The words of caution I give tonight are not directed only at the SNP. They extend to those in the Labour and Conservative parties who would seek to use this debate

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as some sort of bidding war between those on different sides of the border. I am short of time tonight but this is my word of caution: remember always that within this great family of nations that is the United Kingdom it is possible to break the Union from either side of the border. We have always proceeded on the basis that we are a family where we give in and take out in different ways at different times. I hope the Bill we have tonight will be the next stage in the evolution of that family, and I look forward to taking part in its consideration in the weeks to come.

7.4 pm

Sir Edward Leigh (Gainsborough) (Con): It is an honour to follow the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr Carmichael) who, apart from being a thoroughly nice bloke who is held in great regard in this House, was a most distinguished Scottish Secretary.

I want to make the Conservative case for as much fiscal autonomy, and therefore responsibility, as is possible. This is a big subject. It needs big positive gestures. We are talking about the future of the nation. We should frame our response to the general election not in the pettifogging detail of the civil service brief, but in the tradition of the great national declarations of the past. I call for nothing less than full home rule for Scotland—or self-rule as I prefer to call it.

The Smith commission really is a dog’s breakfast. No one understands it, and it addles the brain of anyone who tries to read it, as I have done. We have to get out of this love affair with commissions of the great and the good. We are politicians. We must have the vision in this House, as politicians—and, dare I say it, as statesmen—to look at the overall picture.

The election changes everything. We have to come to terms with the sad fact that the SNP has just won all but three of the seats in Scotland. We cannot go on as if we have just had the referendum. We won the referendum, but it was nine months ago. We have had a general election since then and we have to respond to that. The Smith commission was in response to an earlier panicky scare, which led to the vow, and I think the vow has, in a sense, produced an inadequate response.

If we do nothing now—if we do not move forward—we will fall into the same trap as the disastrous response to Irish nationalism. We are about where Ireland was in the 1880s. We now know our response to Ireland was too little, too late. We were wrong to abolish the Irish Parliament in 1801. We were wrong to delay granting Catholic emancipation. We were wrong not to listen to Gladstone in the 1880s. We were wrong not to implement home rule in 1914.

If we are to keep Scotland in the United Kingdom, which is my primary aim as a Unionist, I believe we should move towards full fiscal autonomy for Scotland so that, in broad terms, the Scottish Parliament spends what it raises, with only foreign affairs, defence and pension liability—and the ultimate liability for financial shocks like that in 2008—remaining at the UK level.

I do not argue for fiscal autonomy as some kind of cheap trap: “Ha ha, get rid of the Barnett formula, the oil is slowly running out, make them poorer and they’ll behave.” Aside from the obvious immorality of such a position, nationalism cannot be defeated by imposing poverty—quite the opposite.

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The Union is asymmetrical. The English have 85% of the population, and we must be generous. We are never going to get some perfect federal solution. We are better off with the Union. It makes for a larger spirited nation, and it is in our interests as English Members of Parliament to be generous. That means, certainly, English votes for English laws in the very few cases where we are passing laws that only affect England, but Scottish MPs must be part of the discussion. It is a sensible compromise that grants them a role in that discussion but with an ultimate double-veto.

There are several arguments against full fiscal autonomy. First, there is the argument that we must keep something in reserve. That is a Machiavellian argument, but it does not work. If we must keep something so that we have a bargaining tool, what happens when we have just one chip left? If it cannot be given away, it has lost its effectiveness as a bargaining tool, and if it can be given away, the argument fails completely, so I do not accept it.

Secondly, there is the matter of tax competition. We are warned that Scotland will lower its corporation tax or other taxes—we have heard about airport passenger duty—but so what? We should have the confidence to accept competition in tax policy.

Bob Stewart (Beckenham) (Con): I totally agree with my hon. Friend. If Scotland has full fiscal responsibility, it can decide what taxes it sets and how much it takes, and it must have responsibility for spending as well.

Sir Edward Leigh: I am grateful to my hon. Friend.

As Conservatives, we believe in responsibility and I believe that we have created in the Scottish Parliament a grievance Parliament. Even after these proposals, the Scottish Government will be able to spend only about 50% of what they raise. They will always be able to blame the United Kingdom Parliament for what goes wrong. Give the Scottish people responsibility and, ultimately, the wheel turns—it always does. The more responsibility one gives to people, the more difficult the decisions they have to take. For example, they might want to increase taxes, but that might lessen productivity; they might want to cut spending on social security, but that might make them more unpopular. Those, however, are decisions for a real Parliament, and they are what we should give to the Scottish Parliament.

It is argued that the EU will not allow us to give value added tax decisions to the Scottish Parliament, but that is something else that the Prime Minister can argue for. If he does not succeed in that negotiation, perhaps some Scottish people will form the view that there might be life outside the EU, but that is for another day.

I do not claim any expertise in the Scottish psyche and I might have got this wrong, but I think we can have closure if we give people ultimate responsibility and if we reassure Scottish people that this is not a trick and that we will keep pension liability within the United Kingdom, as well as the liability for great financial shocks such as those we saw in 1929 or 2008. We have heard about the £7 billion black hole and I understand the Secretary of State, but we can surely carry on having the discussion. We can also carry on discussing social security. People argue that we cannot give away social security, because we have to have a larger pot to help the poor, but that is something for an enabling Bill and to

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discuss with our colleagues in the Scottish Parliament. If they do not want to take full fiscal responsibility now, that is their choice and they must be allowed to make it. We should at least look at the Bill in an atmosphere of co-operation and toleration for each other’s views, with a determination on the Government Benches—the Unionist Benches—to make things work, to have some sort of closure on the issue, and to re-create people’s faith in our United Kingdom Parliament, because I believe that the result of the referendum showed that that faith is still there.

After the failure of his 1886 and 1889 Home Rule Bills, Gladstone warned:

“We are bound to lose Ireland in consequence of years of cruelty, stupidity and misgovernment and I would rather lose her as a friend than as a foe.”

No one is arguing that we are in that position, but we might still lose Scotland if we create an unsustainable situation, which we are in danger of doing, so let us use these four days in constructive debate. The referendum showed us that Scotland has not yet given up on us; nor should we give up on it. If we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change; we must move forward in a spirit of co-operation.

7.12 pm

Vicky Foxcroft (Lewisham, Deptford) (Lab): It is an honour to make my maiden speech in this important debate. I spent some time in Scotland on the referendum campaign and one of my lasting memories is how engaged 16 and 17-year-olds were, which is a point that I will come back to.

On the campaign trail, one of the things that came up on the doorstep was that politicians too often use language that people do not relate to. In my maiden speech and in future contributions to the House, I will ensure that I use language that the people of Lewisham, Deptford can relate to—not policy speak, buzz words or jargon, but plain, simple language.

I am not normally one for following convention, and I have to be honest that my short time here as an MP has shown me that Parliament has a lot of conventions, but one that is easy for me to follow is paying tribute to my predecessor. Joan Ruddock was a hard-working MP for Lewisham, Deptford for more than 28 years. She also worked extremely hard to reform this House. She was quoted as saying that this place had some of the worst working conditions that she had ever encountered. Some Members will remember the days when 40% of Parliament’s sittings were beyond midnight, allowing them little time in their constituencies. She rightly felt that that was not what people expected of their MP. Through her work with Members in all parties she got friendlier sitting hours, although I know she would say that things are still not ideal.

The people of Lewisham, Deptford were important to Joan, and they are important to me. Locally, we have a strong sense of community, which we are proud of. That can be seen in our successful campaign to save Lewisham hospital. Thousands of people took to the streets, signed petitions, put up posters and did whatever it took to save our local hospital. Ultimately, under the previous Government, we had to take the Secretary of State for Health, the right hon. Member for South West Surrey (Mr Hunt), to court, where we won. I hope that

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we do not have to do the same again, but if we do, I know that we have the strength, the resolve and the passion to fight again to protect our local hospital and our community.

We are not only fighters in Lewisham, Deptford, we are creators as well. We have a vibrant community arts base: the Albany; the Brockley Jack Theatre; Midi Music; the Laban; the Second Wave; Goldsmiths, University of London; Crofton Park and New Cross community libraries; Lewisham Arthouse; and street festivals, such as Hither Green, Deptford X and Brockley Max, to mention a few. There is much, much more.

The creative side is important to the community and to me. I studied performing arts at college; I did not get any A to Cs in my GCSEs when I was at school, but further education was my second chance. Further education must be properly supported and properly funded. Lewisham and Southwark College is my local college and I want it to thrive. I want it to receive the support that it had under a Labour Government.

Some might say that learning drama and performing arts was a perfect training ground to be an MP, but if anyone had said to me when I was 17 that I would be an MP, I would not have believed them because, quite honestly, politics was just not for the likes of me. That is still the opinion of too many young people, and it has to change. We need every young person—every person—to recognise that politics is not only for a political class, but for everyone. That is why I will continue to meet with young people from our schools, colleges and youth groups to get them involved in politics. Their voice matters; they are the future.

For that reason, I want to use the opportunity afforded to me by winning a place in the ballot for private Members’ Bills on a Bill calling for votes for 16 and 17-year-olds. I only secured 16th place in the ballot, but my voice must be heard, just as 16-year-olds should have their voices heard and their votes counted. They were rightly given the opportunity to vote in the referendum in Scotland. The future of their country was at stake and they turned out to vote. Is it right that they can fight and die for their country, pay tax, contribute to the economy and get married, but that they cannot have their views reflected at the ballot box?

In Lewisham we have a Young Mayor, Liam Islam, from Deptford Green school. I will work with him, his team and advisers, and any other groups that wish to join our campaign. I would love the Government to work with us to deliver it, but if they do not work with us, we will not be quiet about seeking to ensure that 16 and 17-year-olds have their voices heard in the EU referendum and beyond.

I am deeply concerned about the next five years and the detrimental impact that the Government will have on the people of Lewisham, Deptford and the country as a whole. I will, however, do everything that I can to protect the most vulnerable in our society from the Government. I will fight tooth and nail against whatever attacks fall on our public services, our housing and the people of Lewisham, Deptford.

As someone famous once wrote on a train to New Cross in 1889:

“So raise the scarlet standard high

Beneath its shade we’ll live and die,

Though cowards flinch and traitors sneer,

We’ll keep the red flag flying here.”

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Some Members may recognise those words from Jim Connell’s song “The Red Flag”. I invite any of the Government Members to come on a train to New Cross; bring pen and paper, and you never know what might happen.

7.20 pm

Daniel Zeichner (Cambridge) (Lab): It is a pleasure to follow that inspiring speech by my hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, Deptford (Vicky Foxcroft). It is also a pleasure to hear so many initial contributions from so many fine hon. Members.

I speak today as the new Member for Cambridge, and let me start by saying a few words about my predecessors. Dr Julian Huppert is a knowledgeable scientist and a committed defender of civil liberties, who argued hard in this House and well in the Select Committee on Home Affairs, where he won many friends. He has been a passionate advocate for cycling and for environmentalism, and he is extremely well regarded in the constituency, having fought hard to improve the funding situation for our local schools and to raise the status of mental health. But my predecessors in Cambridge set a very high bar. Some here will remember David Howarth, another Liberal Democrat MP who was also very well regarded in this House. Before that, we had my dear friend Anne Campbell, a Labour MP from 1992 to 2005, who has been a source of huge support and great wisdom for me.

I suspect that not every Member gets elected to this House at their first attempt. For some it will take two attempts, whereas for others it takes three or four. I am on my fifth, but I am here at last. I suspect that those who have followed a similar course may well have reflected early in their career on the merits of enthusiasm and youth. As one’s career progresses, one recognises the benefits of experience and perhaps a little wisdom—one hopes.

I also suspect that many Members are full of enthusiasm and optimism when they are first selected—I was first selected to fight a rural seat in Norfolk—and find themselves writing their maiden speech. When I reflect on that speech from 20 years ago, I see that quite a lot of it is still valid today: I see a Conservative Government, a Labour Opposition and much talk of Europe. The biggest thing that has changed for me has been moving back to the fine city of Cambridge 10 years ago—it has been the biggest change in my life. What I have seen in Cambridge over those years is a city on the cusp of a technological revolution; the number of jobs in the knowledge-intensive sector is phenomenal. For me, there is the link with today’s discussion about Scotland and devolution, because what our hugely successful companies such as ARM and the Babraham Institute need are more flexibilities, and people in Scotland are arguing for the same. As someone who has argued for many years for devolution to the English regions, I think we need to sort these issues out in a sensible way, which is why I did support the idea of a constitutional convention, as proposed by the Labour party at the last election.

Cambridge is also, like so many other places, a tale of two cities; the challenges our city faces are partly the challenges of success, but we also have divisions. Our businesses need an answer to the traffic problems and the appalling housing crisis we have. A terraced house in Cambridge costs £450,000 and our average rents are

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double those in England for most homes. Our housing benefit bill has doubled in the past five years—why? It is because 12,000 people in the prosperous city of Cambridge are earning below the living wage—it is not always the way we imagine it. We need different solutions in different places.

