Business of the House

Deidre Brock Excerpts
Thursday 8th February 2024

(2 weeks, 3 days ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I call the SNP spokesperson.

Deidre Brock Portrait Deidre Brock (Edinburgh North and Leith) (SNP)
- Hansard - -

May I associate myself with the shadow Leader of the House’s comments about Brianna Ghey and her remarkable parents?

Last week, I asked the Leader of the House about the cost of the Tories’ secret and highly sensitive report to Cabinet on the state of the Union. Hansard records that not one word of her answer reflected my question—not one syllable. Instead, she read out to the Chamber a video script about bingo and made a joke about monkeys. The week before, I asked the Leader of the House about the Electoral Commission’s concerns over Tory voter ID plans. Again, there was not one word in Hansard about Tory voter ID—not a peep. Instead, she read her prepared script attacking the SNP. In fact, Hansard reveals that week after week, not only do my questions go unanswered, but they are completely ignored. Week after week, we get a clickbait video for her personal YouTube channel. Surely that behaviour demeans her office and disrespects this House. She is here to answer questions from Members.

Returning to that state of the Union report to Cabinet in July 2020, it aimed to undermine the Scottish Government and the Scottish independence cause, which were apparently a Tory top priority at the height of the pandemic. It came to light last week, and no wonder the Leader of the House’s Government wanted to keep it under wraps. It contains more grim news for any remaining supporters of the Union. My questions again are: how much did it cost taxpayers, what was its purpose, and what strategy was it asking the Cabinet to endorse? Do the Union strategy and operations committees still exist? While she is at it, I would be pleased to know the details of the “highly professional attack dogs”, as described by one journalist, who were employed around that time in an attempt to counter independence support. Unlike the Prime Minister, I am not a betting woman, but I would wager £1,000 that I will not get answers to those today, either.

I will be writing to the Leader of the House with all the questions she has ignored just this year for starters. My question today, though, just needs a simple yes or no, and I challenge her then to sit back down and resist the video script. Will she at the very least attempt to find answers to my questions when she receives them in writing, as she refuses to do so here? Can we have a debate on the role and function of the Leader of the House?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The hon. Lady can have a debate on the role and function of the Leader of the House every Thursday at approximately 10.30 am. I hope it is colleagues’ experience that when they ask me questions, I either furnish them with answers if it is about the business of the House or I follow up with Departments and write to them. I am afraid that, as Hansard will show, her questions to me and to various Departments are sometimes hard to fathom.

The hon. Lady asked me about a particular piece of polling. I can certainly write to the Cabinet Office, although she indicated that she may kindly save me the trouble; in that case, I will just send her letter to the Cabinet Office for it to respond to her. But it comes in a week when the Scottish Government’s own costs for polling have been exposed.

I hope that hon. Members disagree with the hon. Lady’s assessment that I demean my office, although that is high praise indeed from the Scottish National party—I think my party has some way to go before we reach 22 live police investigations. While it may be true that those who live in Labour areas are 40% more likely to be a victim of crime, I think SNP politicians are probably 40% more likely to be investigated for one.

Business of the House

Deidre Brock Excerpts
Thursday 1st February 2024

(3 weeks, 3 days ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Eleanor Laing Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Eleanor Laing)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I call the Scottish National party spokesperson.

Deidre Brock Portrait Deidre Brock (Edinburgh North and Leith) (SNP)
- Hansard - -

Meal do naidheachd, Madam Deputy Speaker.

We saw a softer side to the Leader of the House last week. “The Prime Minister is a great dad”, she loyally read out from No. 10’s script. “He gives a lot to charity”, she whispered. Then, right on cue, normal service resumed and she was thundering fury at the Scots for not voting Tory. She asked me a question that got quite a response in Scotland: “Why do you think us Tory ‘rotters’”—her word, not mine—“are so desperate to keep Scotland in the Union?” Why, indeed? It is generally though that Conservatives act in their own self-interest. Anyway, Scots have been totting up all the great things about being in the UK: the gift of Brexit making us poorer faster than even the worst forecasts predicted; 14 years of grinding, endless austerity; and a crippling debt burden of more than 100% of GDP, just for starters.

