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20 Years of Devolution

Volume 663: debated on Wednesday 24 July 2019

1. What assessment he has made of the merits of the devolution of powers to Scotland over the last 20 years. (912059)

10. What assessment he has made of the merits of the devolution of powers to Scotland over the last 20 years. (912068)

As there will not be another opportunity for Scottish questions before September, I draw the House’s attention to an issue that was raised in an earlier session of Scottish questions. I am sure that you, Mr Speaker, will join me in looking forward to the Murray trophy ATP Challenger tournament that will take place in Glasgow from 16 to 22 September. We all welcome this positive addition to the tennis calendar, and I particularly look forward to welcoming you, Mr Speaker, to the tournament.

After 20 years, I believe that the current devolution settlement is the right balance, with appropriate decisions being taken for Scotland at Holyrood and for the whole UK in this Parliament. Since the first Scotland Act, Holyrood has become one of the most powerful devolved Parliaments in the world.

On the devolution of powers, my question to the Secretary of State is about Falkirk Council’s growth deal bid to both the Scottish Government and the UK Government. To give him credit, he has taken a keen interest in the proposed deal. As he well knows, it is an ambitious bid to bring together horizontal community and business integration. Will he update my hon. Friend the Member for Linlithgow and East Falkirk (Martyn Day) and me on the timeline for the investment zone and growth deal bid? Will he assure us on where the business case will sit in respect of the new Government?

I commend the hon. Gentleman and his colleague, the hon. Member for Linlithgow and East Falkirk (Martyn Day), on their lobbying efforts for the Falkirk deal. The UK Government are committed to taking forward that deal. After a productive meeting with the leader of Falkirk Council earlier this week, we are looking forward to the council submitting proposals by the end of August and to a presentation in September.

I am glad the Secretary of State seems to think that constitutional perfection has now been reached on these islands. I wonder whether that means he agrees with his new party leader, the right hon. Member for Uxbridge and South Ruislip (Boris Johnson), who told a group of activists that we do not need

“an England-only parliament. We have an England parliament, it’s in Westminster.”

If the Secretary of State does agree with that, does that not make his post and, indeed, all of us who represent Scotland a little redundant? If he does not agree, why has he been so effusive in welcoming his new leader? Is it perhaps because he himself does not want to be made redundant?

If that was a question about a separate English Parliament, I should say that I am clear, as is the new leader of the Conservative party, that England does not need its own separate Parliament.

Does the Secretary of State agree that the incoming Prime Minister must deliver certainty, confidence and prosperity for the whole UK, to counter the politics of grievance and defeat?

Given that, 20 years on, fewer than half the people in Scotland think that devolution has led to better outcomes in education, health or the growth of the Scottish economy, does my right hon. Friend agree that what Scotland needs is a Government who will utilise with full effect Holyrood’s extensive powers, not deflect and delay powers like the Scottish National party has done?

I agree wholeheartedly with my hon. Friend and it is a message that I get back from my own constituents. They want to see the Scottish Parliament focusing on education, health, and transport—the issues that are important to their daily lives—and not pursuing an obsession with the constitution.

Does the Secretary of State agree that one of the frustrations that those of us who cherish devolution feel is the SNP’s apparent reticence to use many of the Scottish Parliament’s powers. For example, what a difference they could make to the lives of the 6,000 WASPI women in my constituency of Edinburgh West if they used the powers they had to alleviate the difficulties, rather than using them as another grievance.

May I begin by asking the hon. Lady to pass on my congratulations to her new UK leader? It is very good to see a Scottish MP in that role. I agree wholeheartedly with her sentiment. It is well documented that if, having aligned themselves to the WASPI cause, the SNP Government really wanted to do something for WASPI women, they have the power and, indeed, the capacity to raise the resources to do so.

Does the Secretary of State agree that one of the benefits of devolution is when our two Governments work together, such as with the Moray growth deal? The £32.5 million from the UK Government was matched by the Scottish Government, which means that it will make a real difference to the whole of Moray. Therefore, devolution delivers when our Governments work together.

I commend my hon. Friend for his tireless efforts to pursue the Moray growth deal, which has been raised at every Scottish questions during his tenure. Yes, the Scottish and UK Governments working together is the best way to deliver for the people of Scotland. Let us see more of it.