22/02/2012 Scottish Questions


Coverage of Scottish Questions from Westminster.

Similar Content

Browse content similar to 22/02/2012. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!



Hello and a warm welcome from Westminster for the February


edition of Scottish questions. With all of the things that has been


going on, there is no lack of interest in Scottish politics at


Westminster. And a mixed bag of questions for Michael Moore, the


Scottish Secretary, on inquiries on the economy, training and benefits.


No prizes for guessing the topic MPs wanted to start on - those


talks on an independence referendum. Order, order, questions to the


Secretary of State for Scotland. With permission I will answer


questions 1, 8 and 10 together. The First Minister and I met on Monday


13th February to discuss a referendum on independence. The


Prime Minister, First Minister and I had a meeting on 16th February


when we discussed the need for any referendum to be legal, firm and


decisive. It is in everyone's interest both governments work


together. The Scottish Government of the most resolute defenders of


the Barnet formula are against the other nations of the United Kingdom.


At the beagle of Scotland vote yes in a referendum on independence, do


not think the Barnet formula should apply to the nation's debt? He I


don't envisage Scotland will become independent from the United Kingdom,


I think we are stronger together and weaker apart. But it does touch


on a fundamental issue about sorting out what the basis of that


independence might look like. Questions the SNP have failed to


answer. Will the Secretary of State confirm both his and the


Government's commitment to a single, none leading question in the


referendum on Scottish separation, just commit a simple yes or no


reply? The fundamental issue about independence and that is what we


must resolve. We must have a legal and decisive independence


referendum. Could he clarify whether he has had conversations


regarding Antarctica and whether it is true of the last Government


simply forgot to deal with Antarctica and the British


territory there? And what is his position in making sure we reserve


control of it? She highlights an important part of the world which


it is important that we as the UK Government have a role to play in.


Can I point out to her, through the Scotland Bill which is passing


through the Lordships House at the moment, we are delivering the


biggest transfer of powers to Edinburgh since the Act of Union.


We are tidying up some of the inconsistencies of the devolution


settlement. They met with the First Minister and the Prime Minister


offered a proposal for an enhanced devolution. But failed to spell out


what it might be. Can the Scottish Secretary tell us what he envisages


a package of devolved financial powers might look like? Would it


include corporation tax, income tax, and Riggott levee? What does the


Scottish Secretary think a package of enhanced devolved powers might


look like? It is incredible the SNP want to stand up and ask a question


about further devolution, when they have not set out what the


fundamental principles of independence might be. New think


they would have had some clear ideas on it. It is a constructive


answer because it failed to answer the question entirely. There is no


detail about what the Prime Minister proposed. Is that because


there is no detail? Is it because it was there to capture a day's


headlines? Or is it to cover their embarrassment -- cover the


embarrassment of this Government which did not cover in the debate


in the Commons last year? He has a bit of itchy talking about a lack


of detail when they cannot spell out what the current situation


would be in an independent Scotland, what the national debt and might


look like, how we do with pensions, financial regulation? We must make


the most fundamental decision in Scotland's future in a clear cut


and decisive way. The debate about devolution will be ongoing and I am


looking forward to being part of that. My Right Honourable Friend


has spelt out the absence of detailed from members of the


Scottish National Party in this house. I wonder in the


opportunities he has had, has he impressed upon the First Minister,


his unequivocal obligation to explain to the people of Scotland,


not just the process of independence, but the consequences


of it, the costs of it and the length of time it would take to


implement? He highlights some very important central issues about this


debate over independence. I believe Scotland is stronger as part of the


United Kingdom and United Kingdom is strong because Scotland is part


of it. From financial issues, our place in the world on the strength


of our defence. There are unanswered questions from the SNP,


which they must address. This is a question about the number


of 16 to 24 year-olds not in education.


The number of 16 to 19 year olds are estimated to be not in


education, employment or training in Scotland in 2010 was 36,000.


I say to the Secretary of State, because there is another important


element to the question I asked, it is up to 24 year-olds. These are


the hardest hit and we don't want to see that lost generation. In


rural localities like his and mind, policies to get young people back


into work will depend as far as the private sector is concerned, on


small and medium-sized enterprises. These businesses are suffering


severely and the pressure upon them is not enabling them to create jobs.