However, the Leader of the House is not alone in her desperation to keep Scotland lashed tight to Westminster. She will remember seeing a secret document presented to the Cabinet in July 2020 by her colleague the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities. The existence of that document was revealed at the covid inquiry this week. Finalised at the height of the pandemic, it was entitled “The State of the Union” and was a blatant attempt by her Government to politicise the pandemic and undermine the Scottish Government when trust in Government messaging was crucial. It asked the Cabinet to endorse some sort of strategy, most details of which sadly are missing from the inquiry’s version. It required polling, research and data analysis, all at a time when Scotland’s First Minister and Government were focused on and doing their damnedest to protect the people of Scotland.

No. 10 was slithering from one scandal to another. We know that a Union strategy committee and a Union operations committee were set up to mimic the strategy and operations committees that helped create the monster of Brexit. The right hon. Lady will agree that considerable resources were required, diverting cash and personnel from fighting the pandemic. It must be made clear to the public who funded that. Will she ask her colleagues to give a statement on the project, laying out why it was an appropriate use of governmental resources, what it did and what it is felt to have achieved—its key performance indicators, let us say—particularly given the times in which it was conceived? Finally, the Leader of the House will recall that the state of the Union report found, among many things, that 82% of young voters in Scotland want independence. Is she surprised?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The hon. Lady talks about normal service, and we have had normal service from the SNP this morning: the full bingo card of textbook, standard nationalist operating procedure. Failure to take responsibility for the things that it is responsible for: tick. Blame others: tick. Demonise opponents: tick. Distract from the indefensible things that we have found about this week: tick. A complete lack of self-awareness: tick.

Only the hon. Lady could come to this House and raise the issue of the covid inquiry this week. Perhaps she should have spent a little more time watching the evidence delivered by her own First Minister. We are having a covid inquiry and we did a lessons learned exercise because we want to ensure that this nation can be resilient in future and we want to learn the lessons. The hon. Lady’s party has been less than forthcoming on a similar ambition for its performance in Scotland. I would ask her to reflect on that. The only thing missing from the hon. Lady’s question is that she has somehow failed to accuse the UK Government of being responsible for an escaped macaque from the Highland zoo.

Business of the House

Deidre Brock Excerpts
Wednesday 31st January 2024

(3 weeks, 4 days ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My hon. Friend is right that there has been a tremendous amount of discussion of these issues on the Floor of the House. As the Secretary of State acknowledged earlier, the Standing Orders protect time for debate on statutory instruments to 90 minutes. I am sure that my hon. Friend knows how to apply for a debate on a particular topic, but the Standing Orders will protect the time tomorrow.

Deidre Brock Portrait Deidre Brock (Edinburgh North and Leith) (SNP)
- Hansard - -

There is little to add to this short statement, as there will be more discussion on this latest legislation tomorrow. I want to state on the record that I welcome the progress that has been made, particularly as a former Northern Ireland spokesperson. Of course, there is much to be done, so I send my sincerest best wishes to all those in the Assembly who, hopefully soon, will step up to their places and their great responsibilities to the people of Northern Ireland.

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank the hon. Lady for her support in this matter, and I very much welcome her party’s support, too.

Business of the House

Deidre Brock Excerpts
Thursday 25th January 2024

(1 month ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

That brings me to a slightly difficult problem. Bob Blackman is meant to be representing the Backbench Business Committee, to tell us about its business, but unfortunately he is not here, so I now call the spokesperson for the Scottish National party.

Deidre Brock Portrait Deidre Brock (Edinburgh North and Leith) (SNP)
- Hansard - -

I associate myself with the remarks about Holocaust Memorial Day. I ask the House to note that tonight is Burns night, when we celebrate the work of Scotland’s great national bard.

A new year, a new Tory civil war—just what the UK needs—with talk of doom loops, massacres and extinctions. If only Members of the Leader of the House’s party had listened to her the last time she wooed them for leadership. She warned them that if they voted for the former Chancellor as leader it would “murder the party”. I know that the Leader of the House is furiously busy with all her “Minister for clickbait” responsibilities—those anti-Scottish articles and sneering videos do not write themselves—but as her Government grind, punch-drunk and exhausted, to an election, should we not debate some of the key legacies of the last 14 years of Tory rule?