I am glad to say that Cambridge now has a Labour council and it is trying to tackle those issues, but it is hard to do. The biggest issue is affordable housing, and I see fellow hon. Members here who have been involved in these debates with me over many years. The biggest problem we have is that although we have a valuable housing stock, we are not allowed to borrow against it. The city deal is welcome, but it is a drop in the ocean compared with what we really need to turn Cambridge into the economic driver that could so help our economy, right across the UK.

When we look at those issues, we ask: why can we not borrow? Some 18 months ago, there was a chink of light from the Treasury, when people began to talk about “tax increment financing”—I apologise for the jargon—or the possibility of borrowing against that value. What happened? The usual forces of conservatism in the Treasury won out yet again, as has happened to Governments of both complexions. I say to both Front-Bench teams: we need to think imaginatively if we are to solve these huge challenges facing not only cities such as Cambridge, but our whole country and our other nations as well.

Creating the kind of tolerant, diverse city that people in a place such as Cambridge want will mean balancing a range of complicated and difficult issues, and recognising that even within a city such as Cambridge there are many different Cambridges. Cambridge has not only the university we all know and love so much, but three other universities: Anglia Ruskin University, which is doing so well; the University of the Third Age; and the Open University—my mother was pleased to be one of the first people to go to it back in the ‘60s. I recall one moment earlier this year when Cambridge United played Manchester United in a rather unequal battle—perhaps—in the FA cup and we held those mighty people to a goalless draw at the Abbey stadium. That was a brief moment when people saw that other Cambridge. I suggest that in our communities right across the country there are other cities and other places, and we need to understand all of them.

I stand before you today as a Labour MP for Cambridge who will represent the buccaneering investors and high-tech gurus of our city who will create wealth. But most of all, I will be standing up and arguing for our public sector workers, who so often are forgotten, but without whom the rest of the city cannot do its job. I am proud to represent Cambridge and look forward to standing up for the city in the years ahead.

7.26 pm

Patricia Gibson (North Ayrshire and Arran) (SNP): Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker, for giving me the opportunity to speak for the first time in the House today. I would like to congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Rutherglen and Hamilton West (Margaret Ferrier) on her excellent maiden speech and the hon. Member for Lewisham, Deptford (Vicky Foxcroft). I am truly delighted to have been called to speak in this Scotland Bill debate on behalf of my constituents, who

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have bestowed upon me the honour of representing them in this place as the first SNP Member for North Ayrshire and Arran.

One regret I have is that my mother is not alive to see me elected to this place, as I know she would have been so proud. She came to Scotland with my father in 1954, from Malin Head in Ireland, in search of work and a better life. I was the youngest of eight children, with my father dying suddenly when I was one. Life was a struggle and we lived in deep poverty. That is why I understand the struggles of so many of my constituents, who find making ends meet a challenging prospect every single day.

I represent a dozen or so distinct communities—Ardrossan, Barrmill, Beith, Dalry, Fairlie, Kilbirnie, Kilwinning, Largs, Saltcoats, Skelmorlie, Stevenston, West Kilbride and Kilwinning—and two beautiful islands, Cumbrae and Arran. Arran, of course, is an island famed for being “Scotland in miniature”. Much of my constituency faces many challenges in the post-industrial era, but the pride and determination of those communities and their commitment to a fairer and more equal society are truly inspirational. My constituency retains important businesses, ranging from the very small to DSM, which employs over 300 people and has the distinction of being the only manufacturer of vitamin C in the world outside China. We also have J & D Pierce, which is not just Scotland’s largest steel fabricator, but the largest steel fabricator in northern Britain, and the wonderful Arran Aromatics.

North Ayrshire and Arran is the place to be for those who consider themselves to be epicurean in their tastes, being an enviable source of seasonal produce. In addition, we can boast the Arran brewery and Scotland’s newest world-class distillery, in Lochranza. Arran blonde ale will satisfy the palate of even the most discerning ale drinker.

Over the years, the boundaries of my constituency have altered. My immediate predecessor, Katy Clark, represented the constituency within its current boundaries for 10 years. A very well known MP who represented much of the constituency when it was called Bute and Northern Ayrshire was Sir Fitzroy Maclean, who was a major-general in the second world war and rumoured to be one of Ian Fleming’s inspirations for James Bond.

I like to think that I share important attributes with the character of James Bond: I exude charm, as I am sure Members will come to recognise; I show courage when life becomes difficult; I have good self-defence skills that will enable me to disarm opponents; and, like Mr Bond, I am able to embrace change willingly. I know some Members of this House struggle to do so, especially with regards to voting behaviour.

The rebuke that SNP Members received for clapping in the Chamber reminds me of the outcry that Keir Hardie caused when he delivered his maiden speech wearing a tweed suit and deerstalker hat, instead of the expected frock coat and top hat. It seems that every generation of parliamentarians, in their own particular and modest ways, must push the House inch by inch into the future.

As has been said by so many of my colleagues, we in the SNP come to this House in good faith, armed only with the aspirations of our constituents and our

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determination to be a strong voice for Scotland. The Scotland Bill fails to live up to the powers recommended by the Smith commission, as the UK Government retain a veto over key policy areas. The SNP will seek to improve the Bill to ensure that, as a minimum, it delivers on the Smith commission proposals in full.

It is an outrage, as we heard earlier, that the plan for English votes for English laws could prevent Scottish MPs from voting on issues that have significant implications for Scotland’s budget. To push through such a change would mean that no full and proper scrutiny of this measure could be undertaken.

Devolving more powers to Scotland is the best way to improve the lives of the people of Scotland. Scotland needs control over employment support, job creation and welfare. This Bill falls far short of what the people of Scotland were promised and now quite rightly expect.

We must give voice to Scotland’s priorities. That is why we are here and why we have been elected to this place. We in the SNP will work tirelessly and relentlessly to deliver the kind of policies that reflect the values and aspirations of the people of Scotland, and we will work with others in this House with whom we find common cause. That is my vow to the good people of North Ayrshire and Arran, and that is the SNP’s vow to people across Scotland.

7.33 pm

Carolyn Harris (Swansea East) (Lab): I am very grateful to be able to speak in this important debate. As a Welsh MP from the party of devolution, I am keen to see my Celtic cousins gain a strengthened Scottish Parliament while still enjoying the benefit of being part of the Union. I congratulate the hon. Member for North Ayrshire and Arran (Patricia Gibson) on her excellent maiden speech and on her elevation to this place, where I am certain she will serve her constituency with integrity and passion.

I must pay tribute not only to my immediate predecessor but to the two Members who preceded her. My immediate predecessor, Siân James, made history by becoming the first female to represent Swansea East. As the second female Member to represent the constituency, the perception of this place as a male-dominated arena has been firmly dispelled in Swansea East. One needs only to look around the Chamber to see that women are very much in evidence in 2015.

Siân was involved in groundbreaking parliamentary work when she helped steer through the Sunbeds (Regulation) Act 2010. She is one of the few living Members of Parliament whose life experiences have been portrayed in a big screen movie—an achievement in which she can take great pride.

I need to jump a political generation as I pay tribute to the late Neil McBride. As a home-grown young girl of Swansea East, I was immensely proud that Mr McBride knew my name and never failed to speak to me as I passed his home en route for school. Neil McBride was MP for Swansea East from 1963 to 1974 and Government Whip from 1966 to 1974. He was one of my early heroes and his kindness and patience with an eight-year-old politically inquisitive child undoubtedly encouraged me to take a keen interest in politics at a very young age.

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I turn now to my political pin-up, Don Anderson, now Lord Anderson of Swansea. I have known Don for many years and supported his campaigns election after election. I admire his incredible memory and his excellent political acumen. He is generous in spirit and with his time and advice, and his knowledge is boundless. To stand in his shoes is an incredible honour and I intend to repay his nurturing by representing Swansea East with great commitment and enthusiasm.

Swansea East forms part of the geographical area that Dylan Thomas referred to as the ugly, lovely town. I am afraid though that I have to challenge that description as today the view from Dylan’s Kilvey is anything but ugly. In 2015, Swansea East boasts a vista that is economically exciting, architecturally beautiful, culturally and educationally groundbreaking, and environmentally innovative. It has a sporting track record that is the pride of Wales.

In September, University of Wales Swansea opens its Swansea Bay campus. Although it is technically in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Aberavon (Stephen Kinnock), he has given me permission to mention it as it is literally inches from my own constituency. As an alumnus of University of Wales Swansea I would not be forgiven if I did not give it a mention. The new campus is a £450 million scheme that has created an architectural community with open spaces, integral streets and grand structures, which give the impression of a small city. It is estimated that, over the next 10 years, the development will have a £3 billion economic impact on Wales.

Closer to Swansea East and in the St Thomas community, just under the edge of Dylan’s Kilvey, University of Wales Trinity St David is proposing to introduce and deliver on its plans for a “transforming education, transforming lives” project. In direct partnership with the Welsh Government and the City and County of Swansea Council, it is intending to develop a Swansea waterfront innovation quarter to support the university’s aim of inspiring individuals and developing graduates. It will be a vibrant, modern waterfront, with purpose-built facilities for learning, teaching and research. A single faculty of architecture building in 2017 will eventually evolve into a vibrant, social and educational community within 10 years.

Swansea East is also home to several Government agencies: the Pensions Agency, the Land Registry and the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency, which is undoubtedly the largest agency in terms of employment. The DVLA is in a landmark building: a large white oblong that is visible for many miles from the M4, and the beacon that tells me that I am nearly home when it comes into sight. The public sector is one of the largest employers in my constituency and the presence of every one of those agencies is very welcome.

Tidal Lagoon Swansea Bay is hopefully to be the jewel in the Swansea Bay crown. I am very proud that one of the most exciting global environmental projects that we have ever seen will be coming to Swansea East very soon. The proposal for the world’s first man-made, energy-generating lagoon, which is predicted to power more than 155,000 homes, is currently in the final stages; we are waiting for the development consent order, which is due imminently. Given the Prime Minister’s enthusiasm for the project in this Chamber fewer than five days ago, I am very optimistic that there will be a

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favourable outcome. The project will see a critical change in the UK’s energy mix. It will harness natural power from the rise and fall of the tides. Swansea Bay will be the first in a series of six tidal lagoons that will eventually meet up to 8% of UK electricity demand.

In my home ward, Landore Cwmbwrla, we are very proud to have the Liberty stadium, which is the home of the Ospreys rugby team and of the only Welsh football club in the premier league. I am sure that all my Welsh colleagues will join me in congratulating the Swans on finishing eighth in the league and in wishing them well for the 2015-16 season. Without doubt, Swans supporters are the most intrepid in their trips for away games; it has been worked out that they have travelled more than 4,000 miles, the equivalent of a trip to the Bahamas.

Colleagues can now appreciate why I take exception to the proposal that Swansea is an ugly town. Lovely, I cannot argue with, not least because of the people. They are friendly, welcoming, open and hard-working and they have put their trust and their faith in me. I intend to be their voice in this Chamber and to represent them on everything they would want me to. Somebody once said that Swansea was the graveyard of ambition, but I hope that after this speech Members will agree that Swansea East is a treasure chest of opportunity.

7.40 pm

Callum McCaig (Aberdeen South) (SNP): I pay tribute to the hon. Member for Swansea East (Carolyn Harris) for her welcome and expert maiden speech. It is not a place that I have been to, but I feel almost as though I have lived through the wonders of Swansea.

It is a great pleasure to take part in this debate and to give my maiden speech. It seems that the force of argument from the SNP Benches has cleared the ranks of the Scottish Conservative and Unionist party from the Chamber, which is to a degree regrettable.

Aberdeen South is in many ways the classic three-way marginal seat—a three-way marginal that I and the SNP won last month from fourth place. That signifies why we are here: the people of Aberdeen South and Scotland have a desire for change and progress, for the Scottish Parliament to be empowered and for the country we live in to be made a stronger and fairer place to live.

My immediate predecessor, Dame Anne Begg, made her maiden speech in this Chamber during the debate on the Referendums (Scotland and Wales) Bill, which gave the people of Scotland the opportunity of re-establishing the Scottish Parliament. History has shown that that Bill was not enough to satisfy the Scottish people’s desire for control over their own affairs, and I have little doubt that the same will be said of this Bill in years to come. At that time, there was much talk about the settled will of the Scottish people, but I do not think that the people of Scotland are willing to settle for this Bill.

I know that it is customary to pay tribute to one’s predecessor, but for me it is easy. Dame Anne Begg served Aberdeen South with great spirit, enthusiasm and passion for 18 years. She paved the way as the first full-time wheelchair user in this House since the 19th century and campaigned tirelessly for the rights of people with disabilities. Her defeat was in no way a reflection of her work or her dedication to her constituents, but part of the strong desire in Scotland for a more distinctive

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Scottish voice in this place and a stronger and more accountable Parliament in Edinburgh. I pay tribute to Anne for her work on behalf of her constituents. I have no doubt that she still has a major contribution to make to public life, and I wish her well.

