20 Years of Devolution

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:03 pm on 11th July 2019.

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Photo of Christine Jardine Christine Jardine Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Work and Pensions) 2:03 pm, 11th July 2019

I thank my hon. Friend for that reminder that the SNP did not, in fact, take part at all.

During those 20 years, it has been important to differentiate between devolution and the work of the Scottish Parliament and of the various Scottish Governments. Yes, there have been achievements—they have been mentioned already—including free personal care, the Borders railway, and the growth in our economic, perhaps, independence. There have been huge achievements, but there have also been significant failures. Our education system is suffering. Our NHS, despite what we regularly hear, is suffering. Independence is constantly put forward as the answer to everything, with Westminster always being at fault. However, perhaps those who advocate independence would do better to spend more time on the day job, working for the people of Scotland to improve the areas that are falling down—most significantly, as Ian Murray said, in the sucking in of power to Holyrood at the expense of many different areas of life in Scotland. As my hon. Friend Jamie Stone mentioned, the highlands and the north-east of Scotland have suffered greatly from this centralisation and the whittling away of the powers of local government in order to aggrandise the Scottish Government at their expense.

For those of us who worked hard for independence—[Hon. Members: “Hooray!”] I mean devolution. [Interruption.] I can honestly tell you that will never happen. Those of us who worked hard for devolution for more than 20 years, who campaigned between 1979 and 1997, and for whom devolution is the most significant achievement of Scottish politics of the last 300 years, will defend it, will work to improve it, and will always support those who put their effort into the good governance of Scotland.