Where should we start? There are still the scandalously unresolved scandals, such as infected blood, the WASPI women—Women Against State Pension Inequality Campaign—and Post Office Horizon, to name a very few, but has the Leader of the House had time to reflect on recent comments from Sir Michael Marmot, professor of public health at University College London? He said that Britain in 2024 is starting to suffer from Victorian diseases again, and that

“Britain has become a poor country with a few rich people…it’s worse to be poor in Britain than in most other European countries…. Poor people in Britain have a lower income than Slovenia.”

Perhaps the Leader of the House will cast her eye over the latest Joseph Rowntree Foundation report, which says that more than one in five people were in poverty in 2021-22, with about 6 million in “very deep poverty” that same year. Has she not managed to look at that yet? That is unsurprising, as the Tories seem genuinely untroubled by poverty in the UK. My colleagues and I have asked them about it many times, but their eyes just glaze over—comfortable, I guess, with the choices they have made, as the PM has said.

Perhaps we should start our Tory legacy debates with an emerging threat. The Electoral Commission chair warned recently that the Government’s strict new rules on voter ID risk excluding certain voter groups and leave the Conservative party open to the charge of bias. I and many others have thought for some time that this was simply an attempt at voter suppression from the Government, so does the Leader of the House agree with an erstwhile Cabinet colleague that the new Tory rules are simply, as he put it, an attempt at “gerrymandering”? Will she bring a debate on this important issue to the House before the next general election?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

What a bunch of rotters we are, with our anti-Scottish articles. It appears that the hon. Lady is planning to follow in the footsteps of many a great antipodean election guru by using a brilliant new strategy of equating criticism of the SNP’s performance with criticism of Scotland itself. The latter is a landmass of approximately 30,000 square miles, populated by brilliant, creative, stoic people; the former is a ramshackle separatist movement, full of people who have turned maladministration into an art form.

There is one tiny flaw in this new political tactic from the SNP: if we Conservatives dislike Scotland so much, for some reason the hon. Lady never gets round to explaining, why on earth would we strive so hard to keep it part of the Union of the United Kingdom? Why would this Conservative Government give Scotland the largest funding settlement it has ever had? Why would we have offered its citizens who were waiting for NHS treatment additional help and options, which the Scottish Government turned down?

If I wanted to do Scotland down, I would join, donate and campaign for the SNP, to whose members I would point out that the trailblazer for bringing back Victorian diseases to Britain is Glasgow. Watching the hon. Lady’s inaction, and that of her party, is like watching your much-loved neighbourhood being clobbered by a bunch of gangsters—let us call them the “hole in the budget” gang—hitting businesses, taking your cash, making your life a misery and keeping the local police force very busy. This new political strategy from the SNP, like everything else that it does, will fail.

Business of the House

Deidre Brock Excerpts
Tuesday 23rd January 2024

(1 month ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Deidre Brock Portrait Deidre Brock (Edinburgh North and Leith) (SNP)
- Hansard - -

I too pay tribute to Tony Lloyd. It was really moving to listen to the contributions of his friends and colleagues, which reflected the warm and decent person he was.

I regret that we are having to deal with Executive formation in this place yet again, because it is always best for the democratically elected Members of the Northern Ireland Assembly to be in their place and governing in the best interests of the people of Northern Ireland. The longer this drags on, the more the people of Northern Ireland suffer, which is frankly unforgiveable.

I regret, too, that we are seeing parliamentary business created on the hoof by this Government, particularly in such a serious and sensitive area, but here we are again. Many of us warned of exactly this problem arising. We are here because of a mess of the UK Government’s making, but they refuse to acknowledge that the easiest way of resolving it would be closer alignment with the EU, which would make much of this go away. Instead, the Brexit bourach rumbles on—a bourach this Government caused and are unwilling to face up to and sort out. My hon. Friend the Member for Gordon (Richard Thomson) will have much more to say on this tomorrow.

