Debates between Deidre Brock and Lindsay Hoyle during the 2019 Parliament

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Commons Chamber
(Urgent Question)

Business of the House

Debate between Deidre Brock and Lindsay Hoyle
Thursday 29th February 2024

(5 days, 13 hours ago)

Commons Chamber
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Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the SNP spokesperson.

Deidre Brock Portrait Deidre Brock (Edinburgh North and Leith) (SNP)
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A lot has happened since the Leader of the House and I last faced each other, and I commend her for her intervention in last week’s events. She acted, as she said, to defend the rights of minority parties. That was the right thing to do, but what a dismal reflection on Westminster that the rights of minority party MPs in this place now need protecting and defending. The whole House knows how we got here. At some point we will get to the bottom of what pressure there was, exactly what dealings were done behind Victorian screens, and what “simply urging the Speaker” actually meant. To be fair, some Labour figures were fessing up at the weekend, or perhaps gloating, about their tactics—all because the SNP wanted to debate an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.

People might ask why I am not tackling the Leader of the House today on her Government’s economic policies, Brexit or child poverty. We will return to our normal business questions exchanges of course, but at the core of our work as MPs is that all Members and parties must be treated fairly, and seen to be treated fairly. For as long as Scotland sends MPs here, we will expect and demand that. No one party can be allowed to change the rules by bullying. There is not a great deal that the Leader of the House and I agree on, but I know that on this we do. What use can she make of her offices to ensure that we never find ourselves in that sorry procedural mess again, and can she tell us when the replacement SNP Opposition day will be?

Finally, after the giant lobby of Parliament by campaigners yesterday, I must again raise the Government’s repeated delays in delivering full and fair compensation to those infected and affected by the contaminated blood scandal. I know that the Leader of the House recognises the fully justified depth of anger about this. Can she tell us what progress has been made ahead of the Budget to set up the structures of the compensation scheme transparently and in consultation with victims and their families, so that it is ready to start allocating funds at the earliest opportunity?

Business of the House

Debate between Deidre Brock and Lindsay Hoyle
Thursday 8th February 2024

(3 weeks, 5 days ago)

Commons Chamber
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Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the SNP spokesperson.

Deidre Brock Portrait Deidre Brock (Edinburgh North and Leith) (SNP)
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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?

Business of the House

Debate between Deidre Brock and Lindsay Hoyle
Thursday 25th January 2024

(1 month, 1 week ago)

Commons Chamber
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Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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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)
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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?

Business of the House

Debate between Deidre Brock and Lindsay Hoyle
Thursday 11th January 2024

(1 month, 3 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
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Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the Scottish National party spokes- person.

Deidre Brock Portrait Deidre Brock (Edinburgh North and Leith) (SNP)
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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?

Business of the House

Debate between Deidre Brock and Lindsay Hoyle
Thursday 14th December 2023

(2 months, 3 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
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Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the SNP spokesperson.

Deidre Brock Portrait Deidre Brock (Edinburgh North and Leith) (SNP)
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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?

Business of the House

Debate between Deidre Brock and Lindsay Hoyle
Thursday 23rd November 2023

(3 months, 1 week ago)

Commons Chamber
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Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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We now come to the SNP spokesperson.

Deidre Brock Portrait Deidre Brock (Edinburgh North and Leith) (SNP)
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Things became a bit clearer for us all this week. For a time, we have been wondering what the Leader of the House meant when she delivered her infamous “stand up and fight” battle cry. She told us 12 times in 90 seconds that she wanted to have a fight with somebody, but we were not quite sure who the enemy in her head was. We know in Scotland that she likes having a fight with us; she is always telling us off for disobedience or treachery. In Tory Britain, we Scots really should know our place. But the Chancellor helpfully revealed who else her Government want to fight with.

If you are unable to work because of ill health, get ready for battle with the Tories. If you are among the 4 million families destitute in the UK, forget it—there will be no real help for you in your daily struggle to survive. As is clear from the covid inquiry, if you are a scientist or—God forbid—an actual expert, gird your loins. In England, Tories fight NHS workers. They fight teachers. They fight local councils. They fight the low-paid. If you are on pensions or benefits, sure, they threw you a few crumbs yesterday from their table, but the Office for National Statistics says that food prices are 30% higher than they were two years ago, so they will fight you at the checkout tills. There was not a word about fighting billionaires’ tax evasion, fighting dirty money being laundered through London, or fighting the corruption and fraud drenching this Government in sleaze.

When the Chancellor sat down yesterday, the independent OBR assessed that his measures would bring the largest reduction in living standards since records began. But never mind; I see the other place was debating the Pedicabs (London) Bill last night, so we can all calm down, knowing that this Government are focused on the things that really matter. And people ask us why we want to see Scotland independent and away from this bedlam of a place!

I realise that I will wait in vain for any actual answers to these questions—questions like, how is it exactly that the right hon. Lady’s Government can find fiscal headroom in their Budget when some of my constituents in Edinburgh North and Leith cannot afford to feed themselves? Is it not time her profligate Government stopped fighting everybody and held an inquiry into themselves and the many billions they have squandered over the last four years?

Business of the House

Debate between Deidre Brock and Lindsay Hoyle
Thursday 16th November 2023

(3 months, 2 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
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Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the SNP spokesperson.

Deidre Brock Portrait Deidre Brock (Edinburgh North and Leith) (SNP)
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People in Scotland learned something this week: however much we dislike and distrust this Tory Government, it is nothing compared with how much they utterly loathe each other. Those letters, emails and WhatsApp messages show that they spend their time attacking each other, leaving no time to help people struggling with the Tory mortgage and rent bombshell or with rocketing energy bills, and no time to reduce NHS waiting lists in England, now approaching 8 million, or to cap food inflation, which is still running at over 10%. They are way too busy fighting like rats in a sack. Even their squalid, unlawful Rwanda scheme has fallen apart.

However, I bring good news to the Leader of the House to cheer her up—news from a part of the UK where a Government are getting on with the job; where not a single day has been lost in the NHS to industrial disputes; where teachers are the best paid in the UK; where the Scottish child payment is taking tens of thousands out of poverty; where the railways have been taken into public ownership; where there are free school meals for all pupils, P1 to P5; where there are more GPs per head than anywhere in the UK; where those aged 60 and over get free bus travel, along with our under-22-year-olds; and where we offer free university tuition, free prescriptions, free eye tests, and free personal care to our older folk. That is in Scotland under the SNP-led Scottish Government, as the Leader of the House knows, but her Government have a cunning plan to make everything come good: a new Minister for common sense—a wokefinder general, to search out woke thinking and eliminate it. The job is in the safe hands of someone who is allowed to attend Cabinet, but is prohibited from speaking in meetings—and anyone who knows the new Minister knows that a period of silence may be her first and overwhelming challenge. For some light relief in this very bleak week for her Government, could the Leader of the House help many of her baffled colleagues and try to give us her definition of “woke”?

Business of the House

Debate between Deidre Brock and Lindsay Hoyle
Thursday 9th November 2023

(3 months, 3 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
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Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the SNP spokesperson.

