22/06/2011 Scottish Questions


22/06/2011

Highlights of Scottish Questions from Westminster.


Similar Content

Browse content similar to 22/06/2011. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!

Transcript


LineFromTo

Hello and a warm welcome to Westminster for the June edition of

:00:23.:00:27.

the Scottish questions. What a difference a few weeks makes. The

:00:27.:00:31.

last programme came the day before the Hollyrood elections which gave

:00:31.:00:36.

the SNP an overall majority and now we have the commitment to an

:00:36.:00:40.

independence referendum within the next five years. So no shortage of

:00:40.:00:44.

topics for MPs to get their teeth into. Here is a flavour of how

:00:44.:00:50.

things began... Questions to the Secretary of State for Scotland, Mr

:00:50.:00:56.

Graham Morris. Question number one. I have regular discussions with my

:00:57.:00:59.

right honourable friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer on a

:00:59.:01:03.

wide range of issues including the state of the economy. Inflation is

:01:03.:01:07.

being pushed higher by rising global commodity prices, a global

:01:07.:01:13.

problem that requires global solutions. I thank the Minister for

:01:13.:01:19.

his answers. It is clear the government's VAT hike in January

:01:19.:01:24.

has helped to drive up inflation which is hitting consumer spending,

:01:24.:01:26.

squeezing family incomes and holding back growth. Will the

:01:26.:01:31.

Secretary of State now speak up for families and businesses in Scotland

:01:31.:01:34.

and urge the Chancellor to reverse that rise to help boost consumer

:01:35.:01:40.

confidence and bring down inflation? As the honourable member

:01:40.:01:44.

knows the former Chancellor and Scottish MP the right honourable

:01:44.:01:48.

member for Edinburgh South said he would have done exactly the same in

:01:48.:01:53.

relation to VAT. And a cut in VAT would do nothing to reverse global

:01:53.:01:57.

commodity price rises but we do a lot to reverse the government's

:01:57.:02:01.

hard-won credibility for getting the deficit down. Credibility on

:02:01.:02:08.

economic matters does not seem to be important to the party opposite.

:02:08.:02:11.

In answer to a written parliamentary questions by me the

:02:11.:02:15.

Office for National Statistics confirmed that four out of the last

:02:15.:02:18.

five years the rise in domestic gas prices outstripped the rate of

:02:18.:02:22.

inflation and that is before the latest rise. Yet family income is

:02:22.:02:26.

about best remain static. What steps can the government take to

:02:26.:02:35.

help hard-pressed families to avoid these costs in the winter? As the

:02:35.:02:39.

honourable member will know the government is concerned about the

:02:39.:02:45.

rise of fuel prices, particularly gas prices as he highlights. One of

:02:45.:02:51.

the measures it has taken is to ensure that the poorest families do

:02:51.:02:58.

have protection a relation to their fuel costs. I am sure the Minister

:02:58.:03:03.

will welcome the inquiry announced today but Ofgem on the price rise

:03:03.:03:07.

to be announced by ScottishPower and the way they have announced it

:03:07.:03:11.

to consumers. Does he agree with me that it is inappropriate for energy

:03:11.:03:14.

companies do have added to the increased cost of living in

:03:14.:03:18.

Scotland with a decision to hike domestic bills and can he tell us

:03:18.:03:25.

what he is doing about it? As the honourable lady knows there is

:03:25.:03:30.

widespread concern in Scotland at the actions, particularly in

:03:30.:03:39.

relation to the recent rises in fuel costs by ScottishPower. As the

:03:39.:03:42.

honourable lady knows the Secretary of State and I have raised these

:03:42.:03:48.

issues with the energy companies. Although it is very nice to meet up

:03:48.:03:52.

I think what Scottish consumers want it action as their bills are

:03:52.:03:57.

facing a rise an average of �198 a year when wages are being frozen

:03:57.:04:04.

cod prices are rising above the target inflation rate and now that

:04:04.:04:08.

borrowing is �46 billion higher unexpected because of that decrease

:04:08.:04:12.

in economic activity, would the Minister now greet his time for

:04:12.:04:17.

another plan and a temporary cut in VAT which Labour called for?

:04:17.:04:22.

will not surprise the honourable lady to say that most certainly not.

:04:22.:04:27.

