


welcoming the success of the Scotch whisky industry. A huge part of the


overall sector of Scottish food and drink. And it is so critical to


Scotland's exporting potential and I do not want to put that at risk


because I think Scotland being part of an international network of


offices embassies is the best way forward. Mr Speaker, everybody will


have noted that the Secretary of State did not answer the question.


I asked him whether he would confirm the UK Government charges


for the promotion of Scotch whisky internationally. The apparent in


the Foreign Office does charge and charges �3,000 a time to promote


Scotch whisky at international events. This is ridiculous. What is


he doing about it and when will it stop? The honourable gentleman is


choosing to ignore the fact that thanks to the UK Government for our


network of offices across the hall of the world, the fact that our


embassy network the second to none compared certainly to an


independent Scotland. Scotch whisky is a much stronger place as being


part of the United Kingdom than it would be if independent. The Sir


Robert Smith. Could the Secretary of State recognised as an important


the energy industry is in the north-east of Scotland to driving


the export potential for Scotland and that by having a strong home


base of production of skills and technology in the North Sea, we


have built a base for great export potential to provinces around the


world. I have paid tribute to my honourable friend's success in this


area. He is an undoubted champion of the oil and gas sector across


the whole of the UK. He is right to point out its potential and he will


be aware that I met with the Brazilian ambassador and other


Brazilian interest in Aberdeen a few months ago and I look forward


to returning to Brazil to focus on oil and gas is used in the next few


weeks. Jim Sheridan. On the question of Scotch whisky, it


chronicles what would have a % of UK food and drink exports it is


held back by various tariff barriers around the world, most


noticeably in India, a 50% tariff on it. What action is the


Government taking to help the industry export growth in other


countries? I think the honourable gentleman is right once again to


highlight the importance of the whisky sector and not least two


large chunks of Scotland, not just concentrated around distilleries.


We are working hard along with Scotch whisky interest to make sure


we work within Europe to break down barriers in India and elsewhere.


There is a level of support for the Scotch whisky industry it could not


hope to have with an independent Scotland. A question about the


Scotland. A question about the Scotland. A question about the


effect of not going ahead with the fuel duty rise announced in the


Autumn Statement.... To put seven motor vehicles saving a typical


driver �40 per year and a haulier top hundred pounds per year.


Blackman. Could my honourable friend agree that by cancelling


planned tax increases on fuel, we will save the average Scottish


motorist more than �600 during the life of this coalition government?


I agree with my honourable friend, the deferral of Labour's planned


duty rise in April this year will mean that fuel will be 13p a litre


cheaper than it would have been under a Labour government.


welcomed the Government listing to our call to stop the rise but could


I ask the Minister what discussions he has had with Scottish Government


in terms of what assistance can be given to smaller retailers, in


particular in rural areas to make sure that people can take advantage


of decent pricing rather than those two and a live in the urban areas?


The honourable lady makes an important point and at the end of


this month I will be meeting with a Fuel distributor panel with MPs and


she will be welcome to join that about Europe distribution in rural


areas. -- about rural distribution. Will the Minister support the call


to lobby the EU to extend the bowel and fuel duty to places like


Argyll? Where honourable friend will have noted that in the midterm


review, the coalition government looked at the possibility of


extending the 5p reduction to areas of the mainland which are similar


to island communities. The cut in fuel duty has been very welcome in


my constituency and I remember asking Labour to do this and it was


refused. When will this be moved to areas to which my constituents pass


on the way home another way back to the mainland? In the previous


answer to my honourable friend from Argyll and Bute, in the midterm


review, the coalition government has undertaken to examine that


possibility. Robert Halfon. Government have done their bit in


cutting fuel duty but will wife honourable friend lobby the oil


companies to take their responsibility -- will my


honourable friend? I am sure that my honourable friend welcomes the


fact that there is an OFT inquiry into fuel prices and I look forward


to seeing the outcome of that inquiry in January. Has been


minister look into whether reductions has been passed on to


motorists in Scotland? If you go to Kennington Road in London you can


buy petrol at 129.9. It is now more expensive to buy petrol next to


where petrol is produced in Scotland than it is in Kennington


in London. Is he doing anything about making sure that the motorist


and not being ripped off? Speaker, the price of fuel at


different Pascal stations in different communities is a matter


which has been of long-term concern -- petrol stations and that is why


the OFT is currently conducting an inquiry into that very issue. In my


previous answer I indicated the results of those inquiries would be


available in January. It will make very interesting reading.


STUDIO: This is a question about the use of Stirling in an


This is looking at a range of issues including the use of the


pound's fall out parts of the United Kingdom. There has been no


discussions about the use of the pound for an independent Scotland.


