20 Years of Devolution

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:50 pm on 11th July 2019.

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Photo of Ross Thomson Ross Thomson Conservative, Aberdeen South 1:50 pm, 11th July 2019

I thank my hon. Friend for his intervention, and there is not much more that I can say, because I wholeheartedly agree with him that there is far more scope for us to work together, to collaborate and share—for example, by sharing best practice and sharing policy that has been a success. Just because it has happened elsewhere in the United Kingdom does not mean that we should not do the same thing in Scotland.

When we leave the EU, the Scottish Parliament will gain new powers in a vast array of areas—forestry and carbon capture, crucial in tackling climate change; ports and harbours, which will be vital in supporting our fishing industry and offshore industries; and voting and employment rights, which will be key to securing a sound civil society. So I am proud that a Conservative Government are ensuring, once again, that the Scottish Government have the tools to deliver for the people of Scotland. However, it is up to the SNP Scottish Government to make sure that they live up to their duty to deliver.

Devolution unambiguously shows the strength of our United Kingdom. It has given us the security we need to share the risks and the rewards as a family of nations. It is important to remember that the devolution settlement continues to have the support of the people. We saw that in 2014, when the people of Scotland voted, clearly and decisively, to stay in the United Kingdom. We have seen that in Wales, where the people have backed devolution in successive polls to afford their elected representatives more powers. What we have seen over the past few years—indeed, over the past few weeks—is that devolution can work only when those elected to represent people across these four nations do so in good faith and live up to their commitments to uphold devolution.

Intergovernmental relations have come under strain at the political level—that is reflected in the Scottish Affairs Committee report, which I commend to colleagues—but it is not surprising that there is friction when different political Administrations hold unreconcilable positions. We need to look at what more we can do to ease that friction and to ensure that, where there is dispute, we can get resolution.