The honourable lady, in setting it out -- in setting out the woes she

:04:27.:04:33.

does, never acknowledges her part as a minister in bringing this

:04:33.:04:41.

country to the verge of bankruptcy, or a party's part. Or the need to

:04:41.:04:46.

take action, she knows as well that the shadow chancellor is in a

:04:46.:04:50.

majority of one in terms of his proposals and has not set out...

:04:50.:04:58.

must move on. This was a question about the benefits of the union

:04:58.:05:02.

from the Tory MP for Carlisle. There are government formally

:05:02.:05:05.

believes - Matt Ridley Scott and benefits from being part of the UK

:05:05.:05:12.

and that the UK benefits from having Scotland within it. I agree

:05:12.:05:18.

wholeheartedly. As someone who represents a seat just over the

:05:18.:05:21.

border in England would the Minister also agree that England

:05:21.:05:27.

benefits from being part of the Union and it is in the interests of

:05:27.:05:31.

all of us that we all remain part of the UK? I endorse what my

:05:31.:05:38.

honourable friend has just said. The union is of great benefit to

:05:38.:05:41.

all of the UK, however, my constituents still want to see

:05:41.:05:44.

fairness between Scotland and England. With this in mind what

:05:44.:05:48.

plans as the Minister had to review the current Barnett Formula? Grey M

:05:48.:05:56.

Evans is the Tory MP for Weaver Vale. Last night we recognised this

:05:56.:05:59.

was an issue across the UK, however, we are committed to reviewing it

:05:59.:06:03.

when we have resolved at the current financial problems we

:06:03.:06:09.

inherited from the party opposite. Is that a separate Scotland simply

:06:09.:06:13.

would not have been able to answer by the global banking crisis on its

:06:13.:06:17.

own and had it been separate would now be heading the way of Ireland

:06:17.:06:27.
:06:27.:06:27.

The scale of the financial disaster that befell the Royal Bank of

:06:27.:06:32.

Scotland and Halifax Bank of Scotland would have put a crippling

:06:32.:06:36.

burden on Scotland by being part of the UK. We are sharing the risks

:06:36.:06:42.

and recovery and that is the right way forward. Does the Secretary of

:06:42.:06:47.

State agree with me that whilst the future of the Constitution is hotly

:06:47.:06:52.

debated there is no place for leading Unionists to describe the

:06:52.:06:59.

supporters of Scottish independence as neo-fascists? It is incumbent

:06:59.:07:03.

upon all of us in this debate to ensure we use moderate appropriate

:07:03.:07:09.

language. Given what the Secretary of State has just said is it a

:07:09.:07:13.

benefit to the union and Scotland that the House of Commons Scottish

:07:13.:07:16.

affairs select committee is chaired by somebody who last night

:07:16.:07:22.

described Scotland's majority party of government as neo-fascist?

:07:22.:07:27.

is an issue he should take up with the honourable gentleman himself.

:07:27.:07:33.

In this House we do not like challenges to one another's on a,

:07:33.:07:38.

or otherwise. It is a matter for the honourable gentleman to raise.

:07:38.:07:42.

I have made my commission -- position clear. It is important we

:07:42.:07:45.

are careful about language and we have a debate on the substance of

:07:45.:07:55.

the issues. I will answer question three and five together with

:07:55.:07:58.

permission. My right honourable friend the Secretary of State and I

:07:58.:08:00.

have had regular discussions with my right honourable friend the

:08:00.:08:03.

debited from in astonishes. The government is committed to

:08:03.:08:06.

establishing they Commission later this year to consider the West

:08:06.:08:13.

Lothian question. Time is of the essence here because this is a

:08:13.:08:17.

difficult question. The commission will need time to consider its

:08:17.:08:21.

recommendations and then this House will need time to consider the

:08:21.:08:24.

outcome of those recommendations. It would be much better that this

:08:24.:08:27.

is done at a time of constitutional peace rather than at a time of

:08:27.:08:34.

crisis. I respect the honourable lady's passion on the subject and

:08:34.:08:39.

she has a Bill before the House was charters on these issues which I

:08:39.:08:44.

understand will be heard on the first Friday of the September sit-

:08:44.:08:48.

in which will give the House eight chance to debate these issues. I

:08:48.:08:52.

will convey her call for urgency to the debited Prime Minister. Having

:08:53.:08:57.

passed the Scotland Bill and with new powers devolved to Wales does

:08:57.:09:02.

my honourable friend agree that the last thing we want is another

:09:02.:09:06.

expensive Parliament Assembly, or talking shop in England? The

:09:06.:09:12.

