Debates between Richard Thomson and Lindsay Hoyle during the 2019 Parliament

Mon 29th Jan 2024
Post Office Ltd
Commons Chamber
(Urgent Question)
Wed 8th Nov 2023
British Steel
Commons Chamber
(Urgent Question)
Wed 6th Sep 2023
Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill
Commons Chamber

Consideration of Lords messageConsideration of Lords Message
Thu 10th Feb 2022
Wed 10th Mar 2021

Post Office Ltd

Debate between Richard Thomson and Lindsay Hoyle
Monday 29th January 2024

(4 weeks, 1 day 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.

Richard Thomson Portrait Richard Thomson (Gordon) (SNP)
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Surely if ever there was a time to consider removing Mr Staunton from his post, it was after it emerged last year that bonuses were being paid to Post Office executives simply for doing what I think we would all expect them to: co-operating fully with the Horizon inquiry. I think that people will be forgiven for having the suspicion that, when it comes to Horizon, Ministers have been a bit like the Japanese moon lander, suddenly bursting to life as soon as a bit of light is shone on them, in this case by an ITV programme.

I have two questions. First, Fujitsu’s representatives told the Business and Trade Committee a fortnight ago that Fujitsu had a “moral obligation” to contribute to the financial redress for the victims. Has the Secretary of State had any discussions yet with Fujitsu about how and when that might happen, as well as about the size of the contribution that it might make? Secondly, with regard to the continued unexplained shortfalls in Horizon, will the Government commit to revealing how much in excess the Post Office claimed back from staff, resorting to forensic accountancy if required?

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Richard Thomson and Lindsay Hoyle
Thursday 25th January 2024

(1 month ago)

Commons Chamber
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Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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Do not tempt me—you are doing well! I call the SNP spokesperson.

Richard Thomson Portrait Richard Thomson (Gordon) (SNP)
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I would like to give the Minister another chance, because that was pretty dismal stuff even by his standards. India has one of the poorest human rights records in the world when it comes to child labour. To give the Minister an opportunity to get us to a position where we could potentially support a deal, will he explain how Ministers and the Government are engaging with negotiators in India to tackle child labour there and to ensure that the United Kingdom does not become complicit in that exploitation?

--- Later in debate ---
Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the SNP spokesperson.

Richard Thomson Portrait Richard Thomson (Gordon) (SNP)
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Will the Secretary of State please confirm that this Government have no plans to alter the legislation on the marketing of infant formula and other breastmilk substitutes?

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Richard Thomson and Lindsay Hoyle
Wednesday 17th January 2024

(1 month, 1 week ago)

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

Richard Thomson Portrait Richard Thomson (Gordon) (SNP)
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Given the length of time it takes in many cases to gather the supporting evidence to make a claim under the scheme, the pressures on the payments board itself, and the strong likelihood that many of those who are potentially eligible are yet to apply, it is clear that there is a risk that many who could be eligible for a payment might miss out as things stand. One way the Secretary of State could mitigate that is by extending the period allowed for claims to be made and processed. As part of the review, will he consider extending that deadline?

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Richard Thomson and Lindsay Hoyle
Thursday 30th November 2023

(2 months, 4 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.

Richard Thomson Portrait Richard Thomson (Gordon) (SNP)
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How strange the change from minor to major in that response. Financial transparency and accountability are essential components of economic stability. For three years now, the Government have been promising legislation and improved checks on company finances, but they have repeatedly failed to deliver. How can the Minister justify leaving the audit and governance Bill out of the King’s Speech, when it is supported by businesses, regulators and auditors alike?

Autumn Statement Resolutions

Debate between Richard Thomson and Lindsay Hoyle
Monday 27th November 2023

(3 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Richard Thomson Portrait Richard Thomson (Gordon) (SNP)
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Against a pretty horrendous economic backdrop, it was with bated breath and no little trepidation that we on the SNP Benches waited to see what the Chancellor would drop. The backdrop is certainly about as far removed as anyone could ever have hoped it would have been going into such a crucial period. Not only is GDP per capita still not above 2019 pre-pandemic levels, but the UK is expected to suffer the biggest fall in living standards since records began in the 1950s. Most people are expected to be worse off in 2027 than they were in 2019. Real incomes are also expected to be lower in 2027 than they were in 2019. A typical household will be worse off by approximately £694 per annum by 2027-28 as a result of the policies of this Conservative Government who are so adamant, in the face of all outcomes and facts, that they get the big decisions right. That is certainly not borne out by the outlook for the economy under their stewardship.

