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Allegations of Impropriety in Public Life

Volume 735: debated on Wednesday 28 June 2023

3. What assessment he has made of the potential implications for his Department’s policies on strengthening the Union of allegations of standards of impropriety in public life. (905583)

The United Kingdom is the most successful political and economic union in the world—the foundation on which all our businesses and citizens are able to thrive. When we work collaboratively as one United Kingdom, we are safer, stronger and more prosperous; we are better able to draw on the institutions that unite us, such as the health service, the armed forces and our world-class education system; and we are better able to respond to challenges, such as supporting families with the cost of living and leading the international response to Russia’s illegal war in Ukraine.

Does the Secretary of State think that the former Prime Minister, who was fined by the police and subsequently found to have knowingly lied to the late Queen, this House and therefore the public, strengthened or weakened the Union?

The Union has never been stronger, and this Prime Minister has said that those in public life should aspire to the highest standards of propriety.

I think we can all agree about the importance of politicians telling the truth. In that context, has my right hon. Friend seen the video released by the Scottish Government in which Cabinet Secretary Angus Robertson makes a range of spurious claims about devolution being under attack by the UK Government? If so, what does he think of it?

I did see Angus Robertson’s video clip, and I think I counted 16 false claims in the space of one minute and 40 seconds. That is a false claim every six seconds—pretty impressive, even by his standards. As usual, the nationalists are desperate to invent a grievance, but the reality is that the UK Government respect devolution, support it and strengthen it. The only people who want to destroy devolution are the ones who want to rip us out of the United Kingdom.

The Privileges Committee’s conclusions are crystal clear that the former Prime Minister knowingly misled this House and subsequently tried to intimidate the very Committee carrying out the inquiry he set up. Why did the Secretary of State not set an example and vote for the Privileges Committee’s report?

As I said to the media when this question was raised in an interview last week, it was simply because I felt the report was too excessive in its conclusions.