I am grateful for the opportunity to contribute to this debate on a critical issue for the future of the UK and, indeed, the integrity of many of our communities that have faced hardship in recent years.
I wish to pay particular attention to the issues that affect my constituency, which come under the Scottish Government’s purview. It was interesting to hear the Scottish National party Front-Bench spokesperson, Drew Hendry, grandstanding and railing against the cuts that are coming to Scotland, and talking about how the SNP has been stretching every sinew to mitigate Tory cuts. Indeed, he referred to the block grant cut, yet why did SNP Members abstain on Third Reading of the Tory Finance Bill just a few weeks ago? They could have prevented that cut. It is clear that in reality they are not doing much to mitigate the cuts.
Local government in Scotland is now the most centralised system of government of any country in Europe. We have seen a continued strangulation of local government finances. The SNP has slashed £1.5 billion from local councils since 2011, merely acting as a conveyor belt for Tory austerity.