Deidre Brock Portrait Deidre Brock (Edinburgh North and Leith) (SNP)
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Before her rapid rise to her current role as the Leader of the House, the right hon. Lady briefly served as Minister for Women and Equalities. There is—believe it or not—still such a role in this Tory Government. I raise that because recently there have been some absolutely shocking insights into the Government’s attitudes to women and equalities that give us an opportunity to assess her Government’s record, and—spoiler alert for her—it is grotesque.

First, we had the stomach-churning misogyny in language and behaviour described by witnesses at the covid inquiry. I imagine that even the Leader of the House would find it hard to defend the routine and disgraceful attacks on women in a Government she served. It told us so much. We then had the United Nations rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Oliver De Schutter, telling the right hon. Lady’s Government that their record on poverty was “simply not acceptable” and was violating international laws. That surprises no one who sees the effects of her Government’s cruel policies day in and day out. Then a former Tory chair joined the fray by saying that there was “rot at the heart” of the party she was once so proud to be a member of—a rot at the heart of Government.

What we are talking about is the Tory Government’s values, and those values are not Scotland’s values. Their values suggest that the way to help the homeless is to ban charities from supplying tents to rough sleepers—it is a “lifestyle choice” to be homeless, is it not? Those comments were so misjudged that even the Prime Minister was embarrassed. They have the values that say, “We don’t care if we break international laws on poverty and the human rights of the poorest”, and that women can be dismissed in the foulest way imaginable as a part of normal behaviour. Simon Case, the country’s most senior civil servant, said that he had

“never seen a bunch of people less well-equipped to run a country”.

He should know.

Can we have a debate on the Tory Government’s values and what 13 years under this “brutal and useless” Government have done to progress women and equalities and the interests of the most vulnerable among us in this far from United Kingdom?

Business of the House

Debate between Deidre Brock and Lindsay Hoyle
Thursday 19th October 2023

(4 months, 2 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
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Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the SNP spokesperson.

Deidre Brock Portrait Deidre Brock (Edinburgh North and Leith) (SNP)
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I associate myself with all the remarks about Sir David.

The Leader of the House has previously commented on how much she enjoys our exchanges at business questions, as do I. It is the weekly forum where I challenge her on our deep and profound differences in policies and priorities, and there will be plenty of opportunities in the next few weeks and months to tackle her on her Government’s shortcomings. However, today, like so many people, my thoughts are with the civilian populations in Gaza and Israel. People across all nations of the UK share this House’s revulsion and fear of what we see unfolding—revulsion at the barbarism of Hamas and fear of what the future holds for innocent children, women and men in both Gaza and Israel. A huge number of MPs have constituents who are worried sick about friends or relatives who are caught up in these events, and of course communities across the UK will be anxious about what we are witnessing and its potential impact. As the House will know, Scotland’s First Minister, Humza Yousaf, and his wife and family are directly affected in the most terrible way, and my thoughts are also with them today.

The UK Government have several roles to fulfil in this crisis, and there is an urgent need for action, as we all know. In the first instance, they must direct their efforts to the enormous humanitarian aid needs in southern Gaza—medical supplies, water, food, basic power. Twenty trucks is a start, but there are apparently 100 standing by and they must get through. However, they need to travel safely through, so calling for an immediate ceasefire to facilitate the provision of aid in Gaza and to give evacuees a safe passage out is vital, as is the release of all the hostages—one’s heart breaks to think of them—and the use of every possible diplomatic effort to stop an escalation into a wider regional conflict. The Government should join First Minister Humza Yousaf in calling for a worldwide refugee scheme similar to that established for Syrian, Afghan and Ukrainian refugees. In the longer term, they should use all their powers to keep the two-state solution alive and keep a dialogue for peace open. They must rise to many challenges, and we wish the Prime Minister well in his endeavours today. Will the Leader of the House confirm that he will deliver a statement about the outcome on his return?

Of course, we will return to the business of scrutinising the Government’s actions in the usual way when politics returns to some sort of normality, hopefully very soon.

Retirement of the Clerk of the House

Debate between Deidre Brock and Lindsay Hoyle
Tuesday 12th September 2023

(5 months, 3 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
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Deidre Brock Portrait Deidre Brock
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I thank my hon. Friend for that fitting tribute; I know he worked closely with Sir John over the years.

I also pay great tribute to Sir John for overseeing the establishment of the Independent Expert Panel, to determine complaints of bullying and harassment in relation to MPs, implementing the recommendations in Dame Laura Cox’s report.

Another major project during Sir John’s term has been the ongoing restoration and renewal of the parliamentary estate. The Public Accounts Committee warned:

“there is a real and rising risk that a catastrophic event will destroy the Palace before it is ever repaired and restored.”

The evidence that Sir John gave to the Committee earlier this year should be read carefully by all Members of both Houses, especially those who think that this building is perfect and nothing needs to change.

I have not known Sir John for very long on a personal level, so I will admit that I did pop in to see a senior Clerk to gather some of her insights. She described him as a deeply intelligent man with a sharp sense of humour who has a truly passionate love of football. As we have heard, he is a Man United fan, so I am sure he will be hoping for some improvement after a slightly difficult start to the season.

Colleagues who have worked with Sir John closely remark on his rich, eclectic cultural and intellectual interests. That is one of the qualities, perhaps, that has helped him successfully transition between various different roles in this place—for example, at one point moving from the Commons clerking team to the Commons Library.

Sir John drew inspiration from different fields and sectors to inform his work in Parliament. I am told that he was a keen reader of the Harvard Business Review at a time when that was considered unusual, and he engaged with banks and other such organisations to gain insight into improving customer service for Members. Parliament has certainly benefited from that approach. The “MPs’ Guide to Procedure”, which I know Members and staff find enormously helpful and practical, was an initiative that he led on, as well as introducing simple things such as the buddying system for new MPs, which newcomers found invaluable when attempting to navigate the complexities of this place.

I wish Sir John all the best in his new role and his future endeavours, and I warmly congratulate Tom Goldsmith on his appointment as Sir John’s successor. Tom was most recently Principal Clerk of the Table Office, and he has been with the House service since 1996, so he will bring a vast range of expertise and experience to the job. My colleagues and I very much look forward to working with him.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the former Leader of the House. Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg.

Business of the House

Debate between Deidre Brock and Lindsay Hoyle
Thursday 20th July 2023

(7 months, 2 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
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Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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We now come to the SNP spokesperson.

Deidre Brock Portrait Deidre Brock (Edinburgh North and Leith) (SNP)
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This may be the last time I face the Leader of the House at business questions; if the rumours are true, she is about to be moved again in yet another “deckchairs on the Tory Titanic” reshuffle. It is a shame; she was just getting the hang of business questions, by which I mean that, like other Tory Ministers at the Dispatch Box, she consistently avoids answering the question. If anyone doubts that, last week, when I asked her about the Prime Minister’s inflation and debt pledges, I got a lecture in response about nuclear weapons and afternoon coffee breaks, and then she described me as “delusional”.