I have one question. Will this Government ever acknowledge their role in creating this mess and reconsider their hard-line rejection of the sensible option of returning to the single market?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The hon. Lady tempts me to go into detail on the single market, the customs union and the price we would have to pay for that, but you will be pleased to hear, Madam Deputy Speaker, that I will not.

The hon. Lady will know that we have twice extended the period for Executive formation through primary legislation and, despite the best efforts, restoration was not possible before the formation period expired on 18 January. She will know that bringing forward this legislation has been tied to talks and negotiations, which is why we have the current timetable.

Business of the House

Deidre Brock Excerpts
Thursday 18th January 2024

(1 month, 1 week ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I know that this issue, which my hon. Friend raises almost weekly, is of great concern to him, and that he wants to ensure that the final outcome of the process is as good as it can be. I will again make sure that the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has heard what he has said. The next session of questions to the Secretary of State will be on 22 January, and my hon. Friend may wish to raise the matter with him directly. This is the kind of information that should be in the public domain, so that people can make good decisions, although on some matters—relating to security concerns, for example—it may be sensible to redact.

Deidre Brock Portrait Deidre Brock (Edinburgh North and Leith) (SNP)
- Hansard - -

Let me start by associating myself with all the remarks about Tony Lloyd, whom I always found to be a very good and decent man.

Once again, I am indebted to the Leader of the House. Her eccentric video last week, in which she joked about Tupperware and the Stone of Destiny, excited quite a response in Scotland. “Why is she always on about Scotland?” people ask. The Tories have given us a joke Minister for common sense, and now it looks as if we have a Minister for clickbait.

Scotland does seem to be just a big joke for the Leader of the House. The brief seems clear: to rubbish and insult Scots every week during business questions. Of course she is not alone—this seems to be Tory policy nowadays—but she is adding value now by producing full-page articles in the papers about how awful Scotland is, along with a new clickbait video every week. All that effort, Mr Speaker! Although, given the very bad news for her party in this week's YouGov poll, perhaps these joke videos are in fact auditions. Perhaps it is not so much “stand up and fight” as stand-up comedian.

Meanwhile, the record of the right hon. Lady’s own Government is absolutely nothing to joke about, with destitution rising, doctors on strike crippling the English NHS, sea coasts foul with pollution, inhumane treatment of asylum seekers and the breaching of international law, unresolved scandals piling up, and the crushing impact of one of the worst Tory jokes of all, Brexit. But before we are treated to—oh, I don’t know, perhaps an attack on the Scottish Government and praise for the bullish actions of the zombie Scotland Office—let me say this. Surely Scotland can find a better use for—what is it now, over 12 million quid?—than funding that ever-expanding propaganda unit beavering away behind the scenes, undermining the work of the Scottish Parliament and, of course, assisting the Leader of the House with her scripts each week.

Closer to this place, however, we have the Westminster joke of the other place, with its 860 or so ermine-clad peers but one notable absentee. The right hon. Lady’s Scottish Tory friend and colleague Baroness Mone is currently not a sitting Member, because she has taken leave of absence by her own choice. It is being reported in the Daily Record that Baroness Mone claims she is still a Conservative as far as she is concerned, because she never had the Whip removed. Can the Leader of the House confirm that if Baroness Mone resumes her position in the other place tomorrow, as I believe she is entitled to do, she can sit as a Conservative? If not, exactly when was the Whip removed? Can the Leader of the House make time to answer that question before reading out this week's hilarious clickbait script?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The hon. Lady should thank me. I have been giving her publicity that money cannot buy, and I think it is encouraging that we have generated such a following and such an interest in what goes on in the Chamber during business questions. Let me make it clear to the hon. Lady that I am not talking Scotland down. I am talking the Scottish National party down, because it has been an unmitigated disaster for Scotland. The stoicism of the Scottish people in dealing with their inept Government deserves great credit.

Each week the hon. Lady talks about our record on delivery and invites me to make the comparison with the Scottish Government. I shall try to do so this week without mentioning the appalling record of the SNP Government, and just invite people to contrast our record with theirs.