British Parliament here can cope with matters than with -- with

:09:12.:09:19.

English matters but decided by English MPs. I have always

:09:19.:09:25.

expressed the view that there was no desire for an English parliament

:09:25.:09:29.

and the same two be but always written to me after two so I was

:09:29.:09:36.

wrong. -- people have always written to me after to say I was

:09:36.:09:40.

wrong. Does he agree the issue is more complex than some members give

:09:40.:09:45.

to understand and a good example of that was the debates we had before

:09:45.:09:48.

Christmas on tuition fees for universities. That might have been

:09:48.:09:51.

regarded as a purely English issue but in fact it had tremendous

:09:51.:09:58.

consequences for Scotland. I do acknowledge that comment, it is a

:09:58.:10:01.

complex issue and that is why the coalition government is committed

:10:01.:10:06.

to establishing a commission to look at the issue and I hope it

:10:06.:10:13.

will be able to take evidence from people like the honourable lady.

:10:13.:10:16.

am sure the honourable gentleman is right when he says there is no

:10:16.:10:20.

demand for an English parliament but does he not accept that the

:10:20.:10:27.

proposal to it effectively have two classes of MPs in his house does

:10:27.:10:32.

amount to setting up an English parliament in this building and

:10:32.:10:35.

that is a road he will go down if his government except having two

:10:35.:10:41.

classes of MPs in his house. I do not acknowledge that. Because the

:10:42.:10:47.

devolution settlement -- that comment because the devolution

:10:47.:10:50.

settlement means there are different spot it --

:10:50.:10:54.

responsibilities in this House. The government is committed to looking

:10:54.:10:57.

at the issue of the West Lothian question which is based at standard

:10:57.:11:01.

issue which the previous government ignored and will set up a

:11:01.:11:11.
:11:11.:11:13.

With permission I will answer the questions together. The plan for

:11:13.:11:17.

growth published in the March Budget set at Ibrahim Mogra forms

:11:17.:11:20.

to create the right conditions for private sector-led growth. This

:11:20.:11:23.

month the government launched the next stage of the growth of the

:11:23.:11:26.

with the central purpose of creating the right conditions for

:11:26.:11:31.

business to be established to invest, grow and create jobs.

:11:31.:11:34.

time when the Treasury is bringing about stability to the banking

:11:34.:11:37.

sector and banking regulation does my right honourable friend agree

:11:37.:11:41.

with me that the SNP's right for independent Scotland could

:11:41.:11:51.
:11:51.:11:57.

destabilise gone and Oz are The number of questions and the

:11:57.:12:01.

timing is uncertainty which is no good for the Scottish economy.

:12:01.:12:04.

Small and medium-sized companies are vital engines of growth and

:12:04.:12:08.

also job-creation in Scotland and across the UK. In the economic

:12:08.:12:13.

climate improving access to funding for those is a priority. Can my

:12:13.:12:16.

right honourable friend tell the House was at sea is taking to

:12:16.:12:19.

address this challenge and do those steps include working with

:12:19.:12:25.

organisations like the Federation for small businesses in Scotland?

:12:25.:12:29.

The Conservative MP for Macclesfield.

:12:29.:12:34.

Access to Finance is a critical issue and unless we get another

:12:34.:12:37.

lending to small and medium-sized businesses we will not get the

:12:37.:12:41.

economy growing once again. That is why it is central to the plan for

:12:41.:12:45.

growth to make sure we create the conditions in which we can see

:12:45.:12:49.

businesses start, grow and invest in the appropriate way. And why we

:12:49.:12:59.
:12:59.:13:00.

have set out tough targets for Way to the Secretary of State agree

:13:00.:13:04.

that it is essential for business growth that businesses have access

:13:04.:13:09.

to faster broadband? Dotty to share my concern that many constituencies

:13:09.:13:12.

in Scotland do not have access to this, and can he say what

:13:12.:13:17.

discussions he has had with the Scottish Government over this?