There is no hope that the Government will change course; 13 years of austerity and incompetence are baked in. We are talking about a Government who forced Brexit on Scotland, and who refuse to allow the Scots even the right to choose their own future; a Budget that tanked the economy and pushed the pensions sector to the brink of collapse; an inhuman and degrading immigration regime; former Prime Ministers who cannot even remember their phone passwords for a covid inquiry; and a current PM who appears to think that arguing with banks on behalf of an individual is the most important thing to focus on in the midst of a cost of living crisis, and just a day before three by-elections. Doctors, nurses and teachers are all striking in England. According to the Transport Secretary, it is now expected that political parties will pay out for the actions of their donors and associates—a surprising tack to take, as his party can now surely expect a veritable torrent of invoices to wing their way to Conservative HQ in the near future.

The people of Scotland know, of course, that there is a better way than what we have to put up with here. Scotland has hope of a better way than endless Westminster failures and arrogance; it has hope of a future that holds real prospects of a better life for our families and communities. Probably for the last time, in the vain hope of an answer, I ask a question of the Leader of the House: with food inflation still running at an estimated 17.3%, can we have a debate on how the Government got us in such a hopeless mess?

NATO Summit

Debate between Deidre Brock and Lindsay Hoyle
Thursday 13th July 2023

(7 months, 3 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
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Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the SNP spokesperson.

Deidre Brock Portrait Deidre Brock (Edinburgh North and Leith) (SNP)
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Thank you, Mr Speaker, and I associate myself with the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition’s strong support for Ukraine. Slava Ukraini.

This Government’s defence Command Paper will be published next week, I believe. Given events in Ukraine, what lessons has the Ministry of Defence learned about modern urban warfare, and how will that feed into operational strategy? I recall the former Prime Minister saying at the Liaison Committee just before the war:

“We have to recognise that the old concepts of fighting big tank battles on the European landmass…are over”.

He then proceeded to cut our tank numbers—how wrong he was. Is the Department considering future opportunities for defence co-operation with the EU that are complementary to NATO?

There is less than a week left until the expiration of the deal allowing Ukrainian grain exports via the Black sea—this is very important, so I hope the Prime Minister is listening. Can he speak to the discussions that were had at the summit to ensure the continuation of the current deal, which is vital for Ukraine’s remaining economy and for global food security? What steps has the Department taken, and what steps will it take, to improve the UK’s military partnership with Finland in the period since it joined NATO, and are there plans to do the same with Sweden?

Given recent reports of Russian spying on and sabotage of energy infrastructure in the North sea, and the fact that the UK’s undersea cables are worth £7.4 trillion a day to the economy, what will the UK be contributing to NATO’s establishment of its critical undersea infrastructure co-ordination cell, and will it be based in Scotland? My hon. Friend and leader the Member for Aberdeen South (Stephen Flynn) raised with the Prime Minister previously that some nations are continuing to use products from Russian oil. Did he pursue that further? Is it his impression there is genuine unity on proposed reconstruction efforts in Ukraine?

Finally, how does the Prime Minister hope to contribute to diplomatic efforts to bring on board parts of the international community, increasingly including the Republican right in America, to support what NATO is doing to ensure Ukraine’s survival?

Business of the House

Debate between Deidre Brock and Lindsay Hoyle
Thursday 22nd June 2023

(8 months, 2 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
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Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the Scottish National party spokesperson.

Deidre Brock Portrait Deidre Brock (Edinburgh North and Leith) (SNP)
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“Eternal Father, Strong to Save”, written for those in peril on the sea, is one of my very favourite hymns. It calls to mind the dangers that those brave enough to venture forth on sometimes stormy waters can face, whether those who travel down to its very depths or those risking their lives to escape war, persecution, famine or drought. Our hearts go out to all those currently lost and their loved ones, but the contrast in approach to recent events is telling. Where were the same levels of energy and resources to help the 750 poor souls crowded on board the vessel that capsized near Greece last week, in what will surely rank among the worst catastrophes in the Mediterranean in recent history?

It is a source of tragic irony that this year’s Refugee Week immediately follows that horrific incident. It also reflects a growing global humanitarian crisis on which this UK Government continue to turn their back. Seeking asylum is a human right, but rather than providing safe and legal routes, this Government choose to abdicate their responsibilities under international human rights law, from the Afghan resettlement scheme to Rwanda deportations and the refugee ban Bill. While Ministers continue to reflexively parrot “stop the boats” to questions on the topic, this week the UK’s leading medical bodies called for an urgent meeting with the Government, warning that plans to detain children indefinitely under the Illegal Migration Bill pose the risk of “unimaginable levels of harm” to their physical and mental health. Can we have a debate on the long-term health impact of that legislation and Government’s immigration and asylum policies?

Scotland stands ready to accommodate refugees and asylum seekers. Glasgow remains the local authority with the most dispersed asylum seekers in the UK, while Scotland has taken in 20% of all Ukrainian arrivals under the sponsorship schemes. If the Home Office really wanted to assist, rather than enriching Tory-appointed private contractors it could provide the necessary funding for local authorities across the UK. Today, over 110 million people have been forcibly displaced from their homes. That figure will only grow in the coming years. [Interruption.] Can the Leader of the House and her fellow advocates of global Britain tell us how they intend to step up to meet the challenge?

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The hon. Lady is shouting loudly because I am coughing! This is not a good way to do things. We have to get a grip of time, because a lot of Members want to get in, and we must look after them.

Business of the House

Debate between Deidre Brock and Lindsay Hoyle
Thursday 8th June 2023

(9 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the Scottish National party spokesperson.

Deidre Brock Portrait Deidre Brock (Edinburgh North and Leith) (SNP)
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It was announced in the Scottish Parliament yesterday that Scotland’s deposit return scheme has had to be delayed until October 2025. That is the latest estimate of how long it will take England to finally catch up with the devolved Governments and introduce its own scheme. Some would call this dithering and delaying, and I know that that is what a great many environmental organisations think.

Keep Britain Tidy estimates that every day of delay leaves an extra 140,000 cans and bottles littering Scotland. This delay, forced on Scotland by the UK Government’s refusal to grant an exemption under the United Kingdom Internal Market Act 2020, means that tens of millions of those items will be littering Scotland’s lands and seas for many months to come. After several years of discussion with Scottish businesses and, indeed, nearly two years of discussion with the UK Government and officials under the common framework set-up, and with no justification offered for the refusal to agree to the exemption, the Secretary of State for Scotland swooped in at the last minute, like some sort of toff Tarzan, to squash the scheme—many examples of which can be seen across the world—and demanded that glass be removed from it, thus forcing Scotland to wait for England’s scheme to become operational. Given that no regulations outlining how England’s scheme will work have yet been laid, the estimated delivery date of 1 October 2025 in England looks optimistic, to put it kindly.

Once upon a time, we supposedly had the most powerful devolved Parliament in the world. Now we are not permitted to run a packaging recycling scheme. Will the Leader of the House perhaps permit a debate on devolution and its future, given that her Government apparently intend to continue to intervene and claw back to the centre powers that the people of Scotland wanted to be devolved to their Parliament? Can devolution now work only if the devolved and Westminster Governments are in complete agreement? Is that really what the people of Scotland voted for in 1997 in their devolution referendum? If the UK Government are prepared to intervene on a packaging recycling scheme, what confidence can we have that any of our Parliament’s policies will not be struck down in a similar way?