This means that the Bank of England will be the lender of last resort


for the Bank of Scotland. To stop a repetition of the eurozone, this


means the Government must have an over site role in two Scottish --


in two Scottish spending plans. Speaker there cabinet such


discussions. The point here is that the pound has held Scotland and the


UK well for 300 years and we have seen in the Rose and the risk of


having a formal monetary union without a fiscal union and a


fiscally independent Scotland would create real complications for that.


All this would have to be negotiated after the referendum


vote. I think it would take some persuading more people in the rest


of the UK to take on the role that the SNP wish for it. To the


Minister knows that it is the Scottish Government's intention


that Scotland will continue to use And there is nothing to stop that.


While it makes sense to have a formal union, Woody not agree that


a stability pact based around levels -- would he not agree, is


perfectly sensible and can no way at all be portrayed as a foreign


currency running Scotland's economy? Firstly, I am sure the


House will join me in welcoming the honourable member back to his place.


While we do not always agree, we are delighted to the contribution


he is making and we are glad to see him in good health and we wish him


the best. However, on the issue of the pound after the referendum,


should Scotland vote to become independent, which I believe it


will not do, that will be a matter for negotiation. The credibility of


the Bank of England as the lender of last resort at the moment is


because we have a single, central, fiscal authority and the UK tax


bearer standing behind it. To complicate that would require


negotiations with the rest of the UK which will have to consider its


interest. We can't just have this one-sided wish-list. We must


recognise that there will be a negotiation. Isn't the 0116 229


3118 wrong on this because if there was an independent Scotland, --


isn't the honourable member wrong, they will want to join the European


Union and will they not then therefore be forced to accept the


euro? Many agree with that part with him, he makes an important


point, that amidst all the turmoil over Europe, it has not set out how


it will negotiate the opt out to join the euro. Last year on


December 5th, I took part in a Westminster Hall debate where the


Secretary of State for Scotland said he commissioned a report into


why the separatist lead Dundee City Council was the worst led council.


I have contacted his office but he has yet to get back to me. He said


I would get a letter giving details but I have yet to... Does the


Minister want to ask about the continued use about the pound in an


independent Scotland. I am sure that is what he wanted to do.


the currency arrangements after independence should that be the way,


because I said to be honourable gentleman that my right honourable


friend is delighted to meet him as soon as possible to discuss the


issue he has raised and will make sure that happens. In it may be


that the honourable gentleman wanted to come in unquestioned four


but he was ahead of himself. I am sure he is great bowl.


STUDIO: This is a question about With permission, I'll answer


questions for and nine together. The Department for Work and


Pensions published an impact assessment for welfare benefits


uprating which states around 30% of all households will be affected by


the measures contained in the bill. I thank the Minister for the answer.


Even after changes to tax allowances, a single earning


household with children will be a �534 a year worse off by 20th April


15. Does the Minister still believe the government should be going


ahead as its parity with a tax cut for millionaires?


What I believe is the government should be continuing to work to


sort out the mess in the economy which his Labour government left


behind. The measures announced yesterday will save �5 billion for


which he and his colleagues have given no answers to where they


would find such savings. One in five working families in


Scotland rely on tax credits will see a cut in income as a result of


the changes. Many rely on a low- paid temporary jobs. Can he tell me


what steps he will take in 2013 it to tackle the scourge of our and


employment in Scotland? The Rakhine will be working with a Scottish


government at stake holders to set up an employability forum which


will look at the Government's and interested parties working together


to ensure we get more people into full-time employment -- Secretary


of State. Does the Minister agree the Scottish economy is part of the


UK economy and that the economy of the whole country will not improve


unless and until we bring public spending under control?


I agree with my Honourable Friend. The whole benefits issue is an


example of the SNP Scottish government making promises which


they cannot possibly keep in relation to benefits in an


independent Scotland just simply to curry favour with the electorate.


Thank you. Can the Minister tell us how many members of the armed


forces in Scotland will see income has cut as a result of the vote?


What I can tell the Honourable Lady is that last night's vote was about


ensuring we have a sustainable welfare system and the Honourable


Ladies answer on these issues is more borrowing, more spending and


more debt. She could not say how she would front the rises in


benefits which she voted for. What a disappointing answer. The


answer is 4,000 members of the armed forces. There might be a Lib


Dem leading the Scottish Office but Scots know it is the same old


Tories. In 2010 at the department told us we have absolutely no


desire to see people losing their jobs or being in worse


circumstances than before. Can the Minister explain why they are


failing the test they set themselves?


What the people of Scotland know is it is the same old Labour Party, no


apology for the mess and their only proposal is more spending, more


borrowing and more debts. He must be patient. I am saving him


up! It comes as no surprise that I opposed the cap on benefits last


night because it will hammer thousands of families in Scotland


he would try to bring up children while working hard. Does he share


my surprise that some senior MPs, including Labour Members of


Parliament who left us with this mess, did not turn up to vote?