Aberdeen is fondly known as the granite city. The stone from the quarries in and around the city has been used to great effect all over the world. Stone from the biggest of these, the Rubislaw quarry in my constituency, is in the Terrace here in Westminster. Rubislaw quarry, which might be brought back to life as a visitor centre, is known as the biggest man-made hole in Europe. I have some concerns that that title might be in jeopardy given some of the actions of this Government, but for the sake of the country as a whole I hope that it is one that we retain.

Aberdeen South has many distinct and proud communities, from the picturesque village of Cove at the southern point of the constituency, round the mighty headland of Girdle Ness to the former royal burgh of Torry. My constituency follows the course of the beautiful lower reaches of the River Dee, the mouth of which forms a natural harbour that founded the development of our city as the economic powerhouse that it is today. Such is the demand for space at the harbour, even with low oil prices, that there is a prospect of expanding the harbour outwith its present realms, showing the might and resilience of our city.

The constituency is home to two wonderful Victorian gardens, Hazlehead and Duthie parks. It hosts the main campus of the young, ambitious and upwardly mobile Robert Gordon University in Garthdee as well as some of the finest state schools in Scotland. It is a constituency of growing diversity with people from across the globe enhancing and enriching a culture that is proudly Scottish but distinctively Aberdonian. In short, and to borrow from the Doric, it is an afa bonnie place and well worth a visit.

Aberdeen South is one of the wealthiest constituencies in Scotland, but among that great wealth lies great poverty: 10% of the children in the seat live in poverty, in a city with essentially full employment that is home to a world-leading oil and gas industry. I and my party want to address that, but I do not think that the Bill gives us the tools to do so. It might go some of the way, but more work needs to be done.

The low oil price is of course concerning, but Aberdeen remains that resilient city. Those who want to find work will by and large find it. The problem is for those earning the minimum wage. In a wealthy city like Aberdeen it is nigh on impossible to have a decent standard of life on the minimum wage. For me, the biggest failing of the Bill is that it does not give the Scottish Parliament the power to implement a genuine living wage.

Aberdeen proudly boasts the title of Europe’s oil capital and we are in the transition to becoming a truly global energy city as we diversify into new markets and into a hub for renewable energy. Over the coming weeks and months I look forward to championing the industries of Aberdeen and ensuring they get the support that they need from Government.

As I said, I feel that the Bill will not be judged kindly by history. It does not live up to the Smith agreement, it falls way short of the modern form of home rule

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promised before the referendum and it takes scant account of the election result in Scotland. The people of Scotland want a Parliament and a Government that care for the most vulnerable in society, that promote sustainable economic growth, and above all stand up for the weak in the face of the powerful. If this place is unwilling or unable to do that job, there is another place up the road that is ready, willing and able to take on that mantle.

7.46 pm

Mr David Anderson (Blaydon) (Lab): It is a huge pleasure to see you in that seat, Madam Deputy Speaker, and I hope that you are there for many years to come, comrade. I will get that one in first.

I praise all new Members for the tremendous speeches they have made tonight, and particularly—even though he is gone—my long-standing hon. Friend the Member for Cambridge (Daniel Zeichner). We had many happy years working together in the trade union movement, and it is there that I want to start.

In previous discussions about devolution, there was a marked difference in that there was consultation and the involvement of civic society. We saw that in the 1990s, through the discussions in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and through those about London and my part of the world. Not only were people involved, but trade unions put in time, effort, politics and members’ money to make a case for a referendum on devolution. They were responding to what their members wanted. Their members wanted relief from the pain and suffering they had seen through 18 years of Tory rule and they saw devolution as a route to that.

Perhaps even more important was the situation in Northern Ireland, where people saw a chance of devolution as giving them a chance for peace. I was sitting earlier talking to my colleague, our friend, the hon. Member for North Antrim (Ian Paisley). In the mid-1990s I never realised that 20 years later I would be sitting in this House and working with his father to take devolution and the peace process forward. Sometimes people had to be dragged, but ultimately the will of the people was heard. Nobody can argue that that was anything other than positive.

Today, we have another chance to put right a wrong. I am glad that the vote last year in Scotland went the way it did, but we must address the problem of where we ended up. As a knee-jerk reaction to a rogue poll the leaders of the parliamentary parties in this House gave a vow to the people of Scotland that I believe some of them did not want to carry through, but they made that vow and should stick to the terms of it. I hope that between us we can ensure that that happens, but I must say to our colleagues from Scotland that that cannot happen in isolation. What we do with this Bill will impact on England and on my part of the world in particular, and in my part of the world people want to have a say. They want to be involved in the way other people across these islands have been involved. I do not think that that is too much to ask, but clearly the Conservatives do, as the Secretary of State has already said tonight that there will be no constitutional convention for England.

The Chancellor, who runs the Government, despite what the Prime Minister might think, said that we can have semi-devolution if we sign up to elected mayors.

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We know what that is about: it is about giving mayors from the Tory party a chance to rule parts of the world that do not want Tory rule, and would never, ever vote for them in local elections. That is all it is—it is being used to abuse the constitutional settlement. If it is good enough for the rest of this kingdom, it is good enough for the people of the north-east and the people of England. Why should we be short-changed? Why should we be told that we can have control of our daily life only if we do what we are told, instead of having a proper, adult conversation with people as we have done in this country over the past 20 years?

I am sad that we have lost 40 representatives from Scotland. Those people did a great service to their country, to the United Kingdom, and to the House. Quite clearly, the people in Scotland have spoken, and colleagues who have left the House are where they are because of things that were not true. They are victims of a story that said that they did not want to fight austerity—they were Tory-lite—and they deserted their original role as defenders of the poor, the weak and the vulnerable. No one can tell me that that was the case with people like Dave Hamilton, Jim Sheridan, Jim McGovern and Katy Clark. They are men and women who never wavered in their commitment to the poor, the weak and the vulnerable.

The truth is that my party leadership conceded, to an extent, to the austerity agenda of the Tory party. At times, when we were in government, we favoured businesses and power over workers and the poor, and we let people down. We pursued a neo-liberal tract on many issues, which jarred badly with the people of Scotland and parts of the UK such as the place I come from. My leadership has to understand that going forward.

Many people across these islands have a long-held belief in collectivism and the power of the state, and they struggle to get to grips with an agenda that promotes individuals and self-interest. I do not believe that many Scots voted last year to break up the United Kingdom because they hated the UK. What they hated was the austerity agenda—the poverty agenda that has been pursued by the Tory party for as long as it has been in existence, which says that it will let the poor pay for the failures of the rich, and that the wealthy should always be looked after while the poor take the hindmost. The people of Scotland rejected my party this year because it was too close to people who have pushed that agenda for years and years.

The people who have been in the driving seat for the past five years were in the driving seat for 18 years from 1979. We know the history: they argue that unemployment is a price worth paying because their people are not paying it. They argued that there was no such thing as society, because they had enough money not to depend on one another and the communities they came from. They try to tell us that we are all in this together, while nurses get a 1% pay rise and chief executives of trusts get a 17% pay rise. That is the world that Tory Members live in, and that is the situation that the people of Scotland are trying to escape.

It is against that background that we should judge the Bill, which must be seen as a way of people getting some respite from the damage that the Tory party has caused the country, the people of Scotland and the rest of the UK for many years. People can see no respite. Indeed, the Government are saying not only that they

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are going to keep up the pressure on austerity but that when we are back in balance they will still do so, which means that the people of this country—working people and the people who can least afford it—will be put under more and more pressure.

Under the long-term economic plan, it was all supposed to be roses by now, but we all know what happened to that. It was all supposed to be happy by 2014, but that certainly did not happen. People have had enough of carrying the can for failure. The Bill is a chance to put things right. I say to comrades from Scotland: do not do this in isolation from the people of England, because we deserve the same as your people.

7.53 pm

Karin Smyth (Bristol South) (Lab): I am grateful for the opportunity to make my maiden speech after the excellent maiden speech by the hon. Member for Aberdeen South (Callum McCaig) and the speech by the hon. Member for Blaydon (Mr Anderson).

I am pleased to make a speech in a debate about matters that have important implications for my constituents, even though they cannot take part in it. We are at an important point in the history of these islands. As a southern English MP, daughter of recent Irish immigrants, and a proud European, I hope to play my part in shaping the future constitutional arrangements of these islands on behalf of the people I now serve. The people of Scotland have debated these issues for many years, and in the past year they have sent two strong messages. They wish to be part of the United Kingdom, but they wish to see something very different. The people of Bristol have also sent strong messages, and we all need to be mindful and find our own inner Gladstone. We need to understand those messages, be mindful of our shared history and proffer a way forward.

It is a great honour to serve as the Member for Bristol South. Dawn Primarolo, my predecessor, served as an MP for 28 years, and in paying tribute to her I should like to say what big shoes she has left for me to fill. In Parliament, Dawn took on shadow Health and Treasury roles, and in government she served the Treasury as Financial Secretary and Paymaster General before subsequent ministerial roles at the Department of Health, and at Children, Schools and Families. As Mr Speaker said, Dawn served with distinction as Deputy Speaker from 2010 until she stood down this year. When first elected in 1997, she was the only Labour MP in the south-west. Now we are four—that is progress. She was one of only 41 women, but now we are 191, which is perhaps better progress. I owe her, and the women who have come before me, a great deal. It is a debt that I intend to repay to the women who will follow.

Dawn’s dedication and commitment was evident for all to see, and her record is closely linked to that of the Labour Government in improving the lives of local people. There are too many examples to give, so I shall just touch on a couple. The building of a community hospital after a 70-year campaign is one, but I shall really pick up on education. All the secondary schools in Bristol were rebuilt under Labour’s Building Schools for the Future programme. The sun shone and the roofs were not just fixed, they were rebuilt, and the infrastructure and standards were improved. Thanks to teachers, support staff and governors, all Bristol South secondary schools

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are now rated good or better by Ofsted. However, attainment in some of our most economically challenged communities is still far below where it should be, and today in Bristol South new opportunities are needed to offer hope and aspiration for all, whatever path young people seek to pursue. It is a constituency whose people, down the years, have played a vital part in our country’s prosperity.

Bedminster in my constituency was home to more than a dozen coal mines. Well into the 20th century, many local people spent their working lives underground in dark and dangerous conditions, paid only for the coal that they cut. Hartcliffe formerly hosted what was Europe’s largest cigarette-manufacturing factory when it opened in 1974. Bristol South has a proud industrial heritage but, despite being manufacturers of growth, its people were rarely rewarded or permitted to share in its fruits. In fact, many paid a high cost—from lives lost in the Dean Lane pit disaster to industrial illnesses and the health problems caused by tobacco, in the manufacture of which the city played a pivotal role.

There is a special warmth and generosity among South Bristol people. They are, to use a well-known local phrase, “gert lush”. They are forward-looking, ready to seize chances to help to shape a future for themselves, their families and their communities. Those communities are strong, and a great variety of community groups and enterprises have grown up to provide help and support. Having powered economic growth in the past, residents are eager to play their part in doing so again. Equipping the people of Bristol South with the skills and knowledge that they need to be part of that growth for the changes that lie ahead is the biggest challenge for my constituency.

In many ways, Bristol’s story is a tale of two cities. It has thriving universities and booming finance, high-tech and creative sectors, but it also has areas of severe economic disadvantage. My constituency has immense talent in its workforce, young and old, but too often people’s potential lies dormant, latent and untapped, waiting to be triggered by local leadership and economic opportunities. This is where the Government’s grand design on devolution puzzles my constituents, prompting the question: where does Bristol—indeed where do Swindon, Exeter, Plymouth and the rest of the south-west—fit in the emerging narrative dominated by Scotland, Wales and the north?

The Government say that they are intent on devolving power to English regions but only where there is an elected mayor—a depressingly familiar, unadventurous, command-and-control approach to power sharing from central Government. The proposal invests all power in one individual. There is no compunction on that individual, perhaps other than having an eye on an election every few years, to consult, co-operate and negotiate solutions with other elected and civic leaders, or with communities, however they are represented.

Bristol was the only city to vote in favour of an elected mayor when given an opportunity. Bristol’s Mayor was elected by 9% of Bristolians on a turnout of 27%. Three years on, what is the lesson from this experiment to other English cities? Bristolians are still waiting for improvements to transport, housing, skills and jobs. Bristol should be at the forefront of the devolution

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debate, not lagging behind. The west of England is already an economic powerhouse with an economy worth £26 billion a year, and a net contributor to the Treasury.

The sensible strategic way ahead for my constituents is for communities’ real needs to be shaped not by distant legislators with a one-size-fits-all proposal or individual mayors with pet projects, but by the people and communities affected. I have spoken about the need for us to understand messages received from the people of Scotland about our shared history. One of the key lessons to emerge in recent years from Scotland and from Bristol is that power needs to be shared with communities and with individuals, not just with town halls and professional local politicians.

In recent years my constituents have heard much discussion about Scottish devolution, and in recent months about the so-called northern powerhouse. I know that collectively Bristol South’s residents have the skills, energy and potential to create a western powerhouse if only they are empowered to do so, and I look forward to supporting them all to make it happen.