Sadly, there was nothing at all in the Chancellor’s statement that offered any kind of meaningful change for the millions of people in Scotland and elsewhere who are really struggling right now against that economic backdrop. Last week’s announcements were a clear reminder for people in Scotland, if any were needed, that we cannot hope to build a fair, dynamic economy while being tied to UK Governments who, through their actions, do not reflect the preferences, choices or values that people consistently express at the ballot box when they go to vote.

On the statement, there is the old proverb about the couple who stop for directions and are told, rather unhelpfully, “I wouldn’t be starting from here.” Let us not be in any doubt: we certainly would not wish to be starting from here. We would not wish to be labouring with the aftermath of Brexit, which has permanently given the UK economy the effect of trying to drive a car with the handbrake wedged firmly on. We certainly would not be coming off the back of the catastrophic Budget driven by the right hon. Members for Spelthorne (Kwasi Kwarteng) and for South West Norfolk (Elizabeth Truss), which blew up the economy. Despite that, and in spite of everything, the Chancellor did have slightly more headroom—about £20 billion—than had been forecast. The question was: how would he seek to put that to work?

I will start with the few positives I can find. The uplifting of benefits by 6.7% in line with the higher rate of inflation really is the least the Chancellor could have done. It will still leave too many people struggling and wondering how they are going to pay their bills. It was the very least that should have been done on uplifting the rate. Uplifting the local housing allowance was important. My party called for, and we welcome, allowing rates of housing benefit to be paid at rates that more closely match where the market actually is. A freeze in whisky duty certainly does not undo the damage of the spring Budget, where a 10.1% levy was whacked on the spirit, but at least it makes things no worse.

If the House will permit me, I would like to take the opportunity, while I have a captive audience on the Treasury Bench, to explain why whisky duty matters. The Scotch whisky industry supports 10,000 jobs in Scotland and 42,000 jobs across the whole of the UK. It also represents 25% of total UK food and drink exports. One would think that this is an industry that the Government would want to look after, nurture, take care of and give every possible opportunity to succeed. The level of duty affects domestic consumption and also affects the investment that goes into supporting those jobs. But here’s the rub: it also impacts how other jurisdictions in key markets, particularly the Asian markets, react, because many of them take their cue from the level of duty set by the UK Government. If they see the UK Government setting a rate of duty where there is a gigantic differential between indigenous spirits such as Scotch whisky and other drinks in the market, then they have absolutely no qualms about following suit. That depresses potential sales in key emerging markets and reduces the opportunities we have to drive growth and innovation in that key sector at home.

As for the bigger picture, nothing in the Chancellor’s statement offered meaningful change to the millions of people out there who are suffering at the moment. What the statement did offer was a clear reminder that, as I have said, the key powers over the commanding heights of the economy will do nothing for Scotland while they continue to remain under the control of Governments who do not share the values that people vote for. Sadly, as the soaring cost of household bills outpaces the limited help that was on offer in the statement, the reality is that what was offered is far too little, coming far too late for the squeezed majority of households.

The SNP set what I thought were some pretty basic fundamental tests for the statement: a relatively small number of asks that could nevertheless have made a big difference. We asked for a £400 energy rebate, something that the UK Government have sadly failed to provide although energy bills continue to be roughly double what they were in 2021—and moreover, the day after the statement the energy price cap was increased by a further 5%. We challenged the UK Government to match the council tax freeze by the SNP Government in Edinburgh, which will put a disproportionately high amount of money into the pockets of the lowest earners. We also challenged them to match the game-changing Scottish child payment of £25 a week, another measure that is putting thousands of pounds into the pockets of those who need it most. That payment was highlighted in a recent blog by the London School of Economics as one of the key reasons why the level of child poverty in Scotland—although far too high—is still significantly lower than it is in any other part of the UK.

