2nd Day

Part of European Union (Withdrawal) Bill – in the House of Commons at 4:31 pm on 11th September 2017.

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Photo of Stephen Gethins Stephen Gethins Shadow SNP Spokesperson (International Affairs and Europe) 4:31 pm, 11th September 2017

I will give the hon. Gentleman his due: at least he had the courage of his convictions and stood up; the rest of them took their time over that. On fishing, on agriculture and on energy, we were told that these powers would come back to the Scottish Parliament without touching the sides, so where are the full powers over fishing, agriculture, energy and education? They are being retained by this Parliament on the 20th anniversary of the devolution process.

To return to my point, the MP I mentioned earlier said this:

“The balance of advantage between Parliament and Government is so weighted in favour of the Government that it is inimical to the proper working of our parliamentary democracy.”—[Official Report, 22 June 1999;
Vol. 333, c. 930.]

That warning about powers such as Henry VIII powers was made in 1999 by the Secretary of State himself when he tried to introduce a Bill to deal with them.

This is a hung Parliament. The Scottish Parliament was designed for a new kind of politics, and one thing I will say to Conservative Members—I hope they are listening—is that even when the SNP was elected with 47 seats out of 129, we had ground-breaking, world-leading action on climate change, free education was reintroduced, and the number of police officers was increased. Action can be taken in a Parliament of minorities, but for that to happen, Members must be willing to listen to those on the other side of the House.

Excellent points have been made from the Conservative and Labour Benches, as well as by other colleagues. The challenge is whether this Government are prepared to listen. What we have seen so far is a Tory Government who want to turn their back on the EU and happily talk about a no-deal situation that would be devastating for jobs and the economy. This approach of ourselves alone against the world is not one that I can possibly endorse, and nor can my colleagues. We must reject this Bill. A new approach is needed, and that is why we will be voting against the Bill tonight.