Does he understand we meet Task Force Tiger mentality to deal with


youth and young people unemployment? What can I say, the


statistics of to 24 is something my officials are working on. They are


not published, but I look forward to getting the data for him and


other members in the house. On the fundamentals of the economy, I


agree with him we need small and medium-sized businesses to be given


the ability to grow and that is why we are putting pressure on the


banks to lend to them. And also for the young people we are dealing


with, a sure we support them. That is why the use contract is


fundamental. A billion pounds to make sure people get more places


and work experience to help employers to take people on. It is


a kind of action that will help people get on to the jobs market.


He rightly mentions the use contract which comes into effect in


April. Does he agree it is imperative the Scottish Government,


the British Government and employers in Scotland work together


to ensure young people get the opportunities and are not


distracted by scoring points against each other but work


together for young people? I agree with him and I would point out


working with members across this house, over the last six to eight


months I have held meetings and seminars around Scotland, focused


on youth unemployment, bringing together employers, young people,


Scottish Government agencies and UK Government agencies. In March in


Dundee we will have a national convention with the Secretary of


State for work and pensions and John Swinney, so we can take this


agenda forward together. I don't think anyone in this house is


complacent about youth unemployment and the plight of young people


trying to find work in trying economic circumstances. I welcome


the joint initiative of the National Convention taking place in


March next month, but can I press the Secretary of State on what


outcomes he expects from that convention? And if he will welcome


the initiative the Scottish Government has taken to ensure a


place for every young people aged 16 to 19 in Scotland in work or


training or education? It is absolutely right, Scotland's two


Government's work together on this terrible problem which existed


under the last Government and continues. We are addressing their


using everything we can to help young people get experience,


training and get jobs. We will work hard on all of those and at others


wish to work with us, we will welcome that. Can the Secretary of


State tell the House how many young Scots have lost their jobs since he


was appointed to his in a 2010? should remember the economic mess


that we inherited from the Labour Government. Since then we are


fixing the deficit, seeking to rebalance the economy and to ensure


we have sustainable growth. The youth contract, work experience and


all of the support we are giving is vital to ensure we get a young


people back into the workplace. notice the Secretary of State


struggled with that answer somewhat! There is one statistic he


should be familiar with. Since his Government's scrapped the future


jobs fund, 23,000 jobs have been lost in Scotland. That is over 400


jobs every week for young people, whilst he has become the Tory's man


in Scotland. We are in the midst of the youth unemployment crisis and


the Secretary of State for Scotland has been posted missing. In


contrast, Labour took direct action Truda futures jobs then, delivering


over 10,000 real jobs for young people in Scotland. Can the


Secretary of State tell us what plans he has, any ideas at all


about how to take direct effective action to tackle youth unemployment


in Scotland? As ever, she wishes to leave behind have a horrible mess


her Government left for us to fix. She cannot escape that reality, or


the fact youth unemployment rose under Labour. We are investing �1


billion in the use contract, which will enhance the number of work-


experience places, provide additional support for employers


taking on young people and has provided the Scottish Government


with additional resources. I have been working with colleagues and


others to do everything we can to tackle this terrible problem.


This is a question about human trafficking into Scotland.


The Government's is inquiring into human trafficking in Scotland in


line with the ongoing implementation of the Schumann


trafficking strategy we've launched in July 2011. -- human trafficking


strategy. He will have seen the main


recommendation a new human trafficking Bill for Scotland. It


would solve the problem of implementing what we have signed up


to in the EU, if we did it across the UK. Can I remind him and other


interested parties to come to the all-party meeting next Monday in


rooms seven and maybe take some advice? Mr Speaker, if I am


available I will be delighted to attend. Does he agreed that the


field of human trafficking were cut ordination between involved


agencies is so critical if we are to provide real solutions is


another policy best tackled at UK level? I agreed, the UK is able to


bring great weight on behalf of Scotland to this issue. It is also


an issue where we have been able to work with the Scottish Government,


demonstrating that the two governments on issues of great


importance can work together on a day-to-day basis.


This is a question about credit ratings in Scotland.