The UK Government could also have given some respite to hard-pressed homeowners, many of whom are looking down the barrel of significant increases in their mortgage payments as a result of higher interest rates. They could have done that by introducing mortgage interest rate relief, but they chose not to do so.

For my part of Scotland, the north-east, we challenged the UK Government to match what the Scottish Government are doing in kick-starting the energy revolution, the green transition that we need—to match the £500 million set aside purely for the north-east—but we got nothing, although we know how crucial that energy transition is to ensuring fairness, retaining human capital and prosperity, and delivering the changes that not only our economy but our planet needs.

We are invited to believe that the goal of the statement was growth. Let me draw attention to two key areas in which the UK Government have, in my view, been found to be badly wanting. The first is capital spending. There are obviously pressures to maintain existing assets, as we all know from the emergence of the problems that reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete has caused in many public sector buildings constructed over the past 40 years. We can see the waste caused by overspending: the horrendous waste of money represented by some of the stations in central London on the Elizabeth line, a railway that did go ahead, and by the cancellation of HS2 and the bits of that line that did not go ahead. However, we need to recognise the importance not just of private sector capital expenditure, but of the key driving, galvanising force that capital expenditure from the Government and the public sector can have. It drives and encourages investment from the private sector, and, crucially, it increases the productive capacity of each and every one of us. It is therefore unfathomable that the UK Government should cut the Scottish Government’s capital budget by 6.7% between 2023-24 and 2027-28—a figure that will potentially become even higher if inflation persists at its current levels—all the while refusing to devolve long-term borrowing powers.

Secondly, there is a persistent negative when it comes to research and development. There are parts of the UK that punch pretty well above their weight in that regard, most obviously the south-east of England and London but also Scotland. However, there are other parts, such as the regions of England and also Wales, where R&D spending is significantly below the share of GDP, and also below the share of the population that might be expected to be able to attract it. Beyond that, the UK’s investment in research and development consistently lags that of EU competitors such as France and Germany, which is a major drag on long-term growth and economic opportunities for all our constituents.

Looking through the additional spends and revenues forgone as a result of the statement, it seems to me—I am happy to be proved wrong—that the Government are committing more to returning full business rates to the combined authorities in Greater Manchester and the west midlands than they are to research and development or anything that might drive that forward. Lest anyone assail me, I have absolutely no grudge against the west midlands of England or the Greater Manchester combined authority—more power to them! I do not know whether the Greater Manchester combined authority extends to Chorley, Mr Speaker—

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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We are in Lancashire.

Richard Thomson Portrait Richard Thomson
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Perhaps some reflected benefit will come through. Those authorities are entitled to every penny that they can get back from this Government, and I wish them well in that endeavour, but it pales in comparison with the strategic importance of research and development, in policy terms and numerically. Until the Government get to grips with the long-term lack of investment in our public sector, our human capital, our physical capital and our R&D, we can expect the country to lag behind.

It is no secret that I come here as a supporter of Scottish independence. I would dearly love to see Governments in Scotland being able to make their own budgets, constrained only by the limits of their own resources, their own choices, their own imaginations and their own political mandates, and with restrictions placed on them by nowhere else. But until that day comes, we are stuck with what this Government and potential UK Governments come forward with, which, I have to say, we find badly wanting.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Richard Thomson and Lindsay Hoyle
Wednesday 22nd November 2023

(3 months, 1 week ago)

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

Richard Thomson Portrait Richard Thomson (Gordon) (SNP)
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May I associate myself with the Secretary of State’s remarks on the anniversary of the Birmingham pub bombings? Our thoughts continue to be with all who are affected by that tragedy to this day.

The UK Government, as we have just heard, are holding back levelling-up funding for Northern Ireland, ostensibly because of the lack of a functioning Executive. However, the UK Government are seemingly content to bypass the views of the Governments in place in Edinburgh and Cardiff in allocating levelling-up funding. Is the point of consistency not about a desire to level up, but just that there is a shortage of Conservative MPs in Northern Ireland who need to shore up their re-election prospects with public cash?