Several hon. Members rose

Mr Deputy Speaker (Mr Hoyle): Order. Before I bring the next speaker in, I am going to raise the time limit to nine minutes.

8.1 pm

Jeff Smith (Manchester, Withington) (Lab): Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker, for calling me to make my maiden speech. It is a pleasure to follow my hon. Friend the Member for Bristol South (Karin Smyth), who made an excellent speech. Many Members in all parts of the Chamber have made excellent maiden speeches today and raised the bar very high.

I begin by paying tribute to my predecessor, John Leech. John and I have had many political differences, but I respect his dedication to Liberal values, and no one would deny his commitment to his constituency or his hard work for the people of south Manchester. Despite our differences, we share one common cause. He is, like me, a long-time season ticketholder at Manchester City, and I wish both John and his football team the very best for the future. I pay tribute, too, to John’s predecessor, Keith Bradley, now Lord Bradley. Keith was also a hard-working and committed MP for Manchester, Withington, as well as a highly respected Minister, and he has given me much support and advice over the years. I know he took particular pleasure in my victory on 7 May.

Above all, I would like to say thank you to the people of Manchester, Withington for giving me the huge privilege of serving them in Parliament. I am very proud to do so. It is the constituency where I was born into a Labour family. My parents met at a dance in the 1950s organised by the Labour party League of Youth. My uncle, Albert Winstanley, was Labour election agent in the 1960s for Old Moat ward in my constituency. His electoral ambition was to get close enough to the Tories to ask for a recount—an ambition which, sadly, he never quite achieved, so he will be pleased that Labour won the election in Withington with no need for a recount. Our majority of almost 15,000 was a decisive

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verdict on five years of the Liberal Democrats propping up a Tory Government that made life harder for the people of Manchester.

I have always lived in Withington because it is the diverse, thriving, vibrant cultural heart of our city. It has areas of deprivation that have suffered badly under the austerity programme of the previous Government, but it boasts successful high-tech industry such as Siemens in West Didsbury. It has great public services, such as world-class cancer treatment at the Christie hospital. It is home to students, graduates and academics from our superb Manchester universities. Although mainly residential, it has fine parks, the Mersey valley and my favourite place, the Fletcher Moss botanical gardens. It is home to the excellent Chorlton and Didsbury arts festivals, and to many people who work in creative industries, such as musicians, artists, poets and—as I was in my former life—DJs.

Withington can even boast of being the birthplace of an Oscar-winning actor, Robert Donat, who won his Academy award in 1939 for his role as a teacher in “Goodbye, Mr Chips”. One of his rival Oscar nominees that year was James Stewart for his role in “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington”, where he played an innocent, decent and principled politician called Jeff Smith. It has always been a role close to my heart—a role emblematic of the difference one individual can make in politics, and I hope I can make a difference in that spirit.

My first political speech in Manchester, Withington was as Labour candidate in a mock general election debate at Old Moat primary school. I remember standing making my speech, aged 11, feeling nervous and somewhat out of place. Some things do not change. I am happy to say I won that election, and have won several since. I am proud to have served for 18 years as a councillor in Manchester—a great city of radicalism, innovation and creativity. It is often said that what Manchester does today, the rest of the world does tomorrow. One of the many areas where this is true is local government, where the city council and the Greater Manchester combined authority are pioneering new ways of working, delivering jobs and growth.

The debate today is about devolution of power and responsibility. Labour is the party of devolution so I welcome proposals for devolution of power to Scotland, as I welcome further devolution of extra powers to Manchester and other cities. The people of the Greater Manchester city region are ready to rise to the challenge of creating growth and improving services, but with the extra responsibility must come the resources to deliver. As a former cabinet member for finance, I am painfully aware of the impact on vulnerable people when local services are starved of Government funding. Local government has taken the hardest hit from Government cuts, and in England it is the poorer, mainly northern cities which have taken the biggest hit of all. If we want our communities to thrive, if we want localism and devolution to work, we must give local people the ability and the resources to make it happen.

After 18 years in Manchester town hall, I had spent a long time in a huge neo-Gothic Victorian building full of politicians, so this year I thought I would do something new. In coming to the House of Commons, I hope to work hard to represent the people of Manchester, Withington, but I hope to fight for wider progressive causes; to combat climate change, the biggest challenge

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of our time; to tackle the housing crisis that affects so many people in my constituency; to argue for reform of our discredited and ineffective drug laws, and maybe even our discredited and ineffective Prime Minister’s Question Time; to fight poverty and defend human rights in this United Kingdom and abroad; and to create a better country—not one where we balance the books at the expense of the most vulnerable, but one where we build a more equal, more tolerant, more compassionate society.

This is a time to work together to face the challenges of the 21st century, not a time for separation, either within the UK or from the rest of Europe. We build a better world together. A belief in collectivism and fairness is at the heart of Labour politics. Last week I heard maiden speakers quote great heroes—Gandhi and Mandela—but I will end with some words from one of my personal heroes, Bruce Springsteen, who put it very simply when he said, “Nobody wins unless everybody wins.”

8.8 pm

Hannah Bardell (Livingston) (SNP): Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker, and let me welcome you back to your position in the House as I take up mine. Thank you for this opportunity to make my maiden speech in this very important debate. Unlike my taking of the oath, I hope I will have to make this speech only once.

I follow the hon. Member for Manchester, Withington (Jeff Smith), and I share his passion for football. It is a sport that I played as a young girl growing up, and I am still partial to a game of five-a-side. Perhaps if we cannot come to an agreement on the motions this evening, we can fight it out on the football field.

I have the honour to represent the constituency of Livingston in the county of West Lothian. I am proud to be the first woman to represent the constituency at Westminster, and I am also proud to be the third of three women parliamentary representatives for our county, following in the footsteps of Angela Constance MSP and Fiona Hyslop MSP, both of whom have given me great support. I have the honour to speak for my party on fair work and employment, and I want to leave this House in no doubt as to the weight of the issues at the heart of this brief. As I address those issues, I have my own family history, as well as the people and communities of my constituency, very much at the front of my mind. It is their and my expectation that the Scotland Bill should address those issues, with adequate powers to create a culture of dignity in work, tackle income inequality and thereby enhance economic growth in Scotland.

However, I wish first to pay tribute to my predecessor, Graeme Morrice, who served as MP for Livingston from 2010 and, before that, from 1987, gave many years of conscientious service as a councillor. Personally, I am particularly appreciative of his gracious comments to me on election night.

As with many constituency designations, the name Livingston does not convey the breadth and diversity of the many communities that lie within it. It encompasses the large new town of Livingston as well as many smaller villages boasting fine names, such as Fauldhouse, Pumpherston, Broxburn, Bents and Roman Camps, to name but a few. Those smaller communities fiercely defend their individual identities, even though the mining—

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coal and shale—railway and manufacturing industries that defined them have disappeared or changed beyond all recognition.

The constituency combines old and new, continuing a history of innovation and invention in ways that strive to look forward without losing the past. The oil industry began in my constituency with the first extraction of oil from coal and shale, and the town of Livingston has gone on to play its part in the development of, for example, sonar scanning, bionic prosthetic limbs by the company Touch Bionics and soft contact lenses. Mitsubishi is one of the biggest employers in my constituency, and its work to encourage young people into engineering and STEM—science, technology, engineering and maths—careers is to be commended. I am also delighted to be able to inform the House that, as confirmed during a meeting in New York with the First Minister, the manufacturing company Jabil is set to invest £12.5 million in its Livingston plant, creating 212 new jobs and safeguarding 147 existing manufacturing roles.

I also want to highlight the West Lothian Credit Union, which has done incredible work to give those on low wages the opportunity to save and borrow in a safe and ethical way. I would like to see such credit unions given greater powers to inject more investment into small and medium-sized businesses, which are the lifeblood of our communities.

My constituency also boasts many community projects, such as The Vennie in Knightsridge, which I visited recently, and Firefly Arts, which is giving young people great opportunities to develop valuable life skills. Two of many local charities in my constituency have been set up by families who lost their children way too early to cancer. Jak Trueman and Michelle Henderson both died tragically young, but their memories live on in the tremendous work their families are doing to raise awareness and funds. There is such inspiring ingenuity and determination in my constituency, despite the setbacks of deindustrialisation.

My brother and I were brought up in Craigshill, one of Livingston’s original and smaller areas, by a single mother who worked full time in an era when childcare cover was an afterthought and single-parent families were often demonised. In the little spare time my mother had, she fought tooth and nail for our local area. I feel fortunate to have been educated locally, to have had a free university education and to have had a career that has included working in the media, politics, international relations and, most recently, the oil and gas industry.

My brother and I were also fortunate in having the support of our grandparents for a good number of years. Both were from mining families, forced from school by poverty at age 14, but none the less extensively self-educated and widely read. My grandfather began his working life as a “pit fitter”, before going on to be an aircraft fitter in the RAF during the battle of Britain. He started one of the early small businesses in the new town of Livingston, his own precision engineering company. My grandmother was a time-served gents’ tailoress who then worked for Rolls-Royce during the second world war. My great grandmother on my grandfather’s side marched with the suffragettes. Political activism started many years ago in my family. Mr Deputy Speaker, you cannot know people like that and not be committed to

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the dignity of labour. Those were people who knew their own worth, believed in strong trade unions and were prepared, at the risk of the direst poverty, to walk away from work that assaulted their dignity, and they did so on numerous occasions.

I hope to use every opportunity to remind this House that our mission for our citizens is not just to wrangle over how many hours makes an acceptable contract, or how many pence we should add to or take off employers’ national insurance contributions, as important as those considerations undoubtedly are; our mission, in exerting our collective legislative skills, is to say to our citizens that we understand, we care about and we intend to promote and deliver on their right to secure, productive employment that contributes to this nation’s economic progress and, crucially, supports the kind of life that every citizen has a right to expect.

In my experience, most of our citizens are not looking for executive directorships to top up already large earned or unearned incomes. Our citizens want a sense of self- worth from a valued contribution in work, the camaraderie of shared effort, enough time and disposable income to spend rewarding time with their families and to offer decent opportunities for their children. It says much for the direction in which the UK is headed that we are having to argue so relentlessly for that, as if it were a privilege. Neither is this need to argue just a reflection of global forces or immigration. Other countries, not least our northern Nordic neighbours, have long since made it the fabric of their societies. Those are the questions that Scotland asked itself at the referendum: what kind of country do we the citizens want? I am in no doubt that that is why we got the level of engagement we did. I am also in no doubt that, at the heart of people’s aspiration—a much overworked but not much defined word—these are largely modest but enormously dignified desires.

Mr Deputy Speaker, you may understand, then, my desire to do all I can to try and influence this House to take seriously and address the urgent need for this country to declare its commitment to a culture of fairness and dignity in work, and to implement all necessary measures in pursuit of it. Scotland and my party are clear in their commitment to work to achieve that. My constituents and the overwhelming majority of Scotland’s electorate voted for it. We require legislation with the requisite powers to deliver it, and we require it now. The Scottish Government are already the first UK Government to become an accredited living wage employer, and I urge the UK Government to make a start on reducing the scourges of increasing income inequality and in-work poverty by following where Scotland has led.

We are, as politicians, also human beings, none of us infallible and none of us indispensable. On the day I had to repeat my oath, I spent a few moments reflecting on my mistake and what great expectation and scrutiny there is on all of us as parliamentarians. I was sitting outside by the Emmeline Pankhurst memorial, and I was reminded of her struggle and of what she did for all of us. Thank you.

8.17 pm

Ruth Smeeth (Stoke-on-Trent North) (Lab): Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker, for giving me the opportunity to make my maiden speech in such an important debate.

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It is an honour and a privilege, which I hope I will never take for granted, to stand here representing my constituency. I am sure that you will agree that my new colleagues have set the bar very high in their maiden speeches and done their constituencies proud, not least the hon. Member for Livingston (Hannah Bardell), who delivered an excellent speech.

However, I have to disagree with many of my new colleagues: although they may have very pleasant constituencies, it is of course mine, Stoke-on-Trent North and Kidsgrove, that is the most beautiful and inspiring. From our industrial heritage in the mother town of the potteries to the beautiful Victorian parks and canals, I bow to no one in maintaining that I live in the most beautiful constituency in the country. But it is not just the architecture and the landscape that make Stoke-on-Trent North and Kidsgrove so special; it is the people, to whose industry and talent our city stands as testament.

My constituency was built on the blood, sweat and tears of working people. It was their labour in the great industries—pits, pots and steel—that drove our city forward. We gave the country and the world a celebrated ceramics industry, including the crockery used in this House, which, for the record, was made in my constituency. But our creativity goes far beyond that; it is reflected in the work of so many proud Stokies, from Josiah Wedgwood to Reginald Mitchell, who designed the spitfire, and from Clarice Cliff to Robbie Williams.