:13:17.:13:21.

week or so ago when I met the honourable lady to discuss the

:13:21.:13:24.

situation with the economy in Ayrshire, this was one of the key

:13:24.:13:29.

issues she wanted to raise. We are committed to fast broadband across

:13:29.:13:32.

the United Kingdom, and we're in discussions with the Scottish

:13:32.:13:36.

Government about how they should go about implementing that. It is

:13:36.:13:40.

vital that we see it in M and the Borders and all parts of the

:13:40.:13:44.

country, and we're happy to work with her to make sure we achieve

:13:44.:13:50.

that. Has the Secretary of State had an opportunity to read the

:13:50.:13:54.

government expenditure and revenue study published this morning, which

:13:54.:13:57.

shows that the Scottish economy is outperforming the UK economy and

:13:57.:14:01.

carrying a lower deficit? Will he take this opportunity to

:14:01.:14:04.

congratulate the Scottish Government on its efforts to

:14:04.:14:09.

promote stability pride promoting economic growth. Us that is a

:14:09.:14:12.

typically interesting interpretation of the figures in

:14:12.:14:17.

the report this morning, which show that Scotland is running at a

:14:17.:14:21.

deficit. That highlights the volatility and the difficulties

:14:21.:14:25.

that are associated with the different measures. Can I say that

:14:25.:14:29.

it is absolutely vital that we get Scotland's economy back on the

:14:29.:14:34.

right that in. That is why we are cutting corporation tax, keeping

:14:34.:14:38.

interest rates low, reducing the burden on national insurance. I am

:14:39.:14:42.

happy to work with the Scottish Government to ensure the economy

:14:42.:14:49.

grows. We need to work in partnership. This is a question

:14:49.:14:59.
:14:59.:14:59.

about the Greenock coastguard station. I want to pay tribute to

:14:59.:15:03.

David Cairns who had been campaigning to save the Clyde

:15:03.:15:09.

coastguard station before his tragic death. The waters around

:15:09.:15:15.

Argyll and Bute presents a unique challenges seafarers. And if the

:15:15.:15:19.

Clyde coastguard station is closed, all that valuable local knowledge

:15:19.:15:23.

held by the people who work there will be lost. Will the Minister

:15:23.:15:27.

please drop his to the attention of the Transport Secretary and urge

:15:27.:15:32.

him to keep the station opened? is appropriate there is mention of

:15:32.:15:38.

David Cairns at this first Scottish Questions since his death, having

:15:38.:15:43.

served with such distinction as a Scotland Office minister. I can

:15:43.:15:46.

assure my honourable friend that the points he made will have been

:15:46.:15:51.

heard, as they were in the recent Westminster Hall debate that he

:15:51.:15:55.

took part in, and the Department of Transport will not make any

:15:55.:15:59.

announcement on the future of Coastguard stations until the

:15:59.:16:04.

transport select committee has reported. I would like to associate

:16:04.:16:09.

myself with the comments regarding David Cairns. The Minister would be

:16:09.:16:13.

aware of the concern in Scotland about what it is it at -- he

:16:13.:16:19.

actually does. Could I offer him the opportunity to LA that concern

:16:19.:16:24.

by making, in a very clear and unambiguous way, his opposition to

:16:24.:16:30.

his government's plans to close the coastguard centre in Greenock. Will

:16:30.:16:37.

he stand up for Scotland now in regard to Greenock? As he knows,

:16:37.:16:41.

the Scotland offers always makes the case for Scotland and poor

:16:41.:16:45.

facilities and resources within Scotland. I very much welcome the

:16:45.:16:49.

approach of my colleagues in the Department of Transport, saying

:16:49.:16:52.

that they will listen to all the representations that are made,

:16:52.:16:57.

having carried out a consultation and awaiting the report of the

:16:57.:17:03.

Transport Select Committee. Clyde Coast Guard is important on the

:17:03.:17:09.

west coast, and as a West Coast MP I believe we have already suffered

:17:09.:17:16.

enough on this. Does he agree that we need Stornoway, Shetland and the

:17:16.:17:23.

Clyde as an insurance policy? characterise the honourable member

:17:23.:17:28.

as a doughty fighter for the station in Stornoway. He has made

:17:28.:17:32.

very significant representations, and they have been heard, and my

:17:33.:17:36.

colleagues in the Department of Transport will announce their

:17:36.:17:38.

conclusion after the Transport Select Committee has delivered its

:17:38.:17:48.
:17:48.:17:53.

report. The Scottish Government included to the devolution of

:17:53.:17:57.

corporation tax within his requests for the amendment of the devolution

:17:57.:18:05.