British Steel

Debate between Richard Thomson and Lindsay Hoyle
Wednesday 8th November 2023

(3 months, 3 weeks 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
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I call the Scottish National party spokesperson.

Richard Thomson Portrait Richard Thomson (Gordon) (SNP)
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May I begin by expressing my concerns on behalf of the 2,000 workers who are likely to be affected by this announcement? Also, I re-emphasise, as other contributors have, the importance of virgin steelmaking, not just in terms of security, but in meeting demand in the construction industry, where inflation is already racing ahead and our ability to build things will not be helped by being further away from the supply chain and reducing domestic capacity in steelmaking.

The Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit think-tank has said:

“Ageing blast furnaces need to be replaced and upgraded to produce greener steel…electric arc furnaces have a role in recycling steel”,

but

“failing to invest in modern hydrogen furnaces belies the government’s promises to invest for the longer term.”

Just as in the oil and gas sector, what plans do the UK Government have for a just transition for the steelmaking workforce? What support will the UK Government be giving to the development of hydrogen furnaces in the UK? What challenges will they put constructively to British Steel over these plans? Given the Government’s high-profile retreats on other climate measures, such as the date for banning the sale of internal combustion engine cars, how much faith can the industry have in any guarantees that the Government do make?

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Richard Thomson and Lindsay Hoyle
Thursday 14th September 2023

(5 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.

Richard Thomson Portrait Richard Thomson (Gordon) (SNP)
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As if the future stoking of inflation through extra Brexit red tape was not bad enough, businesses are already having to cope with uncertainty, the lack of a level playing field and the threat to our own food safety and security through the failure to introduce checks of our own. Given that Ministers were saying as recently as April that those checks will begin on 31 March, can the Minister explain how businesses are expected to get to grips with all this turmoil in Government policy given their tendency to keep kicking the can down the road over border checks?

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Richard Thomson and Lindsay Hoyle
Wednesday 6th September 2023

(5 months, 3 weeks ago)

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

Richard Thomson Portrait Richard Thomson (Gordon) (SNP)
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The cost of living crisis is clearly continuing to bite hard in Northern Ireland, with footfall at stores across Northern Ireland falling by 5% throughout August. What steps is the Department taking to enable people to take full advantage of the highly privileged economic status and market access that Northern Ireland now has, which this Government have deprived to the rest of the UK?

Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill

Debate between Richard Thomson and Lindsay Hoyle
Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the Scottish National party spokesperson.

Richard Thomson Portrait Richard Thomson (Gordon) (SNP)
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I am well aware that time is limited; you will be pleased to hear, Mr Speaker, that so too is my capacity for repeating arguments that I have made many times previously. My party believes that this Bill is wrong in principle and that in practice it will not achieve the aims that the Secretary of State believes, no doubt with great sincerity, that it will. We will therefore be joining the official Opposition in voting to support the Lords amendments.

Police Service of Northern Ireland: Security and Data Protection Breach

Debate between Richard Thomson and Lindsay Hoyle
Monday 4th September 2023

(5 months, 3 weeks 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.

Richard Thomson Portrait Richard Thomson (Gordon) (SNP)
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I join the Secretary of State in offering my thanks to Simon Byrne for his service. I believe his decision today, however, is the right one. This represented a shocking breach of confidentiality not just in relation to people’s personal data, but a shocking breach in the confidence that PSNI officers and staff can have in the organisation. I pay tribute to the dedicated PSNI officers and staff who daily protect and serve the people of Northern Ireland.

The PSNI, as has been alluded to, is already suffering a crisis of funding and therefore resourcing. The officer complement is lower than it has been in the police service serving Northern Ireland than at any point since 1979. The UK Government pay £30 million a year in additional funding to meet the security challenge, but that funding was inadequate even before the breach and is surely even more inadequate now. Will the Secretary of State be a little clearer on exactly how he will give funding guarantees to the PSNI going forward, because I do not believe this is something where the buck can be passed entirely to those who are currently charged with administering devolved budgets?