Nowadays nothing in the SNP members say or do surprises me. The SNP


position is totally hypocritical. In Scotland, the Scottish


government is asking nurses and NHS workers to take a 1% pay rise yet


they want benefits to be more than that.


With permission, I will answer questions five and 12 together.


JobCentre plus operates eight food back referral service however the


government does not hold information on the number seeking


assistance from the food banks. are in its 23rd team and not 1813?


The need for food banks this here is an abominable reflection on


society -- 2013. When you consider you have them in Prestwick which is


one of the most salubrious parts of my constituency. 15% of them are in


employment. What an indictment in this government. While I share his


concern about food banks and the use of food banks and the fact they


are vulnerable people in crisis, what I will not do is excepts the


pretence that somehow food banks have only come into existence since


this government came to power. That is simply not true. There were food


banks under Labour and they did not advertise them in Jobcentres.


What measures does the Minister have it for the increasing number


of people who are forced to go to food banks to feed their families


and what can he do to alleviate the situation?


I certainly acknowledge his concerns. He instigated a useful


Westminster Hall debate on this matter. The government will


continue to do all it can to help and support the vulnerable in his


constituency and elsewhere. Thank you. Two years ago the


Secretary of State said the horrible truth is across the


country everyone is going to have to make a contribution but the


horrible truth of life in Scotland under his government is that a food


bank in my constituency has experienced a father walking 15


miles for a bag of food to feed his family. Is this an appropriate


contribution while the government gives a �2,000 a week cuts to


millionaires? I have indicated already the government is always


concerned about those who need to use food banks for any


circumstances but I am not taking lectures from him on millionaires


when he wants to give them child benefit. The UK government has


allocated millions of investment for rural broadband and Scotland.


It is the responsibility of the Scottish government to deliver on


this.... Towards super-fast broadband access. What is clear is


people throw Scotland want to see the broadband access, in rural


areas, implemented as soon as possible and we will work closely


with a Scottish government to ensure they deliver on the


undertakings they have given for the �100 million they had received.


Can I say to the minister, whilst I recognise the role of Scottish


government plays in the provision of broadband in rural areas, he is


fully aware in areas like his and mind Small and Medium-Sized


Enterprise is depend on good connectivity. What is his


department doing to ensure the Scottish government is delivering?


I can assure him that we would hold the Scottish government to account


for the investment and whilst this government has funded investment in


Edinburgh and Aberdeen and Perth we want to see the Scottish government


delivering for Dumfries and Galloway and other rural areas.


There are too many noisy private conversations taking place. Can I


thank the UK government for their support to the Aberdeen broadband


fund and also the contribution to the expansion of broadband but I


urge him to recognise in rural areas we want super-fast broadband


inner-cities but we need access at speeds for businesses to flourish


in rural areas. I can advise him up that I have met with Aberdeen share


Council to discuss exactly the issue and whilst the super City


broadband is welcome in Aberdeen, we wanted rolled out into


Aberdeenshire as well. Thank you. The use of super-fast broadband is


one of the effective way is to promote the identity of our country.


Will the Secretary of State welcome to Parliament today the Ulster


scotched agency promoting the links between Ulster and Scotland of


which the Secretary of State is a wonderful example as a born


Ulsterman who is serving Scotland actually he used super-fast


broadband to continue to promote our wonderful culture, shared


Ulster and Unionist heritage? Secretary of State is a wonderful


example of many things and the answer is yes. There is too much


noise. A question on the Autumn Statement. I will answer questions


seven and 11 together. A difficult economic backdrop, the Autumn


Statement set out a range of measures to protect Scotland's


economy, to equip businesses to compete in a global race and Selena


growth and to ensure businesses and households in Scotland are treated


fairly. Would he like to confirm one of the disastrous consequences


of any independent Scotland would be a disjointed transport system


and what my constituency in Lincoln my benefit, many in Scotland would


not be happy to see direct rail services from London to Edinburgh


could tales. My Honourable Friend makes an important point about the


importance of keeping Scotland within the UK to the benefit of


Scotland at the whole of the UK. The government said at Villa get


the deficit down, balance the books fairly and get people back to work


but the deficit is billions higher this year than last, one in five


working families have tax credits/and long-term unemployment


is rising fast in Scotland than the rest of the UK. Is he happy to be


part of a government that is failing all of its tests?


The deficit has come down by a quarter and she should acknowledge


we are clearing up the mess that Labour left behind. It will take --


I will take no lessons from hat or her party. We have cut income tax


for the lowest incomes -- earners, we have restored the pension link


and helped millions of motorists in difficult times, they were planning


the opposite. We take no lessons from Labour on managing the economy.


I am afraid that's all we've time for. We will be back again with the


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