21/11/2012 Scottish Questions


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A very warm will come up to it a decidedly wet Westminster for


Scottish Questions. Because of the way the parliamentary timetable


works, this is the final Scottish Questions of 2012 oz up we will see


whether there is any Christmas goodwill on offer. The economy at


the Scottish independence referendum have featured


prominently. Up here is how proceedings got under way.


Questions to the Secretary of State for Scotland. Thank you Mr Speaker.


Up the UK Government firmly believes that Scotland is and


always will be better off as part of the UK. We are undertaking


analysis to see how Scotland contributes to an benefits from


being part of the UK. Can I thank the Minister for that answer. I


would also like to explain to the House why is so much concern among


industries in Scotland about the future of their jobs. As it was in


April, there are 15,000 regular armed forces and minis their


defence personnel based in Scotland, and that the additional 40,000


employed in related industries. Not one of those people could guarantee


their jobs under an independent Scotland. The SNP's commitment to a


nuclear three Scotland would presumably mean the end of Trident


and that would mean the end of 6000 jobs in Scotland. What those be


replicated elsewhere are what they simply lose their jobs? I can


advise the honourable gentleman that by Twenty20, there will be


8000 jobs based at Faslane following the announcement of an


additional 1500 jobs by the Secretary of State for Defence.


There is no certainty what would happen to anybody employed by the


defence under-threes within Scotland under an independent


Scotland. -- Industries. The recent list of job announcements and


Scotland has been quite remarkable. In the renewable sector, the


ministry will no there was �2.3 billion worth of announcements this


year and further jobs attached. Each of those decisions have been


taking in the sure and certain knowledge that the referendum is


coming and independence as likely. -- is likely. LAUGHTER Why are


these decisions continuing to be made and why has nobody listening


to the scare stories? These investments are taking place


despite the uncertainty, not because of it. I tend to agree with


the person who gave evidence yesterday to one of the committees


of this Parliament, who said they supported benefits of independence


are small, 10 years and are likely to arise, while the dangers are


large and serious. The Minister mentioned uncertainty but the only


uncertainty we have seen as the massive increase in the North Sea


supplementary charge. The Government are now making it easier


to sack people. As it not the case as another set earlier this year,


that in the event of independence, the Scottish government's approach


will be to make Scotland more and not less competitive? Is that not


the truth, instead of scare stories? When the people of


Scotland have a decision on independence in the referendum,


they must be sure that that decision is a long-term decision.


Independence is not for Christmas 2014, and that the honourable


gentleman look at the report, he would see it that an independent


Scotland would face much harder decisions than the rest of the UK


in the longer term. Are we aware that 30,000 Scots are employed by


UK agencies to work as civil servants were in Scotland? --


within. What would happen to those jobs that Scotland opted for


independence and has there been clarity from the SNP? There has


been no discussion between the SNP and the UK Government about the


future of defence based jobs in Scotland, or indeed civil-service


jobs or any other jobs. Those people face a great uncertainty if


Scotland were to become independent. The agreement reached between the


United Kingdom and Scotland's governments recognises that a


referendum should be based on the normal rules for referenda across


the United Kingdom. It is clearly important that all parties respect


the independence of the Electoral Commission. Do you agree that if


the SNP administration were to ignore the advice of the Electoral


Commission, it would take the whole process at column to question


whether the referendum was there. - - taint. -- fair. I do not think it


would be in the interests of the Scottish government on any


nationalists to put themselves against the advice of the Electoral


Commission. Does the Minister shared concerns that the referendum


question some that it is weighted in favour of a positive outcome?


understand the concerns some people have with the particular


formulation put forward, but I think the Electoral Commission with


its great experience is in the correct position to do the right


thing. I am ready to stand by the advice they get and I hope the


Scottish government is as well. you except that while the Electoral


Commission might be at a full week on occasions, it is necessary to


have an impartial body deciding on these questions? The alternative is


to have separate arrests as both the referee and player in these


circumstances. It is unacceptable to have a side which is arguing on


one side also deciding the rules. quite agree with that. He and his


colleagues have been carrying out a series of investigations into this


on the question of independence. The referendum has to be seen to be


fair to both sides. We cannot possibly have circumstances at the


end of this process where people are calling into question the


outcome. I hope the Scottish government well accept the


Electoral Commission's advice. Given that any proposals to extend


the franchise to 16 and 17 year- olds is not likely to take into


effect until the spring of 2014, will advise be available and how


those people should register and vote? She raises at a very


important point about the extension of the franchise. This will be a


matter for the Scottish government to bring forward their detailed


proposals. I imagine the Electoral Commission will outline advice.