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Richard Thomson and Lindsay Hoyle
Thursday 29th June 2023

(8 months ago)

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

Richard Thomson Portrait Richard Thomson (Gordon) (SNP)
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The Scottish seafood industry has been hit with an estimated 50% increase in the cost of packaging owing to the requirement—thanks to the form of Brexit chosen by this Government—for export health certificates with every consignment. Does the Secretary of State accept that the form of Brexit that was chosen, and in particular the failure to align in respect of sanitary and phytosanitary matters, is adding costs to Scotland’s iconic seafood sector at a time when it can barely afford to absorb such costs?

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Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the SNP spokesperson.

Richard Thomson Portrait Richard Thomson (Gordon) (SNP)
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This week, the European Council adopted the EU’s free trade agreement with New Zealand, which includes dedicated sustainable food systems chapters, a dedicated trade and gender equality article, and a provision on trade and fossil fuel subsidies reforms. Can the Secretary of State explain why our trade deal with New Zealand, if it is so good, fell so far short on those issues?

Business of the House

Debate between Richard Thomson and Lindsay Hoyle
Thursday 29th June 2023

(8 months ago)

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

Richard Thomson Portrait Richard Thomson (Gordon) (SNP)
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I thank the Leader of the House for the business and I endorse everything that the shadow Leader of the House said in relation to standards.

I would like to begin by paying tribute to former Scotland manager Craig Brown, one of two great Scots we lost this week. Winifred Margaret Ewing changed the course of Scottish politics when she won her triumphant by-election victory to this place in Hamilton in 1967. Winnie had the distinction of serving across three different Parliaments and opening the Scottish Parliament in 1999. There is no one who did more to popularise and internationalise the cause of Scottish independence. We will miss her greatly.

In Scotland this week, the iconic Caledonian Sleeper rail service was returned to public ownership, where it joined ScotRail, LNER—London North Eastern Railway—Northern Rail, Southeastern, Transport for Wales and TransPennine Express. Although they are often referred to as operators of last resort, experience shows that they make excellent operators of first resort. Perhaps the conclusion to draw is that some things just naturally belong in public ownership, like the water industry in Scotland. Given the current travails of Thames Water, may I suggest that the Leader of the House make time available for a debate on why the public interest should always take precedence over private profit not only in the rail sector but in the provision of water?

I understand that it is the Leader of the House’s custom and practice to spend almost as much time responding to what the SNP spokesperson says as criticising public services in Scotland. Before she gets to that, may I ask that she make time for debates on why six police forces in England continue to remain in special measures and why a report published today shows that NHS staff sickness in England has hit a record high, so that we can find out what the Government intend to do about it?

This is the first time that I have had the honour of responding for my party at business questions. As much as I am looking forward to the Leader of the House’s responses, I am looking forward very much to the inevitable YouTube clip that will follow. In Victorian times, similarly sensationalist outputs were often referred to as “penny dreadfuls”. I very much hope that the Leader of the House does not disappoint in that regard.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Richard Thomson and Lindsay Hoyle
Wednesday 21st June 2023

(8 months, 1 week ago)

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

Richard Thomson Portrait Richard Thomson (Gordon) (SNP)
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Beyond the cost of living crisis, there is a crisis facing public services across Northern Ireland. To give one very pertinent example, the chief constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, Simon Byrne, reported to the policing board last month that the force faced a budget gap of some £141 million. That is a gap that can only be met by cutting police numbers further. Given that police numbers are already at 6,500, which is 1,000 below the recommended establishment figure quoted by Chris Patten and the lowest number since 1978, that is clearly a poor situation. Given the severe terror threat, what will the UK Government do to ensure that Northern Ireland has a police force capable of meeting continued security challenges, as well as meeting the needs of the communities the police force is there to serve?

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Richard Thomson and Lindsay Hoyle
Thursday 15th June 2023

(8 months, 2 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
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Richard Thomson Portrait Richard Thomson
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The Under-Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, the hon. Member for Bishop Auckland (Dehenna Davison), said that the evaluation of anecdotal feedback shows that the roll-out of voter ID has been successful. The Electoral Commission warned that the introduction of voter ID should be delayed until after the English local elections in May—

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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Order. The hon. Gentleman is meant to be speaking through the Chair. The advantage of doing it this way is that we do not personalise things.