In the UK, we have the largest rail infrastructure investment since Victorian times. We have massive regeneration projects across the UK. More than 1,000 miles of major roads have been refurbished; compare that with the A9, please. We have 20 times as much offshore wind capacity as we had when we entered office. Eighteen million households have full-fibre broadband. How is the Scottish Government’s broadband rollout going? Then there are our hospitals, mental health facilities, 50 new surgical hubs, new nuclear power stations and record investments in home and flood defences, and in the coming financial year our research and development spend will be about £20 billion.

In 2010, the strategic defence and security review greenlit a couple of aircraft carriers and, six years later, one was commissioned. That complex 65,000-tonne warship was built through the carrier alliance, a wonderful example of the UK supply chain working together. After the same six-year timeframe, the SNP is still building a couple of ferries, which are £308 million over budget. For context, the overspend is three times the original budget, and I now understand that these pioneering green vessels will run on diesel.

The SNP Government have been an unmitigated disaster for Scotland. They have been found out. They are incapable and incorrigible, and now they are in trouble.

The hon. Lady’s final question is a matter for the House of Lords, not the House of Commons.

Business of the House

Deidre Brock Excerpts
Tuesday 16th January 2024

(1 month, 1 week ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Rosie Winterton Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Rosie Winterton)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Does the Scottish National party spokesperson wish to ask a question?

Rosie Winterton Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I call Kevin Brennan.

Business of the House

Deidre Brock Excerpts
Thursday 11th January 2024

(1 month, 2 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I call the Scottish National party spokes- person.

Deidre Brock Portrait Deidre Brock (Edinburgh North and Leith) (SNP)
- Hansard - -

Bliadhna mhath ùr—happy new year to you, Mr Speaker, and to everyone in this place and watching.

Some positive news to start our first business questions of 2024: recent data from the Office for National Statistics and the Scottish Parliament Information Centre—the Commons Library equivalent—shows that Scotland’s gender pay gap is at a record low, and almost half that of the UK as a whole. Women’s weekly full-time pay has risen more than 10% in the last year. Any gap is, of course, too high, but I am sure that the Leader of the House would like to acknowledge the Scottish Government’s gender pay gap action plan, the first in the UK, which undoubtedly has helped to achieve those welcome results.

The Leader of the House’s Government could take several steps to help end the gender pay gap and advance equality right across these isles. After repeatedly shelving the employment Bill, they could finally act to make workplaces fairer, particularly in the current cost of living crisis, which we know impacts women more. They could legislate for mandatory gender and ethnicity pay gap reporting. They could finally deliver compensation for WASPI women—Women Against State Pension Inequality —who have waited far too long to receive justice. More broadly, they could tackle the gender pension gap, as yearly incomes among pensioners are on average more than £7,000 lower for women.

While the Leader of the House considers her response to those suggestions, could she also respond to reports in the media that her Government blocked a minority ethnic woman from joining the board of Channel 4 without offering a reason? I am curious to hear what action she took in response to the recent comments by the Home Secretary, and whether she will condemn them now. They do nothing to dispel perceptions that a culture of misogyny in the UK Government is hampering progress on these issues. As she is a former Minister for Women and Equalities, I am sure that these matters are close to her heart, so will she support a debate on them, where perhaps some solutions might finally be agreed?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I also wish the hon. Lady a very happy new year. I do welcome the good news on the gender pay gap in Scotland. It is nice to see the SNP championing some good progress in Scotland and giving credit where it is due.

With regard to the UK Government’s record, we are making good progress: since 2010 we have an additional 2 million women in work. As the author of the women in work road map, which looks at every aspect of a woman’s life and tries to address the reasons why she is financially disadvantaged right through her life, from when she leaves school, through raising a family to the pensions gap, I know that this Government are committed to delivering on those disparities.

The hon. Lady raised the issue of Channel 4. I do not know the answer to that today, but I shall certainly ensure that the relevant Department has heard what she said.

The hon. Lady will know what the Home Secretary has said about the other matter she raised. I hope she also knows that the Home Secretary is a very decent fellow who loves his wife greatly. They have been through a lot in recent years as a couple and the hon. Lady will also know that.