I have further questions. Why were so many MSPs and MPs in the right hon. Lady’s party enthusiastic about including glass in deposit return schemes previously —commitments to that were even included in the manifesto on which she stood—and what exactly has changed their minds? Acting on the advice of which bodies or individuals did the Secretary of State intervene, and with which environmental organisations did he discuss this before he intervened? Why has the inclusion of glass apparently been permitted for the scheme in Wales? I would be very grateful for some answers.

Business of the House

Debate between Deidre Brock and Lindsay Hoyle
Thursday 25th May 2023

(9 months, 2 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
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Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the SNP spokesperson.

Deidre Brock Portrait Deidre Brock (Edinburgh North and Leith) (SNP)
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I am sorry for the losses expressed by the Leader of the House, and we send our deepest condolences to all those affected, particularly the family and friends of Eilidh MacLeod.

I am not sure where to go with my business questions today. I could ask the Leader of the House about the £74 billion wasted in last year’s reckless September Budget and the resulting pain for householders, the questions hanging over the UK Government’s flagship freeport project and why the National Audit Office has not been asked to investigate it, the 4 million children living in poverty in the UK today because of Tory austerity, or the catastrophe of Brexit, which, of course, Scotland did not vote for. The truth is that it will not matter as the Leader of the House will once again ignore my question and instead read a pre-prepared script for the latest of her routine videos attacking Scotland’s elected Government, rather than answering for the actions of her own. So, I am afraid that it is in the spirit of hope rather than of conviction that I ask her this: can we have a debate in Government time in this Chamber on the infected blood scandal, so that the terrible accounts that those of us on the all-party group have heard from victims and their families might be told again and, hopefully, finally shame this Government into taking action now before it is too late for many of them. It is too late for Randolph Peter Gordon-Smith, the late father of my constituents, Justine and Rachel, but it is not too late for them to be treated equitably as the executors of his estate, and to be given proper compensation for all the traumas that they suffered as carers during the dreadful and distressing decline of their father until death finally overcame him.

In the light of the second interim report, Justine cannot understand—and neither can I—why registration of the estates of the unrecognised infected deceased cannot be completed through existing support schemes now, using the same mechanism as the first interim payment, without further complicating and prolonging matters through the establishment of an arm’s length body, as the report proposes. Do not these families deserve justice now where it can be delivered? I would be most grateful to the Leader of the House if she addressed that question before reading out the video script written for her.

Business of the House

Debate between Deidre Brock and Lindsay Hoyle
Thursday 18th May 2023

(9 months, 3 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
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Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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We now come to the SNP spokesperson.

Deidre Brock Portrait Deidre Brock (Edinburgh North and Leith) (SNP)
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This week, Britain has been treated to not one, but two, Conservative conferences: the far-right Conservative Democratic Organisation and the extreme far-right National Conservatism conferences. I was rather surprised that the Leader of the House was not there after her recent starring role; nevertheless, the Home Secretary, the Levelling Up Secretary, and lots of up-and-coming Tory Back Benchers all made eye-catching contributions, along with some other rather extraordinary speeches. The holocaust was dismissed as Nazis mucking things up, and we were told that only married straight couples could safely bring up children, that pagans and narcissists are harming western civilisation, and that woke teachers are ruining children’s education—it should make for an interesting Tory manifesto. Many of my constituents are extremely concerned by these latest developments. Can we have a debate to examine the extremist language and attitudes that we have witnessed at those conferences, and can the Leader of the House tell us whether they further signal her Government’s alarming slide into the grip of the far right, or will she reject these ideas out of hand like all decent people?

At Prime Minister’s questions last week, the Prime Minister said that the Scottish Government should ditch plans to introduce highly protected marine areas, apparently unaware that the Scottish Government are only at the very start of a consultation process, with many hundreds of responses to go through yet, and that our First Minister and Ministers have said that no community will have an HPMA forced upon it. I do not know why some of the Prime Minister’s Tory MSPs could not have told him that, although judging from recent behaviour in the Scottish Parliament, perhaps some struggle to use the internet.

However, rather embarrassingly, I see that the PM himself, when touting for Tory membership votes last year, signed a pledge from the Conservative Friends of the Ocean group supporting the creation of HPMAs, and his Government recently announced that three HPMAs will be created in England. What is going on here? I know that the Conservatives are desperate to win back the Scottish coastal communities after their Brexit catastrophe, but those communities will see through this hypocrisy, and my jaw nearly hit the floor when I saw that the lead patron of that same Conservative Friends of the Ocean group was the Leader of the House herself. Perhaps a debate sorting out exactly where the UK Government are on this important issue would be helpful, and can the Leader of the House clarify how she is dealing with the PM’s flip-flopping on HPMAs? Will she be resigning from Government to honour her role as patron, or resigning as patron to uphold Government policy?

Business of the House

Debate between Deidre Brock and Lindsay Hoyle
Thursday 16th March 2023

(11 months, 3 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
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Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the SNP spokesperson.

Deidre Brock Portrait Deidre Brock (Edinburgh North and Leith) (SNP)
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The Leader of the House will no doubt be disappointed that despite it containing some welcome news, for instance about prepayment meters—a tribute to the many months of campaigning on this issue by my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow North East (Anne McLaughlin)—I will not be opening with fulsome praise for her Chancellor’s Budget. Why? Despite the largest fall in living standards and disposable income for decades being endured by the vast majority of people throughout the UK, instead of holding out a helping hand to those folks, the Chancellor has just rewarded the wealthiest with a hefty leg up the pensions ladder, and instead of the investment that is desperately needed for cheaper, cleaner renewables, we get billions ploughed into nuclear. So instead, I will be asking the Leader of the House for a debate on broken British dreams and sunk hopes—that is not a country and western song, Mr Speaker.

The £20 billion over 20 years that the Chancellor has announced for nuclear and carbon capture projects will not support retrofitting homes to permanently cut energy costs for households, or much cheaper onshore wind developments, tidal energy, green hydrogen, heat pumps, district heating or solar. It will not win the global race for investment into those industries against the US and the EU, among many others.

The Treasury and the Chancellor do not appear capable of thinking outside their outdated energy sources box. Instead, they are giving us the reclassification of nuclear so as to receive the same investment opportunities as renewables—nuclear, Mr Speaker! There is not one successful evolutionary power reactor project in the world, and we still have no real solution for the safe disposal of waste that remains radioactive for centuries. Nuclear plants take years to build, and always run over budget and over time. Why are the Government so thirled to nuclear, when there are cheaper, safer, proven alternatives that will bring us to net zero targets much more quickly?

I must add: why is there no more support for tidal energy, which can provide a clean and reliable baseload and has vast potential in Scotland? We already have the world’s leading wave and tidal energy test centre based in Orkney, while companies such as Nova Innovation in my constituency are pioneers in this technology.

The UK Government’s actions suggest again that they are not taking the climate crisis seriously. The Leader of the House joined forces years ago with director Richard Curtis to champion the UN sustainable development goal targets when she was International Development Secretary. However, when I have asked her about environmental issues in the past, she has avoided the questions altogether. Is she still committed to and leading on these issues within her Government or not?

Business of the House

Debate between Deidre Brock and Lindsay Hoyle
Thursday 9th March 2023

(12 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the SNP spokesperson.