Richard Thomson Portrait Richard Thomson
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My apologies, Mr Speaker.

Does the Electoral Commission now share similar views to the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities that the roll-out of voter ID has been a success?

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Richard Thomson and Lindsay Hoyle
Thursday 18th 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.

Richard Thomson Portrait Richard Thomson (Gordon) (SNP)
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If we take the Minister at his word that tariffs are coming down, that does not seem to be making much difference to the prices that people are paying at the supermarkets. Governments across Europe are taking action to tackle soaring food prices caused by what is termed greedflation. For example, in Ireland, supermarkets have been given a six-week ultimatum to bring down food prices; in France, the Government have agreed with retailers to keep the price of essential foodstuffs to the bare minimum; and Italy has set up a commission to monitor unusual movements in prices. Do Ministers accept that action to protect consumers from corporate greed is necessary and urgent?

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Richard Thomson and Lindsay Hoyle
Wednesday 22nd March 2023

(11 months, 1 week ago)

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

Richard Thomson Portrait Richard Thomson (Gordon) (SNP)
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Jonathan Haskel, an external member of the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee, has estimated that Brexit has resulted in the loss of approximately £29 billion of business investment to the UK as a whole. Does the Minister believe that the Windsor framework will undo the proportion of the damage that has been done to the Northern Irish economy? If so, why does he consider the market access that that framework underpins to be good enough for one part of the United Kingdom but not good enough for the rest of us?

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Richard Thomson and Lindsay Hoyle
Thursday 9th February 2023

(1 year ago)

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

Richard Thomson Portrait Richard Thomson (Gordon) (SNP)
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Unfortunately for the Minister, and unfortunately for Scotland, the latest data from His Majesty’s Revenue and Customs shows that between July and September last year, exports from Scotland to the European Union slumped by 5%. Will the Minister explain for an expectant nation exactly how that is in any way strengthening the case for the Union?

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Richard Thomson and Lindsay Hoyle
Thursday 15th December 2022

(1 year, 2 months ago)

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

Richard Thomson Portrait Richard Thomson (Gordon) (SNP)
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The New Zealand trade deal will mean an expected £150 million hit to agriculture and food-related industries each year. An impact analysis shows that the Australia trade deal will mean an expected £94 million hit to farming and a £225 million hit to food processing each year. On top of that, UK food and drink exports to the EU have already fallen, despite what the Minister says, by more than £1.3 billion, because of the Brexit deal that this Government signed. Given that mounting charge sheet, how can farmers and food producers in this country ever again trust a word that the Tories say?

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Richard Thomson and Lindsay Hoyle
Wednesday 9th November 2022

(1 year, 3 months ago)

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

Richard Thomson Portrait Richard Thomson (Gordon) (SNP)
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May I take the opportunity to associate myself and my party with the Secretary of State’s remarks about the 35th anniversary of the bombing in Enniskillen? Our thoughts are with all those who continue, to this day, to be affected by that event.

Maroš Šefčovič has said that

“if there is political will”,

issues around the Northern Ireland protocol could be resolved

“within a couple of weeks.”

Does the Secretary of State understand the political damage that has been caused by the Government’s failure to begin negotiations on the issue earlier in the year? Will he commit to doing all he can to achieve a negotiated settlement before the year is out?

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Richard Thomson and Lindsay Hoyle
Wednesday 22nd 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.

Richard Thomson Portrait Richard Thomson (Gordon) (SNP)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

I have to remind the Secretary of State that it was this Government who signed up to the trade and co-operation agreement and the Northern Ireland protocol as it currently stands. It might not be necessary to try to renegotiate had more time been given over to this Chamber to allow Members to scrutinise it before it entered into law. Does the Secretary of State regret the decision taken by the Government to curtail the amount of parliamentary time available to Members to scrutinise that before Brexit was done?

Northern Ireland Protocol

Debate between Richard Thomson and Lindsay Hoyle
Tuesday 17th May 2022

(1 year, 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, Richard Thomson.