I will conclude by adding some further good news about Scotland, which I hope the hon. Lady will welcome. I am delighted that part of the Stone of Destiny has been recovered from SNP headquarters. I am sure that is a great relief to all Members. It is easy to lose things, I know, like a couple of billion quid from your budget, but I am sorry to hear that the SNP has taken as much care of it as it has taken as the steward of Scotland’s public services. Happily, the Tupperware container it was stored in has protected it during its stay and the police raids on that premises. I join my Scottish colleagues in encouraging the SNP to find a more suitable home for it.

Business of the House

Deidre Brock Excerpts
Thursday 14th December 2023

(2 months, 1 week ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I call the SNP spokesperson.

Deidre Brock Portrait Deidre Brock (Edinburgh North and Leith) (SNP)
- Hansard - -

Nollaig Chridheil agus Bliadhna Mhath Ùr a th’uile daoine—[Translation: “Merry Christmas and a happy new year to everyone.”]

Last week, the Leader of the House was unwilling or unable to answer my question about her Government’s latest immigration mess. Instead, she gave Scots another lecture from Westminster, this time about morality and her own global leadership. A lecture on morality from this Tory Government: pantomime season is truly upon us. Was she talking about the morality of her “pile the bodies high” Government, or perhaps recalling the time her Government said, “We are breaking the law, but only in a limited way”? Is it the morality that allows water companies to make a fortune in profits as children get sick swimming in raw sewage off the coast of England, or the morality that forces families of service personnel to live in quarters so riddled with damp and mould that they are judged too poor for human habitation? Perhaps that is the morality she had in mind. Could it be the morality of the return of near-Victorian levels of destitution across the UK? Perhaps she was thinking of the Women Against State Pension Inequality Campaign. Perhaps she could lecture them about morality and see what they have to say to her.

Before the Leader of the House launches into—mercifully—her last video nasty of the year, I hope she can answer my question today. It is the same question I asked last week, which remains unanswered and mired in confusion thanks to her Prime Minister. This morning’s statement on “Citizens’ rights” might well address it, but we should have debated such drastic changes before now in this place anyway. It is supposed to be the season of goodwill, but so many of our constituents are now deeply concerned and frightened by the announcement, so I will ask again on their behalf: if the spouse or partner of a British citizen is currently living in the UK on a leave to remain visa, can they be deported if their salary is less than £38,700? Yes or no?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Let me start by wishing the hon. Lady and her SNP colleagues a very happy Christmas. I point her to what the Prime Minister said yesterday in Prime Minister’s questions about further information coming forward in the new year. I said last week that I fully understand that people in particular professions, including the armed forces, will want answers. My office stands ready to facilitate any particular cases or requests in the meantime. Transition arrangements will be announced shortly, as the Prime Minister put on record loud and clear yesterday.

I do not know where to start with the hon. Lady’s lecture on morality. She mentioned vulnerable people, yet this week the SNP announced that Scotland’s national care service will be pushed back three years. She mentioned the armed forces, but her Government are insisting that they pay higher tax, and this Government are compensating them for that. If she wants to find Victorian levels of rats and rickets, she should go to SNP-run local authorities.

I think we should have a festive round-up on SNP morality: 12 hours of police questioning, 11 grand in roaming charges, 10 years without school inspections, nine sham embassies, eight years of poor child mental health, seven years without ferries, six years shirking welfare, five hundred million overspent on Edinburgh’s tram, four million to install a heat pump, three high-profile arrests, two overseas jollies, and a dodgy Jaguar EV. [Hon. Members: “Hear, hear!”] I have succeeded in bringing a smile to the hon. Lady’s face. I must thank her for being the gift that keeps on giving at business questions. I hope that in 2024 better things are destined for the Scottish people: better education, health, transport and opportunities, and better value for the taxes they pay. I hope that all their MPs will come here, represent their interests and take responsibility for the authority that they are given. That is my Christmas wish.

Business of the House

Deidre Brock Excerpts
Thursday 7th December 2023

(2 months, 2 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Rosie Winterton Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Rosie Winterton)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I call the Scottish National party spokesperson.

