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Public Responsibility For Social Justice

Part of Orders of the Day — Opposition Day – in the House of Commons at 6:17 pm on 10th March 1997.

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Photo of John McFall John McFall , Dumbarton 6:17 pm, 10th March 1997

The Secretary of State asks about the fifth man; is there not a Minister in the House of Lords?

The Tory years have been an absolute disaster for Scotland. We agree with the Scottish National party about that, but we differ on what to do next. Scottish nationalists believe that destroying the Union and making wild and unrealistic spending pledges will solve Scotland's problems, but it will not. Scotland needs the realistic plans to combat social injustice and poverty which Labour will deliver, not the pie-in-the-sky promises of the separatists.

Let us consider some of the separatists' promises. They raise the issue of defence. Like the hon. Member for North Tayside (Mr. Walker), I do not have the time to go into the matter in detail, but they estimate that the annual cost of a Scottish military would be £1.7 billion. However, evidence from similar sized countries such as Norway, suggests that the bill would be at least £800 million higher, at about £2.5 billion. Moreover, most comparable countries achieve that level of spending only by relying on less expensive troops through conscription. The only way in which the SNP's spending targets could be even nearly met is by the large-scale reintroduction of conscription in Scotland. The separatists are telling the young people of Scotland, "Two minutes spent voting for us and we will give you two years of military service." The SNP cannot run away from that.