Richard Thomson Portrait Richard Thomson (Gordon) (SNP)
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I thank the Foreign Secretary for advance sight of her statement. We have heard plenty about the alleged shortcomings of the protocol, but there should be acknowledgement of the Government’s role in negotiating it; that does not even seem to have reached the level of being limited and specific, from what we have heard today. Ultimately the problem this legislation purports to deal with is not to do with the protocol, which was made necessary by the kind of Brexit that the Government eventually negotiated; the seed of the problem was in the very nature of the settlement.

Neither my colleagues nor I deny for one moment the hurt and upset caused to many in Northern Ireland by the protocol, but we must not forget that Scotland and Northern Ireland as a whole both voted against Brexit, and that there was not cross-Union consent for where we are now. If the consequences of that deal are judged to be not in the best interests of the people of Northern Ireland, we need to be honest and recognise that the consequences of the entire withdrawal agreement are not in the interests of any place in the UK, because “getting Brexit done” has meant border checks for goods going from Great Britain to the EU or to Northern Ireland, but an absolute free-for-all for anything coming into Great Britain.

We on the SNP Benches have said all along that a stable agreement needs to be reached with the EU that works for all parts of the UK, and I genuinely wish the UK Government well in that, but with the crisis in Ukraine, the last thing we need to be doing is thrashing around here pointlessly in a snare of our own making. Domestic legislation will, even if passed, not wash away the need to comply with international commitments; nor will it change the fact that if the UK is neither in nor aligned with the single market and customs union, that still creates a trade border that needs to go somewhere.

Restoring devolved government in Northern Ireland and resolving the self-inflicted wounds of Brexit will require good will, trust and a negotiated settlement. I am sorry to say that the threats of unilateral legislative action by this Government to override their own deal are unlikely to be taken seriously in Belfast, and will not be taken seriously in Brussels; there is absolutely no reason why they should be taken seriously in this place either.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Richard Thomson and Lindsay Hoyle
Wednesday 20th April 2022

(1 year, 10 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Order. Prime Minister, we cannot both stand up at the same time. I am trying to be helpful. We have got to be more moderate in the type of language used. “Pinocchio” is not acceptable. I am sure the hon. Member wishes to withdraw it quickly.

Richard Thomson Portrait Richard Thomson
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Mr Speaker, I withdraw that, but he packs his bags and goes.

None Portrait Hon. Members
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That is not a withdrawal.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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You have withdrawn it?

Richard Thomson Portrait Richard Thomson
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I withdraw.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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Withdrawn. Let’s get on. Prime Minister.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Richard Thomson and Lindsay Hoyle
Wednesday 9th March 2022

(1 year, 11 months ago)

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

Richard Thomson Portrait Richard Thomson (Gordon) (SNP)
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I associate myself and my party with the Secretary of State’s remarks at the outset about victims of historical abuse and the forthcoming apology.

Another important part of the Northern Ireland protocol is article 3, which says:

“The United Kingdom shall ensure that the Common Travel Area and the rights and privileges associated therewith can continue to apply…in particular with respect to free movement to, from and within”—

the island of Ireland—

“for Union citizens and their family members, irrespective of their nationality.”

Does the Secretary of State recognise the potential economic and political strain that the introduction of an electronic travel authorisation system could put on freedom of movement across the border? What engagement does he plan to have with the Government of Northern Ireland and the Government of the Republic and their partners in the EU in respect of how to make sure such frictions do not take effect?

Russia Sanctions Legislation

Debate between Richard Thomson and Lindsay Hoyle
Thursday 10th February 2022

(2 years 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 Scottish National party spokesperson, Owen Thomson.

Richard Thomson Portrait Richard Thomson (Gordon) (SNP)
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I echo much of what was said by the shadow Secretary of State, the right hon. Member for Tottenham (Mr Lammy). I find this situation frustrating in many ways. Obviously we all want to do everything we can to counter Russian aggression, and we all want to be doing what we can to support legislation that would make that possible. But the action taken today of laying such legislation without our being given any opportunity for scrutiny or debate, or even knowing what it can achieve, makes it very difficult for us to help the Government and to approach this constructively, which is what we want to do. I must be brutally honest and say that it is a challenging task to come up with a series of questions about legislation that we have not yet seen, although we all want see that legislation work.

