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[1st Day]

Part of Debate on the Address – in the House of Commons at 4:20 pm on 21st June 2017.

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Photo of Ian Blackford Ian Blackford SNP Westminster Leader 4:20 pm, 21st June 2017

Thank you, Mr Speaker.

May I begin by echoing the tributes of the Leader of the Opposition and the Prime Minister to Members who have passed away in the last year? I pay tribute to my predecessor, the former right hon. Member for Moray, and thank him for his long service to this House and to the people of his constituency. I am sure right hon. and hon. Members will agree that, in the previous Parliament, Angus Robertson firmly established himself as a true statesman. Although we will miss his contribution to this place, I hope he continues to contribute to public life at a time when, more than ever, our national debate needs considered and rational voices. I also thank him for the leadership he demonstrated for the SNP at Westminster. We on the SNP Benches will miss a good friend.

I must say to the Prime Minister that she made a rather cheap gibe at the previous First Minister of Scotland. Let me point out that, unlike the Prime Minister, Alex Salmond at least won a majority in an election in Scotland. She may have made a rather cheap gibe at Alex Salmond, but she still has a Sturgeon that is very much going to be a thorn in her side.

This is the first time the House has met since the terrible events of this summer. On behalf of SNP Members, I take this opportunity to pay tribute to the professionalism, dedication and sacrifice of our emergency services, who have led the response to the awful events of this summer, and to whom we all owe a tremendous debt of gratitude.

The loss of life at Grenfell Tower was tragic and unnecessary. Family and friends of the victims will be heartbroken and grief-stricken, but many will be angry, too, that this tragedy could and should have been avoided. I speak on behalf of SNP Members when I commit our support to working with all parties in the Chamber to get those families and the country the answers they need and deserve.

Our summer was also marred by the cowardice and reckless violence of terrorism. The whole country is united in grief at the outrage of the attacks in Manchester, at London Bridge and, only this week, at the Finsbury Park mosque. In this place, we must all be united in showing leadership to all our citizens. Despite the despicable efforts of a small minority of misguided individuals, our communities and our society will not be divided. We stand firm against terrorists who attack Muslims, just as we stand against those who wrongly claim to act in the name of Islam.

It is customary to commend the mover and the seconder in proceedings on the Queen’s Speech. I pay tribute to Richard Benyon, whose interest in, and knowledge of, agriculture and fisheries issues will be important in the coming months and years, as those two important sectors will be impacted by the kind of Brexit deal that is achieved.

I am told that the seconder, Kwasi Kwarteng, is a rising star of the right wing of the Conservative party.