Local businesses are capitalising on this in the new and creative technologies, from augmented reality to tidal lagoon power. We need to harness this creativity in order to build a brighter future for my city and for my residents where the stories of these successes are the norm, where my constituents have more options for skilled work, where Stoke-on-Trent will no longer be a living-wage blackspot and a zero-hours-contract area, and where the blight of poverty and the use of food banks will be consigned to the dustbin of history where it belongs rather than being a daily occurrence.

I am lucky enough to represent the best of British—the kindest, most industrious people—but my community deserves better. They embody what Government Members would call the big society, but what we in Stoke simply call community. In spite of the savage cuts made by this Government and the impact on real people’s lives, we have seen the best of humanity as they unite to look after each other and protect our city. From Mike and Pat at the Burslem Park Pavilion, where they have created a social enterprise to restore one of our country’s original Victorian parks, to Rev. Ashley Cooper and his amazing team at Swanbank church who were granted the Queen’s award for voluntary service for their community work. It is not just these incredibly generous community acts that I wish to celebrate, as we also have wonderful facilities protected by the community to mark our place in history, from our war memorial gardens in Tunstall to the Victoria Hall in Kidsgrove, which the Speaker of the House himself visited during the previous Parliament to promote local democracy.

All these organisations were well served by my predecessor, Joan Walley, who joined this House when I was only seven years old. I know how respected and well thought of she was by people from across the political spectrum. She was noted for her passion not only about our local football team, Port Vale, but about issues pertaining to the environment, serving my party

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and our country as a shadow spokesperson on transport and the environment when we were last in opposition, and then as Chair of the Environmental Audit Committee in the previous Parliament. As our MP for 28 years, she has left huge shoes to fill, and I hope to do her proud.

Joan was not the first woman to represent our seat. In fact, I have the honour of being the third female Labour MP for my constituency since the war. The first was Harriet Slater, an inspiration, who was elected in 1953 in a by-election. She became the first female Whip to serve my party and this House. However, it is her passion against racism that I wish to comment on. Sixty-two years ago she sat in this Chamber as a new MP and was so horrified by the tone of the debate that she intervened to make her maiden speech without any preparation—something I really cannot comprehend. The subject of that debate was the colour bar, where Members of this House were actually debating whether black and white children should be educated in the same classrooms. This was abhorrent to her as it should be to all of us. She intervened in anger, and I hope to replicate her conviction and her passion in the years ahead to protect and promote the hard-earned equalities that we now take for granted.

It is with that thought that I wish to turn to the subject matter in hand. I stand here today, probably much to the confusion of hon. Members from the SNP, as a proud Scot. I was born in Edinburgh. I am the granddaughter of a blacklisted Scottish steelworker who became a miner, and my father was blacklisted for leading the first insurance industry strike in Scotland. My mother Lucy is also a proud trade unionist and quite simply my inspiration as a strong and determined woman who dedicated her life to fighting for those who could not fight for themselves. It is because of her commitment and support that I stand here today. I simply hope to emulate her. Her family were forced to flee the Russian pogroms, scapegoated in the name of nationalism and intolerance. My family were not militant, but rather proud socialists and, most importantly, internationalists. They saw nationalism, at worst, as an evil doctrine which poisoned working people against each other, and at best as a distraction from the true battles we fight to make the world a better place for the people who need our help.

For these reasons, I have spent most of my life campaigning against the politics of hate and division, against extremism and nationalism. I am proud of the leading role I have had with Hope Not Hate to defeat the BNP and to make sure that UKIP was limited in its success. But nationalism comes in many guises, and we need to stand united to fight for a better world and for the good of our communities, which is why I will also be fighting for the Union. I will be campaigning for a fair deal for the people of Scotland just as I will be fighting for a better deal for north Staffordshire. There is much more that unites the communities of Bonnybridge and Burslem than divides them. Poverty is poverty whether in Stoke-on-Trent or Stirling, and equality of opportunity needs to be the same in Kidsgrove as it is in Kirkcaldy. We are stronger when we are united.

We have much work ahead of us, but in the words of one of my more famous citizens, Arnold Bennett:

“It is easier to go down a hill than up, but the view is from the top.”

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I will keep climbing that hill because I know the view will be worth the effort. I look forward to serving the people of Stoke-on-Trent North and Kidsgrove in the years to come, and I hope to live up to the faith they have placed in me.

8.25 pm

Kirsten Oswald (East Renfrewshire) (SNP): Let me begin by congratulating the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent North (Ruth Smeeth) and the other Members who have made their first speeches so well today.

It is with a great sense of honour that I make this speech in this important debate here today, and with a deep sense of gratitude and responsibility to the people of East Renfrewshire. I chose to live in East Renfrewshire with my family, and there is no place that I would rather be. East Renfrewshire is made up of the some of the most vibrant, active and diverse communities in Scotland. Just like the new Members on these Benches, East Renfrewshire benefits very significantly from the diverse backgrounds and traditions of its people. For those who may not be familiar with my constituency, it sits just to the south of Glasgow, stretching from the city boundaries right out to Whitelee forest in the south. The distinct areas that make up the constituency all have a strong sense of identity, and perhaps an even stronger sense of community spirit.

I am delighted to follow such a high profile MP as my predecessor, Jim Murphy. No one can dispute the mark that he made on Scottish and UK politics, and I wish him well.

There has never been an SNP MP in my constituency before. In the 2010 election, we were fourth. In fact, prior to 1997, East Renfrewshire was the safest Conservative seat in Scotland, and since then it had been considered one of the safest Labour seats. But the appetite for change in Scotland is immense. My constituents, just like people all over Scotland, want their voices to be heard, loudly and clearly. They expect to be listened to—so they should—and this House must recognise that.

East Renfrewshire is blessed with rolling countryside and farmland, with glorious parks and suburbia, and it is a beautiful place. The lovely rural village of Uplawmoor leads down to the ancient parish of Neilston, with its beautiful old church. We travel north to the bustling town of Barrhead, home to the famous Arthurlie football club, and east to our largest town, Newton Mearns, a modern area in many ways, but with roots stretching back to the bronze age, and on through our beautiful Rouken Glen park to Thornliebank, where the Crum family for many years combined their print works with philanthropy, and to Giffnock and Eastwood Park Theatre, and then to my own home area of Clarkston, with the National Trust for Scotland’s Greenbank gardens, and Busby, where it is a pleasure to walk in Busby glen. There is a scenic route along the White Cart Water through Waterfoot, and up to Eaglesham, an historic conservation village, and gateway to the wind farm at Whitelee.

East Renfrewshire is in many ways a place of contrasts, just like modern Scotland. We are lucky to have active and energetic faith communities playing a full part in

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local life. This includes being home to Scotland’s largest Jewish community, a growing and vibrant Muslim community, and thriving Christian, Hindu and Sikh communities. We have an incredible community spirit in East Renfrewshire. Groups run by local people are at the heart of our area, and they contribute hugely to making it the positive and welcoming place that it is. Such groups include the Neilston and Uplawmoor First Responders, who have dealt with hundreds of emergencies in the past year, and the Queen’s award-winning Super Kids club for children with additional support needs and their families. That great range of community and voluntary groups hugely enriches my area. People are incredibly community-minded. They turn out in huge numbers for events such as the Eaglesham fair, which took place successfully amid high winds and torrential rain on Saturday, and for elections. I am privileged to represent an area with such an engaged electorate.

Historically, industry in East Renfrewshire was based on cotton mills, manufacturing and farming. The balance of business has changed; we continue to have numerous farms in our rural areas, as well as a range of other successful businesses, many of which benefit from positive business growth schemes such as the small business bonus. Many more would benefit from the increased economic powers that we would like for Scotland. Our businesses now range from high-end international companies such as Linn Products to small businesses such as The Wee Fudge Company, which operates from a house in Stamperland and produces a most delicious Scottish fudge that would surely sell well in the Members’ Tea Room. We need all of our businesses to thrive, no matter what their size. For that, we need levers to grow our economy and ensure that more of my constituents are economically active.

Many people in East Renfrewshire are doing well—they live comfortably in our lovely leafy suburbs and beautiful rural villages—but it is not like that for everyone. A great many people in East Renfrewshire would not recognise that reality at all. Many of them struggle badly to feed themselves and their families in lovely, leafy East Renfrewshire. We have food banks, because we need them; we have a school uniform bank, because we need one. That is a scandal. I have seen for myself the difficulties and indignities that people face, and I cannot begin to understand how, in 2015, families and children in my community are hungry. Children go to school without breakfast. They are children whose parents are doing their best but face barriers too great for them to surmount. They are families in which people are working, families in which people would like to work and families in which someone has become ill or disabled. If a measure of our society is how we treat the most vulnerable among us, we have a long way to go.

People all over East Renfrewshire see that, which is why they voted for change and for greater powers for Scotland, to allow us to make the changes that we need to ensure that we can have a sustainable, successful economy and ensure that we no longer neglect those of us who are struggling. Things have moved on significantly since the Smith agreement. The election result reflects clearly that people in my constituency and across Scotland voted for something more. They voted for real powers to create more jobs, boost wages and protect our welfare state. That is why it is vital that our voice is heard clearly here on the Scotland Bill.

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People in this House have spoken a lot about aspiration over the past couple of weeks. Many in my constituency aspire—our schools are the envy of the country—but aspiration is an uneasy bedfellow for the ever-increasing inequality in our society and our communities. This Government have the opportunity in the Bill to ensure that Scotland has the powers to deliver successful economic policies and tackle that inequality, and we will push every day to do so.

8.32 pm

Sue Hayman (Workington) (Lab): It is an honour to give my maiden speech after so many excellent maiden speeches in this debate. I am only the fifth Member of Parliament for Workington since the constituency was established in 1918, but I am the first woman to be elected to represent the constituency, and in fact the first woman ever elected to Parliament in Cumbria. It is an honour and a privilege, and I intend to serve my constituency diligently.

As this is my maiden speech, before I come to the subject of the debate, I shall follow the tradition of the House by paying tribute to my predecessor, Sir Tony Cunningham, who represented the Workington constituency for 14 years. I am sure that hon. Members from all parties will join me in wishing him well in his retirement. Sir Tony began his career as a teacher before being elected to represent Cumbria and Lancashire North in the European Parliament. He then worked for human rights organisations until his election to this House in 2001. His passion for that work made him the ideal choice to join the Front Bench as shadow Minister for International Development.

Sir Tony took his constituency responsibilities seriously, working hard for Workington and for individual constituents. In retirement, he continues to champion local charities. Throughout his career, he stood up for the poor and vulnerable both at home and overseas, and his commitment to helping others, some of them in truly desperate circumstances, will always define him and provide a humbling reminder to us all.

Sir Tony has said that his proudest achievement was saving Cumbria’s cottage hospitals when they were under threat of closure. At that time, the Health Secretary was my right hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle (Alan Johnson), who listened to and understood Cumbria’s particular needs. I hope that this Government will do the same over people’s concerns for West Cumberland hospital and the services that are under threat today.

Sir Tony’s predecessor, Dale Campbell-Savours, continues to serve the public, now from the other place. He remains greatly admired and respected in the Workington constituency, for both his fight and his intellect. No cause was too large or too small. If people needed help, he was there for them.

Many hon. Members have told us in their maiden speeches how beautiful their constituencies are. Mine runs from the summit of Skiddaw in the Lake District national park to the sparkling sea and spectacular sunsets of the Solway coast, an area of outstanding natural beauty and a wildlife habitat of international importance.

In addition to the country’s most dramatic and beautiful landscape and coastline, the constituency has a strong and proud industrial heritage—from mining and steelworks

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and the flourishing port at Workington, to the fishing boats of Maryport, the large farming community and the thriving tourism industry. It is also part of Britain’s energy coast, which is bringing thousands of jobs and billions of pounds of investment to west Cumbria through nuclear, tidal and other energy projects.

The Solway forms the western border between England and Scotland and over the centuries, part of my constituency, like other areas of the borders, has been subject to Scottish raiding parties. I must say to hon. Members from north of the border how relieved I am that the famous Scottish national uprising of 2015 stopped short of Cumbria for once. They might also be interested to know that Mary Queen of Scots spent her last night of freedom in Workington hall, because we are renowned for our hospitality.

To go even further back in history, fortifications associated with Hadrian’s wall were built in west Cumbria by the Romans as a defence against the Scots—and the native Cumbrians, too, for that matter. At Maryport’s famous Senhouse Roman Museum, it is still possible to see the remains of the fort and many artefacts, which illustrate the importance of west Cumbria in the defence of the realm—a role the county continues to fulfil today through the vital Trident submarines in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Barrow and Furness (John Woodcock).

The gem town of Cockermouth is also in my constituency. The childhood home of William Wordsworth, Wordsworth house, has been opened to the public by the National Trust. Another famous—or should I say infamous?—local lad is Fletcher Christian, who led the mutiny on the Bounty. He now has a pub named after him on Main Street. Talking of pubs, Cockermouth’s most famous export, the legendary Jennings beer, is still brewed at the old Castle brewery in the town centre.