Deidre Brock Portrait Deidre Brock (Edinburgh North and Leith) (SNP)
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A few weeks ago, the Leader of the House praised the hon. Member for Ashfield (Lee Anderson), claiming that he spoke for many within Britain. He, of course, has voiced support for capital punishment and has instructed the poor and vulnerable on how they could subsist on a pittance if only they tried harder.

Well, Gary Lineker clearly speaks for many, many more of us, judging from the reactions when he voiced his revulsion at the language around the Government’s latest migration Bill. I am sure that the sight of that lectern emblazoned with its slogan shook him as much as it did me, once I realised that it was not a spoof. Ah, those three-word slogans, so beloved of some political operatives. “Stop the boats,” “Take back control,” “Oven-ready deal,” “Build the wall”—truly Trumptious tag lines, finessed by shady campaigning strategists to deliver grubby psychological jolts to the public’s consciousness that will really drive their ugly, misleading messages home. For a party whose Members are perpetually outraged at supposed threats to their own free speech, the Conservatives’ clamour to clamp down on Mr Lineker’s opinions seems deeply ironic.

Does the Leader of the House agree that it is beyond time we had a debate in this place about the use of populist rhetoric in politics and in public life before it is too late? It could refer specifically to exactly those dark times in the past that provide us with warnings about where a politics that increasingly calls on such language could be heading if we do not have the freedom to call out all such despicable attempts to other our fellow human beings. I note from the FT recently that lack of trust in politics has risen in importance as a concern for the public, so such a debate might help to restore some of that trust.

Or perhaps this might. When can we have a debate—in Government time, of course—about the Prime Minister’s tax affairs? When he was quizzed yesterday about the overdue release of his tax returns, he replied only that he would publish them “very shortly.” Our First Minister has released her tax returns from 2014-15 up to the most recent return, so why not him? Admittedly, hers show only the salary that she has received as First Minister over that time, while I appreciate that his will be rather more complicated, but will the Leader of the House use her good offices to make it happen sooner than “shortly”?

Business of the House

Debate between Deidre Brock and Lindsay Hoyle
Thursday 2nd March 2023

(1 year ago)

Commons Chamber
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Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the SNP spokesperson.

Deidre Brock Portrait Deidre Brock (Edinburgh North and Leith) (SNP)
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I am glad to see the Leader of the House in her place today—she has not been tempted away to the seaside, I believe, with her colleagues on their away day. Many happy returns for the weekend as well.

It is perhaps no surprise that the Prime Minister scheduled the away day on a business day. Let us face it, folk are starting to notice that there is an extremely light hand on the Government’s legislative tiller these days. Last night, again, business finished early, and it is happening more often despite the big backlog of Bills, along with last-minute filler debates. It surely exposes the Government as not being in control of their agenda or their Back Benchers.

This Parliament is almost unique in the world for the Government being able to control almost all the business of the House. The Leader of the House might point to Backbench or Opposition Day debates, but the Government can and do unilaterally decide to shift those debates as they see fit. Many other Parliaments have cross-party bureaux or corporate bodies that determine business, so why not this place? Why not explore an amendable and votable business statement, which would mean that Back Benchers from all parties could have some say in the final decisions, and that business would therefore reflect the majority view? If the Government cannot do the job, I am sure that the rest of the House would gladly take it on. Yes, even the SNP, as we work under the constraints of this place—before we leave for our independent Scotland.

The Leader of the House gave a speech yesterday entitled “Trust in Britain”—a bold heading these days. I agreed with quite a few of her points, including on the importance of freedom, for example, even while I marvelled at her ability to separate her Government and her party from blame for the problems that they have caused. She acknowledged that Parliaments are struggling to be effective and relevant in the modern world. Will she take up the challenge to reform, shake up and place her stamp on this issue? I would recommend the report from University College London’s constitution unit, called “Taking back control”—she would like it.

Secondly, there is some good news about Scotland, which I am sure the Leader of the House will welcome. Analysis by the Institute for Fiscal Studies shows that the Scottish Government’s recent Budget means that the poorest 10% of Scottish families are set to be £580 a year better off than their counterparts in England and Wales. Can we have a debate on what the UK Government can learn from Scotland on protecting the most vulnerable? Surely they are prepared to learn from others on this issue.

Finally, I have a request for the Leader of the House, who likes to use these weekly important business questions —ostensibly about the conduct of her own Government —to answer the questions that she is asked rather than use it purely as a pulpit to attack other democratically elected Governments across the UK. She really needs to understand that the purpose of her being here is to answer for her own Government’s actions, even if that is, understandably, depressing for her.

Business of the House

Debate between Deidre Brock and Lindsay Hoyle
Thursday 26th January 2023

(1 year, 1 month ago)

Commons Chamber
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Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the SNP spokesperson.

Deidre Brock Portrait Deidre Brock (Edinburgh North and Leith) (SNP)
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I, too, pay tribute to the work of the Holocaust Educational Trust, the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust and all organisations and individuals who contribute so much to keeping alive the memory of the millions who were so shamefully murdered.

Today is known to some as Australia Day and to others as Invasion Day, and I pay tribute to the First Nations people of Australia and their long fight for recognition of the dreadful injustices they have suffered since European colonisation in the 1700s.

A Conservative Member, who is clearly bent on establishing himself as some kind of Conservative poundshop Farage, reportedly shouted something loathsome at Prime Minister’s questions yesterday about the 200 asylum-seeking children who are allegedly missing. It was so despicable that I will not repeat it, but the Leader of the House must know its content through the outrage on social media. Will she join me in condemning his remarks, which by victim-blaming potentially 200 missing vulnerable children, marks a new low in dehumanising language towards asylum seekers? We all know behaviour in this place can be raucous and passionate, and that emotions sometimes run very high, but surely we would all join in deploring the language used to attack the poor and defenceless among us.

I have been approached about why important pieces of legislation, such as the media Bill and the Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill, are still in parliamentary purgatory. What can the Leader of the House do to speed that process along? What does she have to say about these delays? The Government always have bucket loads of lame excuses for legislative hold-ups, but I think we know the true reason. A couple of weeks ago, she rather bravely tried to suggest parallels between her party, which is completely engulfed in sleaze and scandal, and mine—a case of whitabootery so bold it would make a sailor blush.

I am therefore pleased to see there will soon be an awayday at Chequers, where we are told that Tory priorities will be discussed. Perhaps the Leader of the House can arrange a statement to the House on those Government priorities, once they are finally agreed. She will not be surprised to hear that my party’s overriding priority is independence, because we see that achieving the full powers of a normal, independent country is the best and, indeed, only way to achieve a fair and progressive society for all our citizens.

However, what priorities do the Government’s actions suggest are important to them? Is it the ability to place donors on influential boards; the introduction of illiberal laws that crush inconvenient human rights and employment and environmental protections; the playing out of the mad dreams of a libertarian future using most of the population as guinea pigs who are unable to protest; or the batting away of the democratically agreed laws of another country’s Parliament with the stroke of a pen? Perhaps we will finally get an insight into that eternal question: just what is it about the Houses of Parliament that first attracted so many wealthy people to stand for office?

Business of the House

Debate between Deidre Brock and Lindsay Hoyle
Thursday 12th January 2023

(1 year, 1 month ago)

Commons Chamber
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Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the SNP spokesperson.

