09/01/2013 Scottish Questions


09/01/2013

Coverage from Westminster of Scottish Questions.


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Hello and a warm welcome to Westminster for the first Scottish

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

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The referendum on Scottish independence may still be 20 months

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

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particularly when MPs get together to discuss specifically Scottish

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

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

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

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Scottish businesses overseas including Brian Wilson as a

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business ambassador. I have also spoken to the Canadian trade

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

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

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

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

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because they recognise the strength of Scotland being in the United

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

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

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

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exporting industries. Can the Secretary of State confirm that the

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UK Government charges for its promotion internationally, how much

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

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

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

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

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because I think Scotland being part of an international network of

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

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

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I asked him whether he would confirm the UK Government charges

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for the promotion of Scotch whisky internationally. The apparent in

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

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

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

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

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

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embassy network the second to none compared certainly to an

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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be aware that I met with the Brazilian ambassador and other

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

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

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

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

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held back by various tariff barriers around the world, most

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

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Government taking to help the industry export growth in other

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

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highlight the importance of the whisky sector and not least two

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large chunks of Scotland, not just concentrated around distilleries.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Blackman. Could my honourable friend agree that by cancelling

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

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

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

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

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cheaper than it would have been under a Labour government.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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review, the coalition government looked at the possibility of

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

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

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

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

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

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

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review, the coalition government has undertaken to examine that

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possibility. Robert Halfon. Government have done their bit in

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cutting fuel duty but will wife honourable friend lobby the oil

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companies to take their responsibility -- will my

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

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

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

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minister look into whether reductions has been passed on to

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

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

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where petrol is produced in Scotland than it is in Kennington

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

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

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different Pascal stations in different communities is a matter

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

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

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previous answer I indicated the results of those inquiries would be

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available in January. It will make very interesting reading.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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in two Scottish spending plans. Speaker there cabinet such

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

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

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having a formal monetary union without a fiscal union and a

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fiscally independent Scotland would create real complications for that.

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All this would have to be negotiated after the referendum

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

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

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Minister knows that it is the Scottish Government's intention

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:11:03.:11:08.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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should Scotland vote to become independent, which I believe it

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

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

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

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bearer standing behind it. To complicate that would require

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Secretary of State for Scotland said he commissioned a report into

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

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

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

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

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

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the currency arrangements after independence should that be the way,

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because I said to be honourable gentleman that my right honourable

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

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

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that the honourable gentleman wanted to come in unquestioned four

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

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

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questions for and nine together. The Department for Work and

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Pensions published an impact assessment for welfare benefits

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

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

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Even after changes to tax allowances, a single earning

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

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

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ahead as its parity with a tax cut for millionaires?

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

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

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

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

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would find such savings. One in five working families in

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

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

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

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

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government at stake holders to set up an employability forum which

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

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

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

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

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unless and until we bring public spending under control?

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

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example of the SNP Scottish government making promises which

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they cannot possibly keep in relation to benefits in an

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independent Scotland just simply to curry favour with the electorate.

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

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

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:17:07.:17:09.

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

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ensuring we have a sustainable welfare system and the Honourable

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

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

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

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

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

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

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desire to see people losing their jobs or being in worse

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circumstances than before. Can the Minister explain why they are

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failing the test they set themselves?

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

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

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

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

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night because it will hammer thousands of families in Scotland

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

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my surprise that some senior MPs, including Labour Members of

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

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

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position is totally hypocritical. In Scotland, the Scottish

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

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they want benefits to be more than that.

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

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JobCentre plus operates eight food back referral service however the

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government does not hold information on the number seeking

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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pretence that somehow food banks have only come into existence since

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

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

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What measures does the Minister have it for the increasing number

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

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and what can he do to alleviate the situation?

:20:48.:20:55.

I certainly acknowledge his concerns. He instigated a useful

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Westminster Hall debate on this matter. The government will

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

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constituency and elsewhere. Thank you. Two years ago the

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Secretary of State said the horrible truth is across the

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

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

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bank in my constituency has experienced a father walking 15

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

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

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millionaires? I have indicated already the government is always

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concerned about those who need to use food banks for any

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circumstances but I am not taking lectures from him on millionaires

:21:52.:22:02.
:22:02.:22:04.

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

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allocated millions of investment for rural broadband and Scotland.

:22:09.:22:11.

It is the responsibility of the Scottish government to deliver on

:22:12.:22:21.
:22:22.:22:39.

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

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

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

:22:48.:22:51.

with a Scottish government to ensure they deliver on the

:22:51.:23:00.

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

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

:23:05.:23:15.
:23:15.:23:17.

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

:23:17.:23:24.

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

:23:24.:23:27.

Enterprise is depend on good connectivity. What is his

:23:27.:23:32.

department doing to ensure the Scottish government is delivering?

:23:32.:23:39.

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

:23:39.:23:42.

for the investment and whilst this government has funded investment in

:23:42.:23:47.

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

:23:47.:23:54.

delivering for Dumfries and Galloway and other rural areas.

:23:54.:24:00.

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

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thank the UK government for their support to the Aberdeen broadband

:24:05.:24:12.

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

:24:12.:24:17.

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

:24:17.:24:21.

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

:24:21.:24:30.

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

:24:31.:24:34.

Council to discuss exactly the issue and whilst the super City

:24:34.:24:38.

broadband is welcome in Aberdeen, we wanted rolled out into

:24:38.:24:48.

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

:24:48.:24:53.

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

:24:53.:24:57.

Will the Secretary of State welcome to Parliament today the Ulster

:24:57.:25:02.

scotched agency promoting the links between Ulster and Scotland of

:25:02.:25:05.

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

:25:05.:25:10.

Ulsterman who is serving Scotland actually he used super-fast

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broadband to continue to promote our wonderful culture, shared

:25:16.:25:21.

Ulster and Unionist heritage? Secretary of State is a wonderful

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

:25:26.:25:36.
:25:36.:25:38.

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

:25:38.:25:42.

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

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

:25:45.:25:50.

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

:25:50.:25:54.

growth and to ensure businesses and households in Scotland are treated

:25:54.:26:00.

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

:26:00.:26:05.

of any independent Scotland would be a disjointed transport system

:26:05.:26:09.

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

:26:09.:26:14.

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

:26:14.:26:20.

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

:26:20.:26:24.

importance of keeping Scotland within the UK to the benefit of

:26:24.:26:29.

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

:26:29.:26:33.

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

:26:33.:26:38.

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

:26:38.:26:41.

working families have tax credits/and long-term unemployment

:26:41.:26:47.

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

:26:47.:26:51.

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

:26:51.:26:56.

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

:26:56.:27:01.

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

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

:27:06.:27:12.

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

:27:12.:27:16.

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

:27:16.:27:21.

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

:27:21.:27:27.

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

:27:27.:27:31.

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