Given that yesterday in front of the honourable gentleman from the


Scottish Affairs Select Committee, the gentleman who gave it evidence


on behalf of BES to separation campaign campaign -- yes to


separation campaign, what sanctions are there within government foray


campaign which blatantly refuse to take the advice of the Electoral


Commission? I have to say, this government and its spread assessors


have always followed the advice of the Electoral Commission and I


would expect the Scottish government to do that as well. --


predecessors. The Secretary of State has just asserted once again


that no government has ever in -- ignored the advice of the Electoral


Commission. Far from ignoring, a Scottish government is yet to


receive its advice while his government have rejected the advice


on the council tax in England. Could he put the record straight


now? I hope I can reassure the honourable gentleman at help him to


come down, because it as John Cormack said on television last


weekend, for a very referendum that has taken place, the Electoral


Commission's advice and question have been accepted. Noah referenda


have taken place on the council tax matters he mentioned. We have


reflected on the advice and will be bringing forward proposals on that


I have all answer questions three and 12 together. This government is


committed to promoting United Kingdom businesses including


Scotland's around the world. The review is currently being taken


under -- on Scottish exporting. Does he agree that as well as


promoting business, we also need to support businesses at that time


when access to finance is so important? What steps is she taking


to work with the Scottish government to ensure prompt payment


and in particular, that private sector suppliers are paid and the


timely fashion? It is certainly something we as the Government are


committed to to ensuring that private sector suppliers are paid


on time, to make sure business as sustained and by a happy to work


with the Scottish government or anybody else to make sure everyone


adheres to best practice. What action is being taken to ensure


there is no conflict between Scottish Development and elsewhere


when they are using public money to attract companies the north side of


the border with a big a character? He underlines the importance of


trade between the Scottish and British economies. Up it comes to


half the value of what we sell into England, Wales and the rest of the


UK. UKTI Has 162 offices in 96 countries. This offers a get


network for Scottish business to get the best out of the United


Kingdom. I think it is important we work together but it is clear we


would be stronger together and weaker apart. As we have seen, the


work that is being undertaken here has an impact on Scottish


businesses at home and abroad. Can I draw the Secretary of State's


attention to the Troubles Scottish businesses are currently


experiencing close up unemployment is now higher in Scotland than in


the rest of the UK. Recent research reveals a further challenge for the


Scottish economy and Scottish businesses also up -- business is


also up welfare changes alone will remove Ilott the money from the


economy and lead to the loss of jobs across Scotland. What does he


Where they share this analysis is that there is a huge mess that


needs to be cleared up. There are some deep-seated problems in the UK


and Scottish economy is in real problems in Europe. But what she


cannot do, what she tries to do every time that she comes to this


dispatch box, is to duck Labour's responsibility for what we have


inherited. We are hoping that to welfare reform we make work pay.


The risk or at -- -- support the most vulnerable and help people


back into work. From next April islanders and 62,000 Scots will be


taken out of tax altogether. Some colleagues from their Liberal


Democrats do not share his views, and Katie asked then to -- and


Katie asked them if to give him some more support? The Secretary of


State has to start addressing the work his government is doing in


Scotland. Earlier this month in a letter to new Secretary of State


revealed that he is not on one of the Cabinet committee meetings


dealing with the economy or welfare. We had no action on the banks, now


no action on Scotland's economy. He does not understand the end Peck of


the welfare changes on Scotland. -- the impact. When is he going to


start doing his job? I am certainly doing my job. Is he doing his?


are going to take no lessons from the Labour Party about the state of


the United Kingdom economy. We will deal with the mess that they left


us, get us back on the right track, and give ourselves a sustainable


growth. Labour had no plan whatsoever. With permission, I will


answer questions 4 and 5 together. I have discussed a referendum with


the Scottish Government on a number of occasions, most recently on 15th


October, when Scotland's two governments came to an agreement to


make sure that there is a legal and decisive referendum. Does the


Secretary of State's agree with me that one of arguments for a


referendum is based on the false premise that independence to be


good for the Scottish economy? Does he agree with me that it would be


good for the English economy but not for the Scottish economy?


certainly agree with my honourable friend that Scotland is stronger as


part of the United Kingdom economy and would be weaker outside it.


Primarily because we have access to this single market which takes


twice as many exports as anywhere else in the world. We have the


cloud, internationally, to be at the top table were all the key


economic decisions are made. That is far better for Scotland.


Does the Secretary of State agree at me that last week we signed


example of what happens when you do not listen to the electoral


commission, in that the Debach call on the police commissioners's


elections -- the disaster. Will the Secretary of State us top to the


Scottish Government to make sure that the same disaster does not


happen in Scotland has happened last week? And I do not agree with


him on the example that he uses, but on the principle that we should


listen to their electoral commission and follow his advice, I


am in complete agreement with pence. I was not particularly standing on


this particular issue. Mr Wisheart, have a go. Thank you, Mr Speaker.