Deidre Brock Portrait Deidre Brock (Edinburgh North and Leith) (SNP)
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Thank you, Mr Speaker, and bliadhna mhath ùr to everyone. Goodness, where to start this week? Panicked draconian legislation trampling workers’ rights, news that £42 billion in unpaid tax is being lost each year to the UK Exchequer and the Secretary of State for Scotland’s claiming yesterday that there is no desire in Scotland to have membership of the EU, which will be news to the estimated 78% of my constituents who voted to remain.

Following questions on the new Westminster Accounts database, we learned that the Prime Minister supports transparency around political donations and outside interests, although oddly it did not seem high on his agenda when I asked him recently about the influence of opaquely funded think-tanks on Government policy. Nor did it seem high up the agenda of the previous three Prime Ministers when I asked them about meetings with bodies such as the infamous Cambridge Analytica, details of which mysteriously failed to appear on ministerial records.

The Prime Minister was asked whether companies that do not seem to exist should donate to MPs, in relation to hefty donations made to some Labour MPs. He must therefore have been very troubled by openDemocracy reports showing that obscure firms with no listed addresses bankrolled hordes of Tory red wall candidates in the last election. Will the Leader of the House tell us whether she supports calls for an inquiry into the donations system to root out secretive campaign finance from our politics and protect our democracy?

Lastly, I note that The Press and Journal yesterday ran an article quoting UK Government sources as saying that Cromarty firth would be one of the sites selected for freeport status, alongside the firth of Forth bid. I have checked with Scottish Government sources, who tell me they have not been consulted on this disclosure ahead of the formal announcement, which is expected on Friday. That is a pretty serious breach of trust when we consider that the Scottish and UK Governments were supposedly working together in partnership on those proposals. It was clearly leaked to the media in yet another pathetic attempt to steal a march on Scotland’s Government. Will the Leader of the House undertake to investigate who decided to bypass protocol in that way? It is no wonder the people of Scotland have so little confidence in Westminster Governments when such infantile games of spin are being played.

Seasonal Worker Visas: Sponsorship Certificates

Debate between Deidre Brock and Lindsay Hoyle
Thursday 8th December 2022

(1 year, 2 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Urgent Questions are proposed each morning by backbench MPs, and up to two may be selected each day by the Speaker. Chosen Urgent Questions are announced 30 minutes before Parliament sits each day.

Each Urgent Question requires a Government Minister to give a response on the debate topic.

This information is provided by Parallel Parliament and does not comprise part of the offical record

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the SNP spokesperson.

Deidre Brock Portrait Deidre Brock (Edinburgh North and Leith) (SNP)
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The Minister might want to look at the failed Pick for Britain scheme in reference to those comments. The National Farmers Union’s findings suggest a shocking £60 million-worth of food had been wasted in the first half of the year because of labour shortages. Of course, if the UK Government had listened to the SNP, free movement would be presenting a solution to many of these issues.

Will the Minister now listen to calls from Scotland’s External Affairs Secretary and consider a 24-month temporary visa rather than the short-term sticking plaster approach that we have seen so far? Will he also consider the proposal made by the SNP Government in 2020 through which migrants wanting to work in Scotland could choose to apply for a Scottish visa as well as the Scottish Government’s call for a rural visa pilot to meet the distinct needs of Scotland’s remote rural and island areas? Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Switzerland all operate successful visa systems that offer a tailored response to the immigration needs of those countries. Why do UK Ministers insist on such a rigid one-size-fits-all approach?

Business of the House

Debate between Deidre Brock and Lindsay Hoyle
Thursday 8th December 2022

(1 year, 2 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the SNP spokesperson.

Deidre Brock Portrait Deidre Brock (Edinburgh North and Leith) (SNP)
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It is a little frustrating that the procedures of this place mean that I have to wait a week before I can respond to comments that the Leader of the House makes in business questions, but the motto of Leith in my constituency is “Persevere!”, so persevere I shall.

The Leader of the House likes to play the schoolmarm, but last week’s efforts deserved 100 lines on context. For example, she said that Scotland has the worst A&E waiting times on record while failing to mention that England’s A&E waiting times are the worst on record too and that Scotland’s are nevertheless considerably better than England’s. Some context, as I am sure any schoolmarm would agree, is important.

I recognise that attack is the best form of defence, but I wonder if the time has come for the Government to install the independent House of Commons fact-checking service that some have called for—a real one, not the Conservative pretendy one we saw in 2019—with instant replay, an adjudication function, a claxon and perhaps a “Three strikes and you’re out” feature.

It has been such an exciting week, and not just for those of us in the Westminster SNP group. The Government are in a shambles again, with further revelations about Baroness Mone, VIP lanes and PPE contracts, and the release of Labour’s “Gordy Broon” commission report, which seems only to have left people wondering why Labour thinks it can impose its constitutional proposals on Scotland because of a democratic mandate it hopes to win at the next election but it will not recognise the democratic mandate for an independence referendum won by the Scottish Government at several elections. He is trying to save his precious Union, with assortments from his big bag of vows, so could the Government perhaps humour an old ex-Prime Minister and allow a debate on the devolution of powers to the so-called extremities—extremities being, of course, everywhere that is not London? Given the mood of current red-wallers on the Conservative Back Benches, it might prove a popular move.

Speaking of popular moves, lastly, I notice that the Leader of the House has been sharing her weekly contributions on the SNP on social media, but if she ever looks below the line, she will notice that the vast majority of comments are from people in Scotland absolutely infuriated by her remarks. And guess what? Just yesterday, a major Scottish poll told us that 56% of our people support independence, and that support for the Tories has crashed to a mere 14%, so I say to her: keep those media clips coming! Her unwitting but welcome embrace of the cause of independence for Scotland will not be forgotten.

COP27

Debate between Deidre Brock and Lindsay Hoyle
Monday 21st November 2022

(1 year, 3 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Urgent Questions are proposed each morning by backbench MPs, and up to two may be selected each day by the Speaker. Chosen Urgent Questions are announced 30 minutes before Parliament sits each day.

Each Urgent Question requires a Government Minister to give a response on the debate topic.

This information is provided by Parallel Parliament and does not comprise part of the offical record

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the SNP spokesperson, Deidre Brock.

Deidre Brock Portrait Deidre Brock (Edinburgh North and Leith) (SNP)
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I also associate myself with the comments about Alaa Abd el-Fattah.

I pay tribute again to the role of the former COP26 President, the right hon. Member for Reading West (Alok Sharma), in the negotiations. Demoting him from the Cabinet sent entirely the wrong message, and I commend the dedication and diligence he brought to the position. The SNP very much welcomes the news of the landmark agreement on loss and damage.

The former COP26 President and many others, including our First Minister, have condemned the agreement’s glaring lack of a clear commitment to ending our dependence on fossil fuels. To keep 1.5° alive, we need urgent action. Will the UK Government commit to building a coalition ahead of COP28 to ensure that phasing down and out fossil fuels forms part of the agreement? Do the UK Government acknowledge that, to have any authority in making this argument, they must recognise the weakness of their own climate compatibility check for new oilfields, which seems designed to enable exploitation of fossil fuels rather than to control and drive them down?

Finally, will the UK Government support discussions, as highlighted at COP and by the Bridgetown agenda, on the reform of multinational development banks to better support climate objectives?

