21/11/2012 Scottish Questions


21/11/2012

Coverage from Westminster of Scottish Questions.


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

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Scottish Questions. Because of the way the parliamentary timetable

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

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

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the Scottish independence referendum have featured

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prominently. Up here is how proceedings got under way.

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

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Up the UK Government firmly believes that Scotland is and

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

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analysis to see how Scotland contributes to an benefits from

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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nuclear three Scotland would presumably mean the end of Trident

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

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

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advise the honourable gentleman that by Twenty20, there will be

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8000 jobs based at Faslane following the announcement of an

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additional 1500 jobs by the Secretary of State for Defence.

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

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defence under-threes within Scotland under an independent

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

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

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

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

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taking in the sure and certain knowledge that the referendum is

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:03:13.:03:22.

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

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these decisions continuing to be made and why has nobody listening

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to the scare stories? These investments are taking place

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

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the person who gave evidence yesterday to one of the committees

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of this Parliament, who said they supported benefits of independence

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

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large and serious. The Minister mentioned uncertainty but the only

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

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supplementary charge. The Government are now making it easier

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

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

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

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

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Scotland have a decision on independence in the referendum,

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

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Independence is not for Christmas 2014, and that the honourable

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Scotland were to become independent. The agreement reached between the

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United Kingdom and Scotland's governments recognises that a

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referendum should be based on the normal rules for referenda across

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

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

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the SNP administration were to ignore the advice of the Electoral

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

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

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would be in the interests of the Scottish government on any

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nationalists to put themselves against the advice of the Electoral

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Commission. Does the Minister shared concerns that the referendum

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

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understand the concerns some people have with the particular

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formulation put forward, but I think the Electoral Commission with

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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colleagues have been carrying out a series of investigations into this

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

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

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end of this process where people are calling into question the

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outcome. I hope the Scottish government well accept the

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

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

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

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

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

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matter for the Scottish government to bring forward their detailed

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proposals. I imagine the Electoral Commission will outline advice.

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Given that yesterday in front of the honourable gentleman from the

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Scottish Affairs Select Committee, the gentleman who gave it evidence

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

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separation campaign, what sanctions are there within government foray

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campaign which blatantly refuse to take the advice of the Electoral

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

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have always followed the advice of the Electoral Commission and I

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

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predecessors. The Secretary of State has just asserted once again

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

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

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receive its advice while his government have rejected the advice

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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committed to promoting United Kingdom businesses including

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

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

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

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

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to work with the Scottish government to ensure prompt payment

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

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

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committed to to ensuring that private sector suppliers are paid

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

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with the Scottish government or anybody else to make sure everyone

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

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there is no conflict between Scottish Development and elsewhere

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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work that is being undertaken here has an impact on Scottish

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

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attention to the Troubles Scottish businesses are currently

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experiencing close up unemployment is now higher in Scotland than in

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

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Scottish economy and Scottish businesses also up -- business is

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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taken out of tax altogether. Some colleagues from their Liberal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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referendum is based on the false premise that independence to be

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

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

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certainly agree with my honourable friend that Scotland is stronger as

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

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Primarily because we have access to this single market which takes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Scottish Government to make sure that the same disaster does not

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

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

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listen to their electoral commission and follow his advice, I

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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future? The honourable gentleman makes two important points. House

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senior international figures, when you look at their decision that

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

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

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

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many noisy conversations taking place, mainly on the opposition

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

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

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

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that an independent Scotland would gain automatic membership. What

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discussions has my right honourable friend held with the Scottish

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Government and discussing Scotland's stance on Natal, given

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

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

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

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

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

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and the Royal Navy. Will the Minister clarify whether of

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

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

:21:37.:21:47.
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many UK defence contractors benefit from contracts which are exclusive

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

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constituency in there is no guarantee that these contracts

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

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

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

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

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

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sit in government in Scotland where they cannot reconcile those two

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positions. The United Kingdom government has reduced the deficit

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

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and corporation tax, accelerating infrastructure projects and the

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funding for lending scheme are just some of the measures being

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implemented. Does the Secretary of State agree with a recent

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

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

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

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much stronger opportunity to continue as part of the United

:23:21.:23:31.
:23:31.:23:35.

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

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

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sale. -- in Aberdeenshire. honourable friend makes an

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important point. Clearly these had been very important months,

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

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

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

:24:11.:24:21.
:24:21.:24:21.

Hopefully we will sustain the jobs that run the company.

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constituency in Cambuslang have also been affected by a company

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ceasing operations in Scotland. Those 400 people are obviously very

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

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that their employees get a guarantee on their position as soon

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

:24:46.:24:51.

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

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

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

:25:09.:25:15.

broadband by 2015. The Scottish Government was allocated money to

:25:15.:25:23.

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

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

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

:25:32.:25:38.

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

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

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

:25:48.:25:58.
:25:58.:25:58.

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

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

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

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

:26:15.:26:24.

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

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

:26:30.:26:40.
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would be happy to discuss this issue. Does the Minister agree that

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

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airier rather than national area -- percentages. The Scottish

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

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it in his constituency and elsewhere.

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