20 Years of Devolution

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:13 pm on 11th July 2019.

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Photo of Patricia Gibson Patricia Gibson Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Consumer Affairs) 2:13 pm, 11th July 2019

I am delighted to speak in this debate on 20 years of devolution. We now have an entire generation in Scotland who have never known a Scotland without its own Parliament, and that is something of which we can be proud. The Scottish Parliament was born out of disappointment and frustration with the monolithic and remote set-up of Westminster, and that created a thirst, a desire and a burning need for Scotland to have its own democratic Parliament.

What a 20 years it has been! Many of the policies delivered by the Scottish Parliament have been creative, innovative, progressive and worked hard to create a more socially just Scotland. There has been legislation on areas such as land reform and the ban on smoking in public places—championed by Kenneth Gibson MSP, who was the very first politician in the entire United Kingdom to promote that innovative idea. We have had the most ambitious climate change legislation and minimum unit pricing. I could go on, but those examples show that Scotland’s Parliament sets a legislative agenda that others need to follow.

The more the Scottish Parliament does, the more we find it can do—and that is just as well. As Westminster lies paralysed by Brexit chaos and the Government eat themselves alive, with 30 Ministers resigning in the last year alone, the Scottish Parliament under the SNP has got on with the day job. Nine Bills have been passed in two months alone. As we heard from my hon. Friend Ronnie Cowan, those Bills focused on issues such as tackling fuel poverty, enshrining safe NHS staffing in law, extending social care to under-65-year-olds who