Business of the House

Debate between Deidre Brock and Lindsay Hoyle
Thursday 3rd November 2022

(1 year, 4 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the Scottish National party spokesman, Deidre Brock.

Deidre Brock Portrait Deidre Brock (Edinburgh North and Leith) (SNP)
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Last week the Leader of the House asked me a question, Mr Speaker—and I will answer it, now that I have the opportunity.

The Leader of the House quoted those anonymous but, of course, completely legit—I will pause for a knowing wink here—sources from the EU who apparently told eager journalists something that we have actually all known for a very long time: that countries applying to join the EU, as Scotland can once it regains its independence, must commit themselves to joining the euro at some point in the future. Now, the Leader of the House may not know this, but there are in fact seven countries that have been in the EU for between nine and 27 years and still use their own choice of currency—Sweden, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czechia, Hungary, Poland and Romania —so that is not quite the gotcha that Unionists thought it was.

Given the slide in the value of the pound, from $1.64 in 2014 to just $1.13 today, and after the mad ride of the last few weeks, I am not sure that this Government think all that much of the pound anyway. For the purpose of further useful insights for both the Leader of the House and the Labour Front Benchers, enabling them to acquire some grown-up, stepped-up facts on the issues, I suggest that they look out the series of papers that the Scottish Government are producing on all things Scottish independence. A debate on those would, I think, be very useful to the House.

COP27 will take place next week. I was pleased to learn that the Prime Minister has relented and will now be joining our First Minister at Sharm El-Sheikh, but once the dust has settled on that world event, there really should be a Government debate on the outcomes of COP, examining the role that the UK Government played in negotiations and, crucially, how they intend to step up to their responsibilities in tackling the climate crisis. We cannot allow the terrible economic crisis that we face, or even Russia’s dreadful war in Ukraine, to deflect us from our climate obligations. UN reports have warned that the world is close to irreversible breakdown, with no credible path to even the 1.5° C global warming target.

According to a Public Accounts Committee report released on Wednesday, the UK Government’s commitment that the public sector should “lead by example” in meeting net zero is not being fulfilled. The report criticised the poor quality of emissions measuring and reporting, among other things. Just this week, we learned that parts of this place are apparently producing and leaking heat at an alarming rate. I hope the Leader of the House will be taking up those findings with the House services, and I am sure that you, Mr Speaker, will be taking an interest in them as well. The Prime Minister and his Ministers need to front up and reassure the House and the public that they are taking their climate responsibilities seriously. A debate on this in Government time is essential.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Deidre Brock and Lindsay Hoyle
Wednesday 2nd November 2022

(1 year, 4 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the SNP spokesperson.

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

The COP President worked hard in his role and achieved some worthwhile results at Glasgow’s COP26 on commitments such as the declaration on forest and land use, and I commend him for that. I certainly do not think he deserved to be demoted from Cabinet, along with the Climate Minister, just weeks before his handover and at a time when sensible voices on the climate crisis are needed around the Cabinet table more than ever. Does the Secretary of State agree that the PM’s decision sets a poor example to other countries, let alone to us in the UK? Can she tell us who will be driving forward these important international commitments in the future?

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Deidre Brock and Lindsay Hoyle
Monday 24th October 2022

(1 year, 4 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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You are meant to work through the Chair, Secretary of State. If you could do so, it would be very helpful, because at least then I could hear you as well.

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

8. What recent discussions he has had with his counterparts in the devolved Administrations on the potential merits of providing additional support for school pupils and higher education students in the context of increases in the cost of living.

Business of the House

Debate between Deidre Brock and Lindsay Hoyle
Thursday 13th October 2022

(1 year, 4 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the Scottish National party spokes- person, Deidre Brock.

Deidre Brock Portrait Deidre Brock (Edinburgh North and Leith) (SNP)
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Let me begin by associating myself with the comments of the Leader of the House about Sir David Amess.

We are struggling through particularly difficult days, and the Prime Minister’s desperate deflection from the topic of the economic crisis, and her Business Secretary’s refusal even to admit that the dramatic crash just after the mini-Budget had anything to do with it, fail to reassure. However, this was also a week in which Tory politicians clutched their pearls in horror to discover that many people in the UK—including our First Minister in Scotland—do not like the fact that they support a party whose increasingly chaotic mismanagement and cold-hearted political ideology are viewed with utter abhorrence.

It seems that this blindness to reality goes all the way to the top. In her conference speech, the Prime Minister said:

“I know what it is like to live somewhere that isn’t feeling the benefits of economic growth. I grew up in Paisley and in Leeds in the 80s and 90s. I have seen the boarded-up shops…I have seen families struggling to put food on the table.”

That was an odd reference, given that those were of course the days of the Government of her hero, the late Margaret Thatcher—although, as she seems intent on returning us to those days, perhaps not. After all, this Government are threatening “iron discipline” on spending and “difficult decisions” coming down the line. May we therefore have a debate entitled “Economic History: Lessons Learned”? I understand that the Chancellor studied that subject at Cambridge; I think it is about time he had a refresher.

This week sees the start of the independence referendum Supreme Court case. I note that back in June 2014, before the last independence referendum, the Scotland Office issued a research and analysis sheet on the Scots’ personal finance, which stated:

“As part of the UK, our savings are protected by UK-wide institutions and the costs of the essentials you spend money on—like energy and mortgage bills—are kept lower and more stable than they would otherwise be.”

Just how far removed that is from where we find ourselves today would almost be funny were it not so frightening for our constituents. May we have a debate examining the promises—the vows, if you like—made to the Scottish people at the time of the last referendum which have let them down so badly, to ensure that they will not be misled again before the next one?

Business of the House

Debate between Deidre Brock and Lindsay Hoyle
Thursday 8th September 2022

(1 year, 5 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I welcome the new SNP spokesperson, Deidre Brock.

Deidre Brock Portrait Deidre Brock (Edinburgh North and Leith) (SNP)
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Thank you, Mr Speaker. I welcome the Leader of the House to her new position and look forward to working with her and the shadow Leader of the House. I pay tribute to my energetic and witty predecessor, who enlivened many a session in this place over many years.

I welcome the news of the Government’s general debate on energy costs today, where the Prime Minister will finally detail the support to be offered to our many constituents who are struggling at this time. I believe she will also detail exactly what the Government plan to do about fracking and increasing oil and gas extraction, while remaining committed to their manifesto commitment to net zero by 2050.

Exciting times, eh, Mr Speaker? We have an exciting new Cabinet packed with exciting new talents: hard-line Brexiters, climate change sceptics and free marketers. We have a new Justice Secretary infamous for being prepared to break international law in a “limited and specific way”, and a Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy whose desk apparently does not boast a computer and who is on record as being a climate change denier. Obviously, they are raring to go and get stuck in—keen as mustard, like kids in their first week at school. And there are more announcements to come. Who knows what fresh delights await us?

I have a couple of questions, Mr Speaker. First, can the right hon. Lady confirm whether the newspaper reports are correct and the so-called Bill of Rights is, to the relief of so many, finally being booted up into the Back Benches with the former Justice Secretary—its biggest fan—or whether it is only simmering on the Government’s back burner until the new PM decides once again that just what the long-suffering people of these isles really need is politicians fiddling around with basic human rights that do not need to be fiddled around with?

