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Finance (No. 3) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 9:27 pm on 12th November 2018.

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Photo of Drew Hendry Drew Hendry Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) 9:27 pm, 12th November 2018

I was accused earlier by Andrew Bowie of being a bit miserable in my Budget speech—of failing to point out the good things in the Budget. Well, it is pretty easy to be miserable with a miserable Budget, but I did welcome the freeze on whisky duty and the support for electric vehicles, among other things. There were slim pickings, but I did my best to be positive wherever I possibly could. But how rich is it to hear that accusation from those on the Government Benches? They would rather turn to stone than welcome the fact that Scotland’s crime level is at a 42-year low; welcome the best accident and emergency performance in the UK; or welcome that 100,000 small and medium-sized businesses pay no business rates at all, thanks to the Scottish Government’s small business bonus. And what about the 70% of people in Scotland who are now paying less tax, or the lowest-paid people who are paying less tax? Or our record social house building programme, with council houses being put in place to fill the Government’s deficit?

It is clear for all to see that austerity lives on for those who can least afford it. In delivering this Bill, the Government continue their attacks on the poorest in our society. In my response to the Budget, I recounted many ways in which the Government are failing to deliver for Scotland—for our workers, industry and people. My hon. Friend Kirsty Blackman said earlier that the Chancellor admitted that the Government would need to look at “a different approach” on the economy; if and when the Prime Minister fails to secure a deal with the European Union, this Bill will not be worth the vellum it is printed on.

After a decade, Tory austerity is far from over. Scotland’s block grant for 2019-20 is down £2 billion in real terms compared with 2010-2011. The paltry £2.7 billion for universal credit does nothing for people currently struggling and goes nowhere near reversing the years and billions of pounds of social security cuts that people have endured. After five and a half years of this failed experiment in the highlands, after seeing the misery that people have endured on universal credit in Inverness and the surrounding area, and after having ignored not just me but all the agencies, including the Government’s own support agencies, this Government should hang their heads in shame that they are not doing something to help people instead of continuing to punish them in this way.

In contrast, the Scottish Government are helping those on low and modest incomes. This Tory Budget gives tax cuts to the richest. The Scottish Government, in the face of austerity, are building an economy of the future, with measures to unlock innovation and productivity. They do that while the Government in Westminster recklessly pursue, at the very best, a bad Brexit for the nations of the UK—actually it is looking more like a disaster that they are pursuing. The Tories should accept that the only way to minimise the damage to jobs, the economy and business is to stay in the customs union and the single market.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeen North asked earlier, where is the oil and gas sector deal? After £350 billion in tax revenues, the industry deserves better; it needs the sector deal. The news of yet another nuclear failure with the withdrawal of Toshiba underlines the fix that this Government are in over their Paris climate change commitments. Having betrayed Peterhead and having pulled the rug from under the industry three years ago, incidentally wasting £100 million in the process, this Government must now make a proper serious commitment to carbon capture and storage.