This Government has taken the hall Hardy United Kingdom benefits of


record low interest rates. What estimates has the Secretary of


State made of the extra debt interests that would have to be


paid by an independent Scotland were it not to benefit from a


triple A rating? He raises an important point about how an


independent Scotland would fare he and they are issues about the track


records of the Government, the pension arrangements, national debt


and so much more they need to take into account. It is in the gift of


the Scottish Government if it wishes to ask for a draft of what


it might look like, so far they have not done so. What analysis has


the Government under taken into the impact of a low credit rating in my


constituency and more widely in Lanarkshire in the event of


Scotland's celebrate -- separating from the rest of the United


Kingdom? I recognise the challenges that face his constituents and


those of so many in Lanarkshire and elsewhere. I stick to a basic


belief that a manager and Scotland are better as part of the United


Kingdom, much stronger than they would be if we went our separate


Will he emphasised to the First Minister of Scotland that the


uncertainty caused by the referendum is causing a growing


number of companies to pause their investment decisions until they get


clarity as to which direction Scotland is going to travel?


honourable friend is going to the issue of when the debate takes


place. She we should get on and do this. We should have this decision


about Scotland's place in the UK sooner rather than later. I cannot


understand why we should have the weight the best part of three years,


with all the economic uncertainty generated, until we get that


decision. Does the Secretary of State not understand that it isn't


the credit rating score but the cost of servicing government debt


that matters? Japan has a much higher net debt and its score pays


less interest on government bonds in the UK. It is your that counts


and not the triple-A rating. Would he now stop this ridiculous


scaremongering? With the honourable gentleman seriously suggesting that


the triple-A status has no bearing on the interest rates we pay? He's


got to wake up and make sure they answer some of the fundamental


questions that are at the heart of this debate and which they are so


far ducking. STUDIO: This is questions about


plans for a benefit cap in Scotland. I think he is seeking to group this


question with numbered well. seek to answer this question with


number 12. The chairman of the work and pensions Select Committee, who


is a regular attender at Scottish Questions, has suffered a fall. I'm


sure we all wish her well in her recovery. My right honourable


friend the Secretary of State for Scotland and I are in contact with


ministers in the Department for Work and Pensions on a range of


issues concerning welfare reform. Is it not clear that if the


nationalist government in Scotland have control of welfare policy


they'd be no benefits cap in Scotland, despite widespread public


support? I think what is clear is that the Scottish National Party


make a proposition for independence without explaining to people how


benefits at current levels would be paid in the future and where that


With the average income in Scotland being �419 per week, does the


Minister not agree with me that a benefit cap of �500 a week is a


reasonable and sensible level? agree that this is a reasonable and


fair measure. Constituents in constituencies like mine cannot


understand how the party opposite and the nationalists are promoting


that the benefit cap should be higher than �35,000. Is not the


truth on the benefit cap that the household of �418 that was quoted


by the previous question that, if they had six children, like my


constituents have, those children have to be cared for. They would


also receive child benefit. So the comparison being given is not fair.


What is going to happen when the discretionary housing payments


actually run out? What I think the honourable lady should do is to


listen to her honourable friend from Leeds West, when she says that


if Labour are to be taken seriously on any issue, they have to pass the


test of fiscal credibility. On this issue that is a very relevant point.


The honourable gentleman will not be aware that I have the highest


percentage of single women in any constituency in the country. What


is he doing to help these women? This is not a joke, it is serious.


There are single women in this country who are struggling. What is


his party going to do to help them? What this government is doing is


tidying up the mess which his government left, which has placed a


single women and lots of other people in a perilous financial


position. STUDIO: This is a question about public expenditure


for Helensburgh. It shows that the level of public expenditure in


Scotland was �10,165 per head for 2010 to 2011. Last week at the


breakfast table, my wife and I were talking about public expenditure in


Scotland. When suddenly Korolev and-year-old son, Thomas, asked, is


Alex Salmond a goodie or a baddie? -- when suddenly hour 11-year-old


As ever, the goings-on at his house sold breakfast table are a thing of


national interest. We look forward to further updates in due course.