More recently, Cockermouth became famous for the floods that devastated homes and businesses in November 2009 when the River Derwent swept through the town centre. Those same floods claimed the life of policeman Bill Barker in Workington when a bridge collapsed. Both towns showed extraordinary courage and resilience in rebuilding after the floods, and PC Barker’s bravery that night will never be forgotten. The new footbridge over the river in Workington is named Barker’s Crossing in his memory.

Sir Tony worked with the local communities to fight back after the floods, but the work is not yet finished and I have pledged to carry on campaigning for proper flood defences wherever they are needed, to try to ensure that such a tragedy never again happens in Workington or Cockermouth.

To finish the tour of my constituency, I must mention the beautiful seaside town of Silloth, with its famous golf course, and Aspatria, the old mining and market town, which shares a passion for rugby—both league and union—with its larger neighbours.

I would have thought that the grit, passion and heritage I have spoken of would mark out west Cumbria as a key part of the northern powerhouse. I am pleased that the Chancellor has recognised that the north of England can contribute positively to the UK, but I would like to take this opportunity to remind him that the north-west extends considerably beyond Manchester. The northern powerhouse is focused on cities more

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than 100 miles south of west Cumbria. We have been shouldering heavy cuts to local government and public services, and the energy coast investment that I referred to earlier is still a few years away. Cumbria must not be left out. We need to see a proper devolution of powers across the region, not just to the big cities, so we can deliver our potential. We cannot allow areas such as west Cumbria to be left behind just because we are beyond the M6 corridor and the west coast main line.

As well as looking south to contribute to the northern powerhouse, we should also support the devolution of further powers to Scotland, because the time for rivalry has long since gone. Much of Dumfries and Galloway, for example, is as far from Glasgow and Edinburgh as west Cumbria is from Manchester or Leeds. We must forge cross-border alliances to bring investment in areas such as transport, energy, tourism, education and rural development that benefit the border communities on either side of the national boundary. There are already significant connections between people living in the borders region, whether on the English or the Scottish side. Many jobs depend on the business transacted daily across the border. Many families have members living on both sides of the border, and every day many commuters see the M74 turn into the M6 and back again.

We have a huge opportunity before us now to build social and economic prosperity that embraces both the diversity and the common interest of everyone in the border regions. We owe it to future generations to work together, rather than move apart, and I want the devolution of powers and resources to benefit everyone, not just those who live on one side of Gretna Green and not the other.

8.41 pm

Simon Hoare (North Dorset) (Con): It is a pleasure to be called in this debate and to speak after some excellent speeches. The hon. Member for Livingston (Hannah Bardell) left us tantalisingly in the air for her quote, which we look forward to hearing on another occasion. I first met the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent North (Ruth Smeeth) while waiting for our IT to be sorted out—she was there two and a half hours after me—and I am glad to see she has resolved her problems and is in her place. She spoke passionately about her constituency, as did the hon. Members for East Renfrewshire (Kirsten Oswald) and for Workington (Sue Hayman).

Right hon. and hon. Members may wonder why a Member of Parliament for one of the southernmost seats of England, North Dorset, sought to speak on the Second Reading of the Scotland Bill. I did so as a fellow Celt, albeit a Welshman, who fought two seats in Wales before securing victory in North Dorset. I was very much involved in fighting the then Labour Government’s campaign in Wales. The genie was out of the bottle: there is now a settlement, and we live with the consequences—some of the downsides and some of the upsides.

In an intervention earlier, my hon. Friend the Member for South Cambridgeshire (Heidi Allen) talked about trust. At that point, SNP Members laughed slightly, though I was pleased that, in his speech, the hon. Member for Moray (Angus Robertson) accepted the

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purpose of the point she made—that in this debate we need to have trust. It may be that my following remarks are out of keeping or out of step with what a new Member should say, but that has never stopped me in the past and it will not stop me now.

It is probably quite hard to build the relationship of trust required, because the political landscape shifted very considerably on 7 May. Those of us who would describe ourselves as strong Unionists—by intellect as much as by heart, gut and passion—were left aghast at the nationalist tide, coming so recently after a referendum that said, “No, we don’t want to go down that particular route.” It has left the Labour party bereft of seasoned colleagues, expert opinion and wise heads in this House. It should be no surprise to anybody, not least the leadership of the nationalists, that their success has left a huge sense of head-scratching and bewilderment on the Conservative Benches as much as it has among Labour Members. We need to build trust among ourselves and with the nationalist party, just as it needs to build trust with us. I would guess that many SNP Members do not believe in their hearts that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and the Government are serious about that, but I do not think that anyone who listened to my right hon. Friend’s opening speech could have been left with any impression other than one of his absolute and passionate commitment to delivering the additional powers that Scotland and the Scottish people want.

We will be judged on the basis of our actions in that regard. We will be judged on the basis of how we vote, and how we engage in the debate. I am pleased to see that the hon. Member for Moray is nodding. May I ask something of him and his colleagues? Conservative Members—along with Labour Members—take a different view of the final destination for Scotland. We want to see a proud Scotland in a strong and robust United Kingdom; SNP Members want to see a strong Scotland that is an independent force in the world. They have advised us that they are not seeking to pick off the scabs of the referendum debate, and that they are here to try to make the settlement—a settlement on which the Scottish people agreed back in September—work. May I ask them, and their leadership, not to freeze us out of that debate?

The fact that we are Unionists, and the fact that we may come from other parts of the Celtic regions or elsewhere, do not mean that we are any less sincere, or any less committed to the success that we want Scotland to be. The tone of some SNP speeches today seemed to suggest—almost as if certain Members were delegates for Miss Sturgeon and the Scottish Government—that those who were not part of the Holyrood project somehow had no right to take part in the debate. The hon. Member for Moray looks confused, but we all know that tone and body language are important, and as I sat on this side of the House, listening to all the speeches, that was the impression with which I was left. In my humble judgment, such a tone will not lead to the relationship of mutual trust and certainty that all quarters of the House need to build if we are to make this settlement work.

As I have said, our view and our vision of the ultimate destination is different from that of the SNP, but we want the Scotland Bill to work. Scotland is a proud and vibrant part of the United Kingdom, and we—Conservative Members—wish it to remain so. That

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will pose some challenges if, for example, the SNP continues its tsunami of decapitation in next May’s Holyrood election. I am tempted to call this the Madame Defarge Parliament, because I believe that more heads have been removed than at any time since the French Revolution. I am not complaining about that, for the will of the Scottish people was expressed in the ballot box, but if it continues next May it may destabilise a little further the foundations of trust that we are seeking to build and on which, through the Bill, we are seeking to deliver the pledges and promises that were made after the referendum.

I wish my right hon. Friend success in piloting the Bill on the Floor of the House. We wish to take part in the debate, sincerely, pragmatically and positively, but let me end by saying again that I hope SNP Members do not freeze us out of that debate.

8.48 pm

Douglas Chapman (Dunfermline and West Fife) (SNP): It is a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for North Dorset (Simon Hoare). I cannot say that I agree with all his views, but we can discuss that on another occasion. Let me also congratulate the hon. Member for Workington (Sue Hayman) and my hon. Friend the Member for East Renfrewshire (Kirsten Oswald) on their maiden speeches, both of which were thoughtful and gracious. I am sure that the House appreciated them as much as I did.

Thank you, Mr Speaker, for allowing me to take part in this debate on the future governance of Scotland and the granting of further powers to it. It is unlikely that there will be such an important Bill for SNP Members to consider during this first Session of the new Parliament, and we approach it with great vigour and passion. We want to bring home more powers to the people who have put us here: the people of Scotland, the one nation that we hold dear.

Before considering the proposals, may I say a few words about my constituency and echo some of the comments made by my hon. Friend the Member for Rutherglen and Hamilton West (Margaret Ferrier) about the staff of the House of Commons? Every Member on this side of the Chamber has been really amazed by the generous, friendly and warm welcome we have received from all the staff. I want to pay particular tribute to my buddy, Catherine, who helped me through the first few days of being in what is a very strange environment for many of us.

The Dunfermline and West Fife constituency is a real mix of rural, village and large town settlements. Coastal villages, such as Kincardine, Limekilns and Torryburn mix with the rolling hillside villages of Saline and Hill O’Beath. They sit alongside former coalmining villages of Oakley, Blairhall and High Valleyfield. We also have former royal burghs such as Culross, with its magnificent palace, and Inverkeithing, which has its own distinct rich history.

We have many claims to fame. How many hon. Members know that Dunfermline was once the ancient capital of Scotland? Our abbey is the resting place of King Robert the Bruce, an iconic figure in Scottish history who has served as an inspiration to generations of Scots who, like Bruce, sought to reaffirm Scotland’s place in the world as an independent nation.

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Dunfermline is the birthplace of the industrialist, entrepreneur and, later in his life, great philanthropist, Andrew Carnegie. Carnegie made millions of dollars on the back of the railroads and iron and steel industries in America. He realised, perhaps belatedly, that the business of making money must also have a strong social conscience. The two go hand in hand. In today’s terms, Carnegie would have been a multibillionaire. He said

“that a man who dies thus rich, dies disgraced”.

His generosity and philanthropy travel far and wide. Who has not heard of his funding for the great Carnegie Hall? And I do mean the one in Dunfermline, although I believe there is also one in New York. Who is not aware that it was Carnegie’s generosity that brought books and learning to many communities through his support for Carnegie libraries across the world, and that he funded the magnificent Peace Palace in The Hague, where it still serves as a beacon to resolve conflict internationally?

Musically, the constituency has given us great talent over the years. For rock fans, Nazareth and Big Country are a part of our past. If there are any ageing punks in the Chamber tonight, we also have the band The Skids. I believe that my hon. Friend the Member for Perth and North Perthshire (Pete Wishart) may know something about these bands.

More up to date, the skills and talents of the area are being utilised at the likes of Oceaneering, a world-leading undersea technology company, and Rosyth dockyard, where the workforce are building both of our Navy’s aircraft carriers. In recent weeks, I have met the management and the trade unions. They are fiercely proud of the expertise they bring to delivering the carriers project. Like with most activity at Rosyth dockyard, the workforce are bringing in these huge complex projects on time and in budget. Perhaps with a vain hope, I am looking at the Government Front Bench. If UK Government decisions on military procurement were equally efficient and budget aware, perhaps we would be in a better position as regards the national finances.

Another high skill based project on time and under budget is the construction of the new Queensferry crossing, funded by the Scottish Government. On completion in 2016, we will have three generations of new bridges over the Forth. It is truly appropriate that in a few weeks’ time we are all hoping that the Forth rail bridge, an icon of Scottish engineering and the oldest of the three bridges, will gain UNESCO world heritage site status and put it up there with other world heritage sites. This recognition of the rail bridge will bring many new jobs to the west Fife economy as we improve the offer we can make to visitors and tourists to the area.

Government Members—I wish there were a few more here—will be made especially welcome in Dunfermline and West Fife, as we do not get to see many Conservatives in that part of the country. I assure Members, however, that irrespective of the Benches on which they sit, they will be made very welcome—and it says here, “Please bring your wallets”.

I would like to pay a warm tribute to the previous MP, Thomas Docherty, who served his constituents and pursued a wide range of issues here in the House. He served in Parliament from 2010 and rose to the position of shadow Deputy Leader of the House. I wish him well

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for the future. His main claim to fame was his appearance in the TV series “Inside the Commons” where Thomas was seen bedsharing—not at the same time, I might add —with the hon. Member for Wellingborough (Mr Bone) in order to secure more debating time. As a candidate at the time, I was worried that the level of exposure Thomas was getting on prime time television would damage my chances of being elected, but a 10,000 majority suggests my concerns were misplaced. It also reminded me of a valuable political lesson taught to me by my late father: never, never, never, get into bed with the Tories.

I also have a famous—some might say infamous—constituent: the former Chancellor and Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who promised much in the referendum campaign last year. By a slender majority, the no campaign won the day, but given the energy and interest in Scottish politics in recent months, the Bill offering new powers needs to be something special. Whatever measures are proposed, they should carry the support of the Scottish people. During the referendum, we had a huge and engaging campaign that brought to life the sometimes staid and distant world of politics. People felt part of a new, vigorous nation and thought that their views and ideas actually counted. The great challenge for the UK Government is to engage with the ordinary people of Scotland, who have fought so extraordinarily for more powers, and I urge them to consider our amendments as the Bill makes progress through Parliament. They are there for a purpose: to make Scotland stronger and more economically vibrant, to destroy child poverty once and for all and to make us a better nation that all the people of these islands can enjoy and benefit from.

We are in the 56th Parliament, and the SNP has returned 56 Members. I respectfully remind the Government that we are here to do business for our constituents and represent Scotland like it has never been represented before. I hope the Government will respect our mandate and the changing political landscape. The world as we know it has changed. It cannot be business as usual.