Bills. On the same day, the Business Secretary said that the

:18:05.:18:09.

logic of devolving corporation tax was irresistible. He then said that

:18:09.:18:15.

he fully supported the government's position in opposing it. Is not the

:18:15.:18:18.

Business Secretary at bit of an embarrassment bows to the

:18:18.:18:21.

government and to Scottish Business? And is it not about time

:18:21.:18:25.

that he starts speaking to the Secretary of State of Scotland

:18:25.:18:30.

about important matters like corporation tax? For I can assure

:18:30.:18:40.

him that the Business Secretary and I are at one on this issue. This is

:18:40.:18:50.

a question about discussions with the agriculture industry. We

:18:50.:18:53.

regularly discussed devolution issues as part of the Scotland Bill,

:18:53.:18:56.

which is delivering the government's commitment to settle

:18:57.:19:03.

in -- strengthening the devolution settlement. I thank him for that

:19:03.:19:08.

response. He will no doubt be acutely aware of how important

:19:08.:19:11.

reform of the Common Agricultural Policy is, to farming in Scotland

:19:11.:19:16.

and elsewhere in the UK. Given the importance of the industry to the

:19:16.:19:21.

economy, does he agree with me that it is essential we secure a deal

:19:21.:19:28.

that is fairer and more transparent for our farmers? He gave an answer

:19:28.:19:33.

to a different question, and the Speaker is now telling us that.

:19:34.:19:40.

Just to clarify that. Thank you Mr Speaker, I can advise the

:19:40.:19:45.

honourable lady that that my right honourable friend the Secretary of

:19:45.:19:48.

State for Scotland was in Brussels last week and was making the very

:19:48.:19:58.
:19:58.:20:02.

point that she has made in her questions. I could referred the

:20:02.:20:09.

honourable lady to my previous answers. I am most grateful as ever

:20:09.:20:14.

to my honourable friend. Has the Advocate-General had time, have

:20:14.:20:19.

they received an update on progress being made by the expert group set

:20:19.:20:25.

up by the Scottish Government looking at the role of the UK

:20:25.:20:31.

Supreme Court? The Advocate-General wrote to the chair of the Scottish

:20:31.:20:35.

Government's expert group offering to meet with them, but now has

:20:35.:20:40.

received a response saying that their timetable means they have not

:20:40.:20:43.

had time in the first instance to receive submissions or hear

:20:43.:20:49.

evidence. So what we appear to have his and you expert group set up by

:20:49.:20:53.

the First Minister one week, which meets the following week, no

:20:53.:21:00.

evidence taking in any week, and reports the next week. That is a

:21:00.:21:05.

disappointing response. Will the government has start supporting the

:21:05.:21:15.
:21:15.:21:16.

integrity and independence of Scots Lough? -- Scots Law. I would have

:21:16.:21:23.

hoped Mr Speaker that the honourable gentle man, like his

:21:23.:21:27.

colleague, it would have sought to disassociate himself from the

:21:27.:21:32.

appalling comments which the First Minister has made about Lord Hope,

:21:32.:21:40.

which had been described as foolish as juvenile. There are too many

:21:40.:21:47.

private conversations taking place here. It is discourteous. What

:21:47.:21:52.

possible confidence can we have in the findings of a group which is

:21:52.:21:55.

unwilling to meet the Advocate- General, who last year established

:21:55.:22:00.

an inquiry for precisely the same purpose as this group has been

:22:00.:22:07.

established? He makes an extremely good point, as I said in my initial

:22:07.:22:13.

response, it seems incredible that a great set up to look at this very

:22:13.:22:18.

complicated issue is not going to take evidence, not going to receive

:22:18.:22:23.

submissions. I'm pleased to say that the Lord Advocate -- the

:22:23.:22:27.

Advocate-General has made his information available to the grave.

:22:27.:22:35.

So that may give us some confidence in the report he produces.

:22:35.:22:39.