When his son get the chance to meet with the First Minister, he will be


delighted by the conversation he has. But the important point is he


should know that he wants to get England separate from Scotland, we


don't. The Secretary of State will know that not one ounce of UK Steel


has been used to build a new Forth Road Bridge. Isn't it shameful that


29,000 tonnes of steel can be shipped 12,500 miles from Shanghai,


but not 33 miles from Lanarkshire? The honourable gentleman's


commitment in Lanarkshire and the steel industry is well known. As


his anger is understood. It is a matter that was devolved to the


Scottish government and it is for them to answer. In welcoming the


additional per capita expenditure represented by the �100 million


investment in the sleeper services, would the Secretary of State agree


that this is a good example for the Westminster and Hollywood


government's to work together, more effective at -- than it is working


separately, and what he sees the opportunity to call in the likes of


Richard Branson, Pete Waterman and others with entrepreneurial skills


to CBE can re-establish Motorail services now that the sleeper


services are secured? My right honourable friend is right to


highlight the important investment we have committed to the sleeper


services, for which she has been an undoubted champion over a long


period of time. He is right to stress that we need to look at


innovative ways to develop those services. I look forward to


discussing his idea further. Speaker, as at 3rd April 2011, in


Scotland there were 4800 in work families benefiting from the


severely disabled child aliment and with child tax credit above the


family limit. There are 5000 severely disabled children in these


families. The Prime Minister has told this house on 14th December


and again on 25th January that his government will not be cutting


benefits for disabled children. Given that almost 8000 children in


Scotland will be losing �1,400 a year with the child tax credit


changes, does the Minister agree with me that the Prime Minister is


playing ball and clearly does not understand his own policy? What I


agree with is the fact that the government is not making any


savings at all from these changes. Savings from abolishing the adult


disability premiums and changes in the child rate will not return to


the Exchequer. The savings will be recycled into higher payments for


more to see -- for more severely disabled people. There are far too


many noisy, private conversations Would the Minister agree with me,


and with my constituents, that in matters of disability payments for


the sea -- for severely disabled children and all other payments


from taxpayers' money for people who are most in need throughout our


country, we are better raising money together and working together


as one United Kingdom. The severe disability premium and all other


benefits are clearly set out by the United Kingdom government. The


Scottish National Party have failed to set out how we single benefit in


Scotland would be paid for post independence, if it was ever


achieved. STUDIO: This is a defence related question.


I spoke to the Parliamentary Under- Secretary of State for Defence on


this issue. As was confirmed on Monday, there are no current plans


to change the status of Defence munitions beat. There is a need to


maintain beef until the torpedo has been converted to a single fuel


system, when the need for specialist facilities may lack. The


conversion programme is expected to be completed around 2018. It is one


of the largest employers in North Ayrshire. It is wholly dependent on


Ministry of Defence contracts. Would he ensure there is a


ministerial visit from the Scotland Office to the facility, to find out


about more that is the mayor with a view to ongoing representations for


future contracts to the Ministry of Defence? I am pleased to be able to


confirm that the Secretary of State for Scotland will be pleased to


visit that facility. STUDIO: This is another question


about the financial consequences of independence.


I will answer questions 11 and 15 together. The Scottish government,


but the Scottish Government has failed to set out what independence


would mean for Scotland. This government is clear that Scotland


is stronger for being part of the UK, and the UK is stronger for


having Scotland within it. Does my right honourable friend agree with


me that instead of Scottish politicians focusing on


independence, that they should look in these difficult economic times


to stop depending on one industry in the North Sea and instead


looking to create a broader industry sector that will look for


economic support for the rest of Scotland? She is right. Our primary


concern has to be to ensure we get the economy on the right track. By


fixing the deficit, by rebalancing the economy and making sure of


sustainable growth then we will do that. We should be getting on and


resolving this issue of independence so we can remove the


uncertainty it causes. Order, still far too much noise. Mr John


Would the Minister agree that in the areas along the border between


Scotland and England, there would be many and necessary financial and


regular -- regulatory costs to both sides of the border, and in extreme


cases they could be problems with border control. I'm not


contemplating Scotland becoming independent. I am confident


Scotland will vote to stay within the UK. But there is a central


issue. If we were to become separate, some of the issues


surrounding Europe, including the Borders issue, I think the issues


are absurd as he does. Has the Secretary of State consider the


recent study by the National Institute of Economic and Social


Research? Even informing the sterling so with the UK, a separate


Scotland would experience volatile public finances, inherent debt at


either 70 to 80 % of GDP and face tougher constraints on levels of


tax and borrowing than being an equal participant in fiscal union


with the UK. I have study the report and the honourable gentleman


puts his conclusions succinctly. These are. The SNP have failed to


answer. STUDIO: That is all we've got time for. Because of the Easter


break, the next Scottish Questions is and now for nearly two months.


Download Subtitles