8.56 pm

Nick Thomas-Symonds (Torfaen) (Lab): I thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker, for calling me to make a contribution in this debate, and I congratulate you on your recent election victory. I also congratulate the hon. Member for Dunfermline and West Fife (Douglas Chapman) on his maiden speech. I was particularly pleased to hear the tribute to Andrew Carnegie and his well-known social conscience. I thought that his passion and commitment to his constituency shone through his speech, and I look forward to serving with him in the House in the years ahead.

James Keir Hardie said, when asked about his socialist beliefs, that he saw them as arising from a rooted local culture. His belief in localism and the de-centralisation of power led him to a firm belief in devolution. In the career and beliefs of Keir Hardie, a Scot who represented a Welsh constituency, there are lessons for us in this debate. Most of all, if we recognise the qualities and strengths of our family of nations here in these islands, we can strengthen our whole United Kingdom.

I welcome a number of aspects of the Bill, which takes devolution to the next stage. Let us not forget that devolution came about because the Labour Government

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of 1997 to 2010 introduced the widest swathe of constitutional reform since the Great Reform Act 1832. I welcome the formal recognition in law of the status of the Scottish Parliament and, in particular, the increased financial responsibilities, which build on the third pillar of the Smith commission. I also welcome devolution and greater flexibility in several areas of tax, including income tax, VAT, the aggregates levy and air passenger duty. As was set out by my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh South (Ian Murray), however, there are ways in which the Government can go further, and I look forward to that in the course of the debates on the Bill.

Prior to entering the House, I lectured in politics. The first thing I taught at the start of every academic year was the UK constitution, and the one thing I always said to my students was never to see any single measure of devolution in isolation; they have to be seen in the context of the overall settlement and argument for the whole of the UK. Lord Kilbrandon took over the royal commission on the constitution between 1969 and 1973, and it became known by his name. He said that any decisions and debates on public funding that we have here in Westminster affected

“the whole of the United Kingdom”.

That quotation comes from a period before our modern devolution journey began, but I suggest that it is as relevant in 2015 as it was back in 1973.

As we debate finance and funding, it is critical to bear in mind how those issues affect the different constituent parts of our United Kingdom. My point as a Welsh Member—it is important that the voice of Wales is heard during the passage of the Scotland Bill—is that there is a long-standing public debate on the underfunding of Wales in the United Kingdom. It goes back to the Holtham commission of 2010, which identified £300 million of underfunding for Wales, and the same issue runs through part 1 of the Silk commission. Even at this moment, the finance committee of the National Assembly for Wales is debating future funding for Wales. This is a crucial issue for Wales and my Torfaen constituents.

I remind the Secretary of State that the Prime Minister promised earlier this year that Wales would not be left behind. The Chancellor of the Exchequer originally promised a Wales Bill within the first 100 days of this Parliament. Unfortunately, all he has done so far for Wales is to promise a further £3 billion of cuts across the UK, about £84 million of which we expect to fall on Wales. That is hardly a great start when it comes to addressing fair funding for Wales.

The First Minister of Wales, Carwyn Jones, has made it clear that this issue of fair funding has to be dealt with, so I say that a great devolution debate must go ahead in this Parliament and the Secretary of State must bear in mind all the constituent parts of the United Kingdom. History tells us that if particular issues are left untouched in devolution debates, they usually come back and need to be dealt with at a later stage. I urge the Secretary of State to think again about ruling out, from the Dispatch Box, the idea of a constitutional convention, which would not only give all politicians a chance to contribute to the debate, but would involve the wider public in all parts of the United Kingdom. It is important that we end this Parliament with strong devolution within a strong United Kingdom.

Several hon. Members rose

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Mr Deputy Speaker (Mr Hoyle): With two speakers left, I am increasing the time limit to 12 minutes each.

9.2 pm

Emily Thornberry (Islington South and Finsbury) (Lab): There seems to be cross-party support in this place for legislation that would substantially implement the recommendations of the Smith commission. We have heard some interesting contributions, not least from the hon. Member for Moray (Angus Robertson). We all wait with bated breath to see what amendments will be tabled to the Bill to try to establish full fiscal autonomy for Scotland. We certainly hope that in order to fulfil that promise, the amendment will be a little stronger than the one on the Order Paper today, which is all about Scotland moving to

“a position in the medium term where the Scottish Parliament and Government are responsible for all revenue raising”.

That seems to me to be a lot of weasel words and very far away from full fiscal autonomy.

There has been a certain amount of interest in this pledge from people watching the debate in this place, and I have been asked by many where the Scots believe they will get the money needed to fill the hole—we understand it might be £7.6 billion or even £10 billion. However much it is, people in Scotland and presumably across the whole of the United Kingdom will want to know from the Scottish nationalists where that money is going to come from, if they get full fiscal autonomy. The prime opportunity comes from introducing an amendment to this Bill, and we all wait to see what it is going to say.

John Redwood (Wokingham) (Con): When the hon. Lady’s party introduced devolution at the end of the last century, it said that it would settle the kingdom once and for all, and that Scotland would then live very happily in the Union. What went wrong?

Emily Thornberry: The right hon. Gentleman will, I am sure, realise that we have all moved on in the last 100 years and that things change and we have become different people, but I think the majority of people in these islands identify as British. We saw that in the referendum result and the feelings expressed across the whole of this nation, and the important thing is that we remain a United Kingdom. With the devolution being introduced today, which will be a continuing devolution, we must nevertheless remain a United Kingdom. I believe I speak on behalf of the vast majority of people in Great Britain when I say that.

What concerns me about the Bill, however, is how the Sewel convention will be implemented. The Smith commission recommends that the Sewel convention be placed on a statutory footing. However, despite the Secretary of State’s contention that the Bill will implement the commission’s recommendations in full, in my view clause 2 falls short of fulfilling that promise.

In the 1998 debate on the Scotland Bill of that year, Lord Sewel said:

“However, as happened in Northern Ireland earlier in the century, we would expect a convention to be established that Westminster would not normally legislate with regard to devolved matters in Scotland without the consent of the Scottish parliament.”—[Official Report, House of Lords, 21 July 1998; Vol. 592, c. 791.]

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In seeking to put this convention on a statutory footing, the Bill uses identical language, stating that

“it is recognised that the Parliament of the United Kingdom will not normally legislate with regard to devolved matters without the consent of the Scottish Parliament.”

What does that mean? Does that mean we will not normally legislate with regard to devolved matters without the consent of the Scottish Parliament unless the UK Parliament does not like it? It seems rather an odd way of proceeding and it is a funny way to write the law.

In its report on the Government’s draft proposals, the House of Lords Constitution Committee described this in much more measured terms than I would. [Interruption.] It says

“the use of the word normally…is unusual in legislation and is undefined.”

[Interruption.] The Secretary of State, who is the only Scottish MP on the Government Benches, should listen: the House of Lords Constitution Committee says his legislation is nonsense, and he should listen.

The inevitable question is what the Government mean by “normally”. Language that may be appropriately applied to a convention may well be inappropriate in statute. For instance, we might pass legislation that says, “Normally, it is illegal to steal someone’s wallet”—except when it is legal—or, “Normally, millionaires should pay their fair share of tax”, although perhaps that is a bad example. How about this example, then? Legislation might say, “Normally, it would be illegal to blow up the Houses of Parliament,” but there might be circumstances in which it was legal. This is the legislation being put before us by the Government today.

Simon Hoare: What is the normal response when the hon. Lady sees a white van?

Emily Thornberry: The normal response to silly questions like that is to pass on and not make comment, because the hon. Gentleman belittles himself and this place by descending to that.

Martin John Docherty: Does the hon. Lady believe the Secretary of State for Scotland should give more credence to the unelected upper Chamber than a cross-party report by the democratically elected Scottish Parliament?

Emily Thornberry: I simply think the Secretary of State for Scotland should not introduce legislation that says that we

“will not normally legislate with regard to devolved matters without the consent of the Scottish Parliament”,

because in my view that is not the sort of thing we normally put in legislation. The Bill has been rushed through at the last minute and has not been thought through properly. I strongly suggest that the Secretary of State pays attention to people who are better experts than he is, and makes sure his legislation is a little better than it is.

The Constitution Committee’s report went on to note that this measure, as drafted, would have

“little, or no, legal effect”.

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[Interruption.] I am sorry to interrupt the Secretary of State once more. The Committee says this clause would have little or no legal effect, and I suggest he pays attention to that. It says that the clause would simply

“recognise the existence of the Sewel convention rather than turn it into a legally binding principle”.

In other words, it is a gesture and it does not actually mean anything. I strongly suggest the Secretary of State considers providing some clarity on that point. What do the words of the statute mean? What does he intend? Tell us what “normal” means, and what “abnormal” means, so we all know what we are talking about.

That point is as nothing compared with the nonsense and mess that the Bill will cause in relation to the Human Rights Act. The Government may or may not be changing the Human Rights Act in some way in the future after consulting people—who, we do not yet know. We do not know how it will be changed, but it appears that the Government do intend to change it. As the Secretary of State knows, an integral part of the devolution settlement is that Scotland has a role in the Human Rights Act, and that remains important. If the Government are to honour the spirit of the Sewel convention, they will need to seek the consent of the Scottish Parliament before proceeding on any wholesale reorganisation of the legislative framework upon which our basic human rights rest. The Government need to look at that.

The convention will be pushed to its limit whether it has a basis in statute or not. The Human Rights Act is embedded in Scotland’s devolution settlement, and while it remains for the UK courts to determine whether an Act of Parliament violates an individual’s convention rights, both schedule 6 and section 29(2)(d) of the Scotland Act 1998 gave the same power to the Scottish courts to invalidate Acts of the Scottish Parliament if they are judged to be incompatible with the UK’s obligations under the convention. The same prohibition on acting incompatibly with individuals’ convention rights is extended to Ministers in the Scottish Executive under section 57(2) of the 1998 Act. Since the passage of that Act, the Scottish Parliament has established a Scottish Human Rights Commission and a national plan for human rights, so human rights are without doubt a substantially devolved issue. What is more, the Scots were not exactly backwards in coming forwards on the need to preserve the Human Rights Act.

The Minister might remember that the Government spent the previous two years consulting on how to replace the Human Rights Act with their so-called British bill of privileges; they went around the country asking people their views, for suggestions, whether any rights had been forgotten and whether people would like to change this bit or that bit. The Minister might also remember the consultation’s reception in Scotland. When the Government asked Scottish people their views, how many were in favour of changing the Human Rights Act? None. The Government did not get a single person in Scotland to say that it was a good idea to change the Human Rights Act, so exactly how will they be able to implement the Sewel convention and somehow or other change the Human Rights Act in Scotland? How will that work? It is constitutional nonsense, and the Government should take it extremely seriously.

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Following the election, the Scottish Human Rights Commission said:

“While we will examine any legislative proposals in detail, the Commission repeats its long-standing concerns about the regressive nature of many elements of previous proposals for a British Bill of Rights. These have included enabling the UK to pick and choose which judgments to accept from the European Court of Human Rights, reducing the scope of human rights laws so that they only apply to ‘the most serious’ cases, or to particular areas of law, and restricting the eligibility of rights on the basis of nationality or citizenship. Any and all of these changes would fly in the face of progressive protection for human rights and would have adverse consequences for people in Scotland”.

That is absolutely right. It is quite clear that the people of Scotland do not want the Government to interfere with their Human Rights Act, and the Government should leave it alone. Frankly, they should leave it alone for all of us.

The Government should not seek to change the Human Rights Act without first seeking the consent of the Scottish Parliament. It is clear that if the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, the right hon. Member for Surrey Heath (Michael Gove), went up to Scotland and asked people there whether the Government could change the Human Rights Act, they would probably tell him to sling his hook—or possibly something a little ruder.

Will the Minister assure the House that the Government’s intention is to honour the Sewel convention on a matter of such importance as fundamental human rights?

Antoinette Sandbach: Does the hon. Lady accept that being a signatory to the European convention on human rights is different from the Human Rights Act? We are at liberty, in Parliament, to change the Human Rights Act while still remaining a signatory to the treaty.

Emily Thornberry: I have only two minutes and 46 seconds left, but I am happy to talk to the hon. Lady outside the Chamber. I would say that the Government should keep away from this—it is a devolved issue. They may think that they can implement the Sewel convention properly and still change the Human Rights Act in relation to Scotland, but it cannot be done.

Will the Minister give us a clearer outline of the Government’s definition of “normal”? Will he help us by telling us whether or not, in order to stay true to the spirit of the Smith commission’s recommendations, the Sewel convention can be placed on a much stronger statutory footing than today’s Bill achieves? As it stands, nothing in the Bill prevents this or any future Government from riding roughshod over the clearly expressed views of the Scottish Parliament and the people it represents. The first victim of such woolly legislation could well be the Human Rights Act in Scotland. Just as we will fight in England, we will fight in Scotland to make sure that we keep our Human Rights Act intact.

9.15 pm

Kate Green (Stretford and Urmston) (Lab): I am pleased to have the opportunity to contribute to this debate on a significant piece of constitutional legislation—the next step in a process we have been witnessing since at least 1997, when the first steps to a devolved Scottish Parliament were put in place.