Can the Minister assure us that whatever the legislation does include, it will enable actions to be taken to tackle the improper use of, for instance, Scottish limited partnerships—colleagues of mine have been calling for that for years—and the multitude of other avenues through which Russian money is being used to influence and change attitudes, as well as the cyber-attacks that are carried out across these islands and in other European countries? Without seeing the legislation, it is difficult for our support to be as full as we might have wanted it to be.

Storm Arwen: Power Outages

Debate between Richard Thomson and Lindsay Hoyle
Monday 6th December 2021

(2 years, 2 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I am not going to reopen the debate.

Richard Thomson Portrait Richard Thomson
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

Further to that point of order, Mr Speaker. There is an important distinction to be drawn between visiting a constituency and inviting the MP to join you. I wonder how I might be able to correct the record, as the Minister said something that does not seem to be exactly in accord with how arrangements were made.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

This is becoming a political decision, which I do not want it to be. What I would say to Ministers is that, when they visit an affected constituency held by whichever political party, it is good order to see the MP, and it should not look like they are visiting the constituencies of just one political party. I am sure that would never happen and I am sure it will be resolved in future.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Richard Thomson and Lindsay Hoyle
Tuesday 20th July 2021

(2 years, 7 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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Order. There must be shorter answers, as these are topical questions.

Richard Thomson Portrait Richard Thomson (Gordon) (SNP) [V]
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Earlier this month the FCDO published its human rights and democracy report, which lists in total 31 human rights priority countries. The UK Government currently grant licences to sell arms to 23 out of those 31 countries. How can the granting of those licences be reconciled with any meaningful commitment on the part of the UK Government to improve the human rights of those who live in those countries?

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Richard Thomson and Lindsay Hoyle
Monday 24th May 2021

(2 years, 9 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call Richard Holden. Not here. We will go to Richard Thomson.

Richard Thomson Portrait Richard Thomson (Gordon) (SNP)
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Over the past two years, there have been 443 nuclear site event reports at the Faslane nuclear base, which is located just 25 miles from the centre of Scotland’s largest city, yet Capita, which provides specialist firefighting services on site, plans to reduce the number of firefighters by 15%, a move that has been branded as“an accident waiting to happen”by the Unite trade union. Will Ministers intervene to reverse these cuts, given the obvious security and safety concerns that this reduction raises?

Northern Ireland Protocol

Debate between Richard Thomson and Lindsay Hoyle
Wednesday 10th March 2021

(2 years, 11 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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We go to the Scottish National party spokesperson, Richard Thomson.

Richard Thomson Portrait Richard Thomson (Gordon) (SNP) [V]
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Thank you, Mr Speaker. I echo the words of the Select Committee Chair: it is not the publicly stated objective of protecting the flow of goods that is at issue here; rather, it is the provocative and belligerent manner in which the Government seem to be determined to go about trying to achieve that.

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster said previously that he believed Northern Ireland was getting

“the best of both worlds”

through the protocol, and that any issues arising from the new arrangements could be resolved within the terms of that protocol, without needing to trigger the article 16 procedure. At a time when flexibility is needed, this action will ensure that the good will towards the UK Government that is needed to secure changes to the arrangement they took so long to negotiate is in shorter supply than ever before. The conduct of the Brexit negotiations came at the expense of the UK’s reputation for political stability and good governance. Is not this latest development one which will come at the expense of any lingering trust there may be in the UK Government as a trustworthy international partner, who can be relied upon to keep their word?

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Richard Thomson and Lindsay Hoyle
Thursday 14th January 2021

(3 years, 1 month ago)

Commons Chamber
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Richard Thomson Portrait Richard Thomson [V]
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[Inaudible.]

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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You are on mute, Richard; press the button.

Richard Thomson Portrait Richard Thomson
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[Inaudible.]

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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Sorry, but we are going to have to move on.