Deidre Brock Portrait Deidre Brock (Edinburgh North and Leith) (SNP)
- Hansard - -

It is tempting to forestall and dismantle now any spin that the Leader of the House may be inclined to bring up on Scottish education issues, given Westminster’s shocking record. Following her outburst against Scotland’s health service workers last week, I must clear up some things. Scotland watches her “odd” weekly rants, as the Scottish press dubs them, with concern and alarm. Let me give some useful facts for her and Scotland about the Scottish NHS: health funding is at record highs; staffing levels are also at a record high, with far more staff per head than England; we have the best performing A&E units and the highest number of GPs per head in the UK, no prescriptions charges, and still not a single day lost to industrial disputes in the Scottish NHS. There is always room for improvement but, as the Leader of the House reaches for her latest penny dreadful script, she can rest assured that I will be happy to set the record straight, wherever her imagination takes her.

Meanwhile, the Government plumb new depths with their immigration panic measures, which are so damaging to Scotland in particular. The Daily Telegraph columnist Tim Stanley has written:

“A friend has messaged me in a blind panic”.

If they fall in love and marry someone from overseas, must they have an income of £38,700 to settle here? He went on to say:

“Something like 75% of us earn less than that. Is it fair to limit family formation to the rich? Is it conservative…to divide families?

Of course, it is fine if someone is rich, so maybe it is.

If we, our children or our grandchildren fall in love with someone from another country—many of us do so on our travels; I am living proof of that—they will not be able to join us here unless we have guaranteed earnings nearing £39,000. Cue a further exodus of our young people from these shores to other countries with a more enlightened approach to migration and their citizens’ human rights. Even worse, those who have already gone through the process and who thought that they had won the right to live here in peace will have to come up with that figure the next time their visa is extended. Should Parliament not have debated these extreme measures first? Can the Leader of the House defend this shameful policy, or are she and other Ministers threatening to resign?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank the hon. Lady. I would ask her to go and have a look at the SNP’s record on education. I have spoken about that in the last two business question sessions, so I shall not detain the House any longer on it. I think everyone in this Chamber is aware of the SNP’s appalling record on destroying the education system in Scotland—the only people who are not are those in charge of it.

The hon. Lady mentioned the NHS and pay settlements, and the theme of her question is really values and morality. Does she think it would be moral if a Government denied faster NHS treatment to its citizens post covid because they did not want to send them to an English hospital? I understand that the former Health Secretary made that offer to the First Minister and it was rejected. Is it moral to offer a pay deal, as she boasts, to public sector workers, including NHS workers, without a plan to pay for it? Come to think of it, is it moral to withhold funds designated for business rate relief from businesses? Would she describe it as moral if a Government denied their citizens the ability to have a civil partnership—she speaks of relationships—with their opposite-sex partner for a year, including those who were terminally ill, because they did not want the UK Government to legislate on their behalf?

While the hon. Lady is looking up the SNP’s record on education, I would ask her also to check how many concurrent police investigations there are into the SNP’s antics. Owing to her party’s antics, I am afraid her quest to take the moral high ground is stuck at a subterranean level. But given that she has, as is standard SNP operating procedure, played the man as well as the ball, I will set the record straight on my own record with regard to refugees. I spent time over two years looking after the most desperate and vulnerable people in the eastern bloc after the Romanian revolution. More recently, I have spent time on the water in the Mediterranean and northern Libya tracking migration and people-trafficking routes. When I was in Greece and Italy, I saw how the EU’s biometric scanners in its southern ports had not even been uncovered and unwrapped, and how Europe’s security was being failed. I have opened my home to refugees: I have been hosting a Ukrainian refugee since May last year, and before that I offered my home to Afghan refugees.

I can tell the hon. Lady that migration is one of the most critical issues facing our country and the world, and that the global rules on it are broken. I have made it my business to understand how we can fix them—that is our duty—and it will take global leadership to build the tools to rewrite those rules. If we do it, I think other nations will follow. I would ask her to really check what her duty is in this manner and consider supporting our legislation.