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It will come as no surprise to the House that I take a close personal interest in this Bill, as a Scot by birth and upbringing who has lived in England for many decades. Not only is it important to me personally for that reason, but it is important to many of my constituents who share exactly the same family experience. These families have lived, and continue to live, on both sides of the border, and they feel an emotional and physical attachment to England and Scotland as a result of their history and their lives today. We have, again, heard from other Members who share that family experience, including in at least two maiden speeches—those of the hon. Member for South Leicestershire (Alberto Costa) and my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent North (Ruth Smeeth). They, too, described exactly that experience, which is very common in this country of people who have strong family links and histories in both England and Scotland—and indeed in other parts of the UK.

The Bill is not only important to families across the UK, but it is an important financial, political and constitutional settlement that needs therefore to be fair to people in all parts of the UK. Clearly, there is cross-party support for the Smith commission principles and for the idea of greater devolution. This is a great opportunity for people in Scotland to tackle the poverty and inequality that still pertain in that country. It is very much one that I hope we will be able to replicate in my part of the country in the devolution settlement we achieve for Greater Manchester. But that cross-party support for devolution sits alongside our wish for the continued ability to pool and share risks and resources, and nowhere is that more important than in relation to welfare provision, where it is key that costs and risks must be fairly shared.

There has been much discussion this evening of the extent to which this Bill gives effect to the intentions of the Smith commission. Smith said that there should be “complete autonomy” over devolved benefits. We heard tonight concerns that, in practice, the UK Government will now be able to veto that autonomy, and questions were asked about what that would mean in practice and how things would operate.

It is important to say to those who speak for complete autonomy and expect that that would not involve a degree of negotiation and consultation between the two Governments that we must recognise the huge scale and challenge of the operational change the Department for Work and Pensions is facing now on welfare. Indeed, it is now in a state of perpetual revolution, which makes such negotiation necessary. It will not help people in Scotland or in England or Wales if the stability and resilience of our welfare systems is put at risk by an insistence on impractical solutions. Equally, however, the Bill’s wording as to what we mean by this process of consultation and this notion of veto is unhelpfully woolly. I hope there will be an opportunity to tighten it up in Committee.

Mark Durkan (Foyle) (SDLP): Given the hon. Lady’s caution, what does she think of the example in Northern Ireland? On paper, the Northern Ireland Assembly has legislative power, but Westminster has basically said, “Unless you pass a karaoke version of our legislation, we will interfere in the rest of your Budget and create a Budget crisis.” That situation is now creating a political crisis.

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Kate Green: We can see very clearly the importance of precision and of nailing down exactly what is intended in the wording of legislation and agreements. The Northern Ireland example is instructive of what can go wrong.

The Secretary of State gave us an assurance this afternoon about the process of consultation and resolution, but I hope that there is transparency in the way in which decisions are taken, negotiations are conducted and conclusions are reached. We must be clear about how decisions are taken, and we must be able to scrutinise that process. It will also be important to understand timescales and milestones for such decisions to take place. As I said to the Secretary of State, there needs to be clarity over how disputes between the two Governments are resolved. That is not clear to me despite the assurances that he gave us this afternoon. It is a matter that we need to firm up in Committee.

Alex Salmond: The hon. Lady made an excellent point very early on in her debate over who adjudicates in a dispute. The answer at the moment is that if there is a financial dispute with the Treasury and the devolved Parliament, the Treasury adjudicates. If it is the Joint Ministerial Committee, the Prime Minister does it. Unless it is specified in this Bill, yet again it will be the Prime Minister and his Government who will act as judge and jury in their own court.

Kate Green: The right hon. Gentleman and I might be able to agree that that would not be in the spirit of the discussions that we have had around the purpose of this Bill, which is to create the freedom for Scotland to operate within its devolved powers and to do so within the context of, and as an equal partner in, its relationships with the UK Government.

John Redwood: In order for England as well as Scotland to feel that justice is done, how would the hon. Lady recommend that the Scottish grant be adjusted for the money it will be collecting in its own right from taxation?

Kate Green: Clearly, the fiscal settlement will be of crucial importance to the people in Scotland, to my constituents and to the constituents of the right hon. Gentleman. That is a function of negotiation that I would expect to see as the fiscal settlement is worked out. One principle that was discussed under the Smith negotiations was the principle of no detriment. We can already see that there are issues to be ironed out here, such as those of operational costs, and the potential knock-on effects and costs of Scottish Government decisions about benefit levels, entitlements and top-ups. For example, it could be that a decision of the Scottish Government creates a passporting through to an entitlement, the cost of which falls to the UK Government. It could be that the decision of the Scottish Government in relation to crediting people into national insurance contributions creates a consequence for the national insurance fund. That is complex to disentangle, and it will be really important for this Parliament to have a mechanism for ongoing scrutiny. I hope that the Minister, in responding to this debate, will say how he thinks that scrutiny will work.

There seems to be surprise that the wording of the Bill appears to have fettered some of the scope of the Scottish Government and the Scottish Parliament to

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control the devolved welfare benefits. There is also surprise that only new welfare benefits can be created, and not benefits in relation to, for example, education or health. There are concerns that clause 19, which deals with disabilities, carers and industrial injuries benefits, may be worded too restrictively. It might not be possible to bring certain people into the ambit of the benefit, or people could have a question mark over their qualification for the benefit. For example, it might be that they live on one side of the border, but provide care for someone who lives on the other side of the border, and that needs to be sorted out.

There is concern over the provisions on topping up the reserved benefits and over whether there is an intention for the Scottish Parliament to take an across-the-board approach to topping up those reserved benefits, or whether it is merely a discretion to top up benefits for an individual in one individual case.

I think that we were surprised at the ambit of decisions on discretionary housing payments that will be delegated to Scotland in clause 22, which could potentially fetter the opportunity that colleagues in Scotland might wish to take completely to eliminate the harm done by the bedroom tax. There are also worries about clause 23 and the restriction of the application of short-term temporary assistance, which appears to leave out the possibility that families with children with an ongoing need for support could be excluded from the provisions of the existing legislation. These issues will need to be sorted out if the Scottish Parliament, the Scottish Government and the Scottish National party are to take advantage of the full fiscal autonomy that they have said is their medium-term ambition. We cannot wait for the medium term to resolve these issues; they must be resolved in Committee.

Important new provisions are introduced in clause 24 for the housing element of universal credit. Again, this could be a useful provision for the Scottish Government, as they would be able to reflect the characteristics of the Scottish housing and rental markets. For example—I hope that the Minister will tell me whether I am right to think this—they could vary their broad rental market agreement areas or the local housing allowance. However, there are again restrictions on the extent of the powers being devolved. They will not, as I read it, apply to those who receive housing benefit rather than the housing element of universal credit. They will not apply when people switch at pension age into receipt of pension credit. There is a gap in the legislation in ensuring that the devolution of housing benefit is sufficiently comprehensive to ensure that the Scottish Government will have the incentives and levers to use reductions in the housing benefit bill to enable them to build new homes.

I welcome the provisions on the devolution of employment programmes such as the Work programme and Work Choice. This is a sensible reflection of the different characteristics of different labour markets, although I remind SNP colleagues that the differences exist not just between England and Scotland but within Scotland. That is why Labour proposed in our election manifesto to devolve the Work programme and Work Choice to local authority or combined local authority level. I would expect to hear from Scottish parliamentarians and the SNP what their approach will be to that double devolution to reflect local labour markets.

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I say to Ministers that I have read the provisions of clause 26 on “work for your benefits” on a number of occasions now and have absolutely no idea what they are getting at. I hope that there might be some clarity tonight.

Finally, there will be some significant operational questions, because the smooth delivery of benefits is as important to benefits recipients as the amounts and entitlements that the system offers them. Decisions taken in Scotland could of course affect operational workload elsewhere, such as in relation to decisions about mandatory reconsideration or changing the assessment process, which could have a significant effect on appeals workloads. I note that a fully functioning separate Scottish tribunal system will not be in place until 2023.

In conclusion, it is clear to me that we have a shared intention but a gap and a lack of specificity in providing for the intentions that we all understood to underpin Smith. They must be addressed before the Bill completes its parliamentary passage. We cannot leave issues of such grave constitutional importance in such uncertainty. It is clear that the scale of the constitutional change implied in the Bill is extensive, complex and impacts on the whole of the UK. That is why we will need to ensure that we have the mechanisms to keep its impact and effect under close and continuous scrutiny here in this House.

9.29 pm

Pete Wishart (Perth and North Perthshire) (SNP): Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker, for the opportunity to make a brief contribution to this fantastic debate. We have had some amazing maiden speeches today. I am very grateful to my Conservative friends who can claim that they made their maiden speech on the Scotland Bill and added to the rich tapestry of the debate about Scotland, and very fine they were, too, but I particularly want to pick out the incredible contributions made by my hon. Friends in the fine tradition of the SNP 56 group maiden speeches that we have heard so far. It has been great and I pay tribute to my hon. Friends the Members for North Ayrshire and Arran (Patricia Gibson), for Rutherglen and Hamilton West (Margaret Ferrier), for Aberdeen South (Callum McCaig), for East Renfrewshire (Kirsten Oswald), for Dunfermline and West Fife (Douglas Chapman) and for Livingston (Hannah Bardell). I am particularly grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Dunfermline and West Fife, who reminded me of my punk days, and my time with the Skids and Big Country.

We have heard some astonishing contributions, as well as much repeated stuff. This is the third Scotland Bill on which I have had the great pleasure to be able to speak. It feels entirely different today: the context and environment in which the debate is being held feel totally different. For a start, there is no Scottish Labour left. They were all defeated and beaten by the fantastic maiden speakers we have heard today. Listening to the hon. Member for Edinburgh South (Ian Murray)—the one Member left from Scottish Labour, and who is not paying any attention to what I am saying—we can see why they are in such a diminished state. The almost catastrophic response to the debate and the legislation suggests why they are so diminished in the House. They have an opportunity—a great chance—to back the SNP as we seek to improve the Bill as it goes through

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Parliament. This is the one chance they have to redefine themselves and say that they have learned the lessons of their crushing defeat to create a new narrative or story about how they want to approach Scottish issues.

As we seek to amend and improve the Bill as it goes through the House, I extend the arm of friendship to our colleagues in the Labour party and ask them to join us in a progressive alliance to tackle the austerity message to make sure that we can improve the Bill for the people of Scotland. They have an opportunity to make sure that we progress the Bill through Parliament and improve it. What a mandate we have. There are 56 of us, and we are here with the strongest possible mandate in Scotland to ensure that the Bill is improved.

Sir Edward Leigh rose—

Pete Wishart: I am sorry, I do not have time for interventions.

We have heard from the Joint Committee in the Scottish Parliament. My hon. Friend the Member for Moray (Angus Robertson) repeatedly made the point that we have to listen to the people who will handle these powers—to Scottish parliamentarians. A Joint Committee in the Scottish Parliament concluded overwhelmingly that the measure was not sufficient. The spirit of Smith was not met in the draft clauses on which the Scotland Bill is based, so we must make sure that that voice is listened to and responded to. That is the challenge for this Government: the mandate that the 56 bring, with the strong voice of the Scottish Parliament, which says that the Bill does not meet what is required in the Smith agreement and the conclusions of the Smith Commission. The challenge as we go forward is to ensure that that agenda is progressed and that we get the Bill for which the Scottish people voted overwhelmingly just a few short weeks ago.

We have to try—and I say this to the Secretary of State, who is not listening either—to deal with the veto. If it is a matter of the wording in the Bill, the legislation should be amended so that it can be clearly understood. We should not be in the position where the right hon. Gentleman, bless him—he was the lone panda in the last Parliament—has the final say on something that is democratically decided and debated in the Scottish Parliament. If there is an issue with the veto—he does not agree that there should be a veto—he should improve the legislation, tidy up the wording and ensure that it is cleared up. The Conservatives talk about one nation and so on, but I will talk about my nation. The Conservatives got 14% of the vote in Scotland—their worst election result since the 19th century. They should not have the final say on things that are democratically decided in the Scottish Parliament. The situation must improve, and the measure must be worked on.

I want to pay tribute to the hon. Member for Islington South and Finsbury (Emily Thornberry), who raised some important issues about the Human Rights Act. The Conservative Government have got into some sort of trouble over that Act, and it looks as if they have booted it into the long grass. We have to be careful how we progress legislation through Parliament. We do not have a guarantee or assurance that this Parliament cannot simply do away with the Scottish Parliament: that is something that the Smith proposals invited us to

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consider. We still do not have clarity on that, so as the Bill works its way through Parliament, we should make sure that we get it.

We have a great opportunity to ensure that the strong voice—the overwhelming voice—of Scotland, and the mandate given by the 56 is progressed in the Bill. Let us improve it. Let us work together where we can, and make sure that the Scottish people get what they want, because this is what happens in democracies: when the people speak, Governments respond and listen. They improve the legislation. We have the strongest mandate. I appeal to the House to work with us to deliver the spirit of Smith, improve the legislation, and give the Scottish people what they want.