White Paper set out a strategy for creating opportunities and

:22:39.:22:42.

providing the conditions for private sector growth through trade

:22:42.:22:48.

and international investment. The Minister for trade and investment

:22:48.:22:55.

is visiting Scotland in July. he share my fear that has got a

:22:55.:22:58.

should government's plans for a referendum on 7th -- separation

:22:58.:23:03.

will undermine its efforts to create jobs in Scotland? He is

:23:03.:23:07.

right to highlight what we are focusing on as a government. The

:23:07.:23:11.

plan for growth is 60 make us the most competitive tax system in the

:23:11.:23:16.

G20, to insure that we are the best place in Europe to start, grow

:23:16.:23:23.

Llansannan said business. -- and finance and business. None of that

:23:23.:23:28.

can be done in the and 70 which the independence referendums would

:23:28.:23:34.

create. Does he agree that the Olympics offer as splendid

:23:34.:23:38.

opportunities for promoting investment to Scotland? In that

:23:38.:23:46.

regard, is it not tragic that the talks will fly over John O'Groats?

:23:46.:23:51.

He makes his point as elegantly as I would expect him to. I'm sure

:23:51.:24:00.

those who are organising the trip will have heard his points.

:24:00.:24:04.

seminar I hosted in Arizona last month discussed how to tackle a

:24:04.:24:09.

high level of youth unemployment in M. The Scotland Office is working

:24:09.:24:13.

with key partners to focus resources on the most challenging

:24:13.:24:17.

areas identified at the seminar. We look forward to working with the

:24:18.:24:24.

government on this issue. One of the areas of major concern

:24:24.:24:31.

identified at a seminar was a high levels of unemployment fast amongst

:24:31.:24:36.

people between 16 and 18, of which seems to have slipped off the radar.

:24:37.:24:43.

He was present at that meeting and Mark that as a very important point.

:24:43.:24:48.

What assessment has been made, and what is going to be done about that

:24:48.:24:55.

particular issue? I thank him for his participation in that seminar,

:24:55.:24:59.

the first in a series we will be holding to tackle what is a deep-

:24:59.:25:04.

rooted problem, not just in Ayrshire but elsewhere. It is one

:25:04.:25:08.

that has defied governments through the ages. He rightly points out

:25:08.:25:12.

that the Secretary of State was at that salmon are. If we continue to

:25:12.:25:15.

discuss the challenges faced by youth unemployment, and I'm happy

:25:15.:25:21.

to discuss it with him again in due course. As he knows, Ayrshire has

:25:21.:25:25.

some of the worst rates of unemployment and youth unemployment

:25:25.:25:31.

in Scotland. In 2007, Scotland had the highest levels of employment in

:25:31.:25:37.

Britain, it now has the lowest levels. What more can the

:25:37.:25:41.

Westminster government do to work with the Scottish Government to

:25:42.:25:47.

bring in concrete steps to address this problem? He I would make two

:25:47.:25:52.

observations. On the first of those, of course, we are at a stage now

:25:52.:25:56.

when we need to get the economy in a place where we can see sustained,

:25:56.:26:00.

balanced growth. In complete contrast to the situation we

:26:01.:26:05.

inherited from her government. On her second point, she is right to

:26:05.:26:08.

highlight the serious economic power is that the Scottish

:26:08.:26:14.

Government already have. And it is vitally important that we work

:26:14.:26:22.

together to ensure that we do the best for people across Scotland.

:26:22.:26:28.

the issue was raised in discussions between the Deputy Prime Minister

:26:28.:26:32.

and the Secretary of State for Scotland, and the First Minister,

:26:32.:26:36.

on 9th June. As announced by the Chancellor and the Secretary of

:26:36.:26:41.

State on 13th June, the government is bringing forward to 2011 the

:26:42.:26:50.

power for Scottish ministers to make repayments. As the Minister

:26:50.:26:56.

will be aware, there are teenagers game is about to take case in the

:26:56.:27:03.

UK. The force road rage is to be funded by the Treasury, the Mersey

:27:03.:27:08.

gateway interests should -- Cheshire to be funded by tolls. How

:27:08.:27:14.

can the Government justified that? The justification is devolution, it

:27:14.:27:19.

is a decision of the Scottish Government to proceed with the 4th

:27:19.:27:21.

road bridge replacement crossing on the basis that there will be no

:27:21.:27:28.

Download Subtitles

SRT

ASS