Can the Minister confirm that following the end -- the Edinburgh


Agreement, the referendum is now a matter are the Scottish parliament


and this House has no further role? I know that the honourable


gentleman always wants to denigrate the parliament of which he has a


part, and I wish he would stop doing that, but a rather important


part of that agreement is that we will pass the section 30 order


which will transfer the power was to the Scottish Parliament. That


one of debates in this place and the other place as well as in the


Scottish Parliament. We are all part of this debate and all Scots


will be part of that political process. When the Secretary of


State does next meet the First Minister will he sure where pen a


powerful call by Hillary Clinton, that reminds us that there things


that bind us together for a more powerful than any distinctions and


identity. Wasn't the institute were does cost studies right to point


out that we want to diversify the Scottish economy away from revenue


dependence on oil and gas revenues. We need an economy which benefits


Scotland and is the likely result of our shared prosperity in the


future? The honourable gentleman makes two important points. House


senior international figures, when you look at their decision that


confronts Scots, time and again say that eight in Scotland would be


better as part of the United Kingdom. And it is significant to


show Scotland's economy as stronger within the UK. There are far too


many noisy conversations taking place, mainly on the opposition


benches. Scotland is stronger in defence terms as part of the United


Kingdom within Nato. That is the bedrock of our national security


and the UK is one of its largest contributors. There is no guarantee


that an independent Scotland would gain automatic membership. What


discussions has my right honourable friend held with the Scottish


Government and discussing Scotland's stance on Natal, given


that so many within the government anti- nuclear. It is not clear that


the Scottish Government has had any dialogue a tall with Nato about


prospective membership. It is clear or that membership could not be


guaranteed. The door does not open just because you stand in front of


it. The dockyard in my constituency works for the Ministry of Defence


and the Royal Navy. Will the Minister clarify whether of


Scotland was a separate country, regardless of its Nato membership,


the dockyard be not be getting work from the Royal Navy. Mr Speaker,


many UK defence contractors benefit from contracts which are exclusive


to the UK. Many have been awarded in the honourable member's


constituency in there is no guarantee that these contracts


would be awarded in an independent Scotland. Does my honourable friend


agree that there is an hour problem with saying that there is a an


opposition to nuclear weapons and a membership of Nato? I agree. Some


members of the Scottish National Party agree with pen. They cannot


reconcile their positions. -- with Hearn. But many SNP's continue to


sit in government in Scotland where they cannot reconcile those two


positions. The United Kingdom government has reduced the deficit


by a quarter. We are taking important steps to promote growth


and corporation tax, accelerating infrastructure projects and the


funding for lending scheme are just some of the measures being


implemented. Does the Secretary of State agree with a recent


assessment by the Institute of Fiscal Studies that in the event of


a separate Scotland the economy will not be sustainable in the long


term? I quite agree with the honourable gentleman. We have got a


much stronger opportunity to continue as part of the United


Kingdom than we do if we go alone separate way. The meat processing


factory at Port less than in my constituency has been put up for


sale. -- in Aberdeenshire. honourable friend makes an


important point. Clearly these had been very important months,


particularly for those who had been implied in West Lothian in meat


producing, and now we have the sale of the rest of the grip. I would be


happy to meet with my honourable friend to discuss the implications.


Hopefully we will sustain the jobs that run the company.


constituency in Cambuslang have also been affected by a company


ceasing operations in Scotland. Those 400 people are obviously very


anxious about their future. We do contact the company to make sure


that their employees get a guarantee on their position as soon


as possible? The honourable gentleman makes a very fair point.


How will certainly on his staff have take that up with the company.


I will be happy to meet the pen to discuss it further. -- meet with


him. The UK government is committed to providing the best high-speed


broadband by 2015. The Scottish Government was allocated money to


support broadband improvements. It is now in their hands. This


Government had allocated over �100 million to Scotland for rural high-


speed broadband. Will the Minister please do all that they can to


encourage the Scottish Government to get in Avon to make sure that --


to get a move on to make sure that there is high-speed broadband in


Argyll and Bute as soon as possible. I will encourage these agencies to


get on with it in terms of their -- in terms of rural broadband. I am


very concerned about all Scotland getting super-fast broadband. As


the Minister aware that BT had just announced that they are going to


roll-out copper wire into parts of my constituency. It is last


century's technology. Could he Totty BT about rolling out fibre-


optic wiring across sold Scotland at -- could he talked to be tea.


would be happy to discuss this issue. Does the Minister agree that


broadband coverage per cent say us to be based on local authority


airier rather than national area -- percentages. The Scottish


Government has been given �100 million and they should get on with


it in his constituency and elsewhere.


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