Finally, other newspaper reports caused quite a stir in Scotland over the weekend by stating that the Government plan to introduce a referendum Bill setting out the rules under which they will permit the Scottish people a choice in their future again. Will the Leader of the House confirm that that is their intention? I remind her that if the arbitrary threshold suggested had been applied to the Conservative leadership election, the right hon. Member for South West Norfolk (Elizabeth Truss) would not be Prime Minister, and that under it both the campaign to leave the EU and the Conservatives’ 2019 election bid would have fallen well short in England, let alone in Scotland. Clearly the Government have not learned anything from the last time Scots were cheated out of a result in a referendum in—[Interruption.] In 1979. The good news for us is that such desperate attempts to rig our independence referendum expose the desperation in Unionist ranks. They know that when we hold that referendum, we are going to win it.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I gently say—everybody is doing it, but it is a new day—that the limit is two minutes and we were almost at three there.

Net Zero Strategy: High Court Ruling

Debate between Deidre Brock and Lindsay Hoyle
Thursday 21st July 2022

(1 year, 7 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the Scottish National party spokes- person, Deidre Brock.

Deidre Brock Portrait Deidre Brock (Edinburgh North and Leith) (SNP)
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The judge ruled that the Minister could not have “rationally” reached the conclusions he did or made the decisions he did as a consequence of his lack of information in making the policy. If, as the judge ruled, the Minister could not have “rationally” made his decisions, on what irrational basis did he make them?

What confidence has the Minister that his Government’s climate policy can be fixed when both candidates for his party's leadership are at best lukewarm on climate issues, and at worst willing to sacrifice net zero? The Foreign Secretary said this morning that she would scrap the green levies, for example.

It is estimated that Scotland is missing out on 2,500 green jobs owing to the languid pace at which the UK Government are developing the renewables sector. Does the Minister agree that the UK Government should devolve financial powers to Scotland so that the Scottish Government can push forward renewables and clean technologies where the UK Government have failed to do so?

In 2020, the Met Office conducted a hypothetical thought experiment to determine what the weather would be like in 2050 if climate change accelerated as expected. Several of those projections are coming true now, 28 years early. Does the Minister not agree that it is vital for our plans to fight climate change to be up to the job, and that the next Prime Minister must remain completely committed to that fight?

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Deidre Brock and Lindsay Hoyle
Wednesday 20th July 2022

(1 year, 7 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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We now come to the Scottish National party spokesperson, Deidre Brock.

Deidre Brock Portrait Deidre Brock (Edinburgh North and Leith) (SNP)
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The recent Climate Change Committee’s progress report concludes that the UK Government’s net zero strategy contains warm words but little tangible progress, and that it will not be fully credible until the Government develop contingency plans such as encouraging reduced consumer demand for high carbon activities. It also recommends carrying out a net zero tax review to see how that might best support the transition by correcting the distortions that often penalise low-carbon technologies. Do the Government intend to take action on these specific recommendations, and what will the President do to ensure that the next Prime Minister and Chancellor urgently act on all the Committee’s recommendations?

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Deidre Brock and Lindsay Hoyle
Wednesday 15th June 2022

(1 year, 8 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the SNP spokesperson.

Deidre Brock Portrait Deidre Brock (Edinburgh North and Leith) (SNP)
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The COP26 President will be aware of concerns raised about aspects of biomass, so how does he intend to ensure that carbon emissions from this sector and businesses such as wood-burning power stations are reflected in the reformed UK emissions trading system? How does he think the COP commitment to protect the world’s forests aligns with existing UK Government policies for burning imported wood and the considerable UK Government subsidies given to this industry?

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Deidre Brock and Lindsay Hoyle
Wednesday 20th April 2022

(1 year, 10 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the SNP spokesperson, Deidre Brock.

Deidre Brock Portrait Deidre Brock (Edinburgh North and Leith) (SNP)
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Facebook promoted ads containing outright climate falsehoods and scepticism during COP26, and it is reported that fossil fuel companies and lobbying groups spent an estimated $574,000 on Facebook ads during the summit, resulting in more than 22 million impressions. Many of these ads were directly aimed at undermining efforts to achieve climate progress. Does the COP26 President agree that the best way such businesses can help in the fight against climate change is to put the planet before their profits and come down hard on the climate naysayers? What action has he been taking to address that?

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Deidre Brock and Lindsay Hoyle
Thursday 27th January 2022

(2 years, 1 month ago)

Commons Chamber
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Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the SNP spokesperson.

Deidre Brock Portrait Deidre Brock (Edinburgh North and Leith) (SNP)
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The Scottish Government—rather sensibly, I think—are awaiting the outcome of the EU review of genome-edited and genetically modified organism products, but the UK Government are pushing rapidly to introduce the production of genetically engineered crops and foodstuffs in England. Through the back-door route in the United Kingdom Internal Market Act 2020, they will enter the rest of the UK even if devolved Governments continue to prohibit them. Will any GE or GMO foods introduced in England be labelled as such so that consumers throughout the UK can make informed decisions about the food that they put in their mouth?

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Deidre Brock and Lindsay Hoyle
Thursday 9th December 2021

(2 years, 2 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the SNP spokesperson, Deirdre Brock.

Deidre Brock Portrait Deidre Brock (Edinburgh North and Leith) (SNP)
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I welcome the new shadow Minister and the new shadow Secretary of State to their places. I commend the shadow Secretary of State’s predecessor, because I always found him a very diligent, knowledgeable and collegiate opposite number, and I look forward to working with the new team in the same vein.

After our exit from the EU, agricultural support for our farmers is changing throughout the UK, but support levels remain higher in Scotland than in England, and farming improvements are encouraged and promoted through our direct payment scheme. Will the Minister confirm that the UK Government will not, under any circumstances, attempt to use the United Kingdom Internal Market Act 2020 or the forthcoming Subsidy Control Bill to undermine agricultural support in Scotland, or attempt to lower it to the levels in England?

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Deidre Brock and Lindsay Hoyle
Wednesday 19th May 2021

(2 years, 9 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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Order. If somebody wants to do a little tapping, there is room outside for that.

Deidre Brock Portrait Deidre Brock (Edinburgh North and Leith) (SNP)
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What recent discussions he has had with the Welsh Government on the adequacy of the fiscal settlement.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Deidre Brock and Lindsay Hoyle
Thursday 26th November 2020

(3 years, 3 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the SNP spokesperson.

Deidre Brock Portrait Deidre Brock (Edinburgh North and Leith) (SNP)
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I, too, associate myself with the Secretary of State’s remarks. That reminds us why this industry is so important to us and why it tugs at our hearts when we hear of such sad events.

Tariffs are a great worry for many other sectors as well. Tariffs of a possible 48% are a huge concern for the sheep sector, so the Secretary of State’s suggestion that sheep farmers could simply switch to beef production if punitive lamb tariffs cause their business models to crash has angered many Scottish farmers and crofters, who have spent many years building up the high reputation that Scotch lamb enjoys for quality. The National Sheep Association Scotland has called for assurances that a compensation scheme will be ready and waiting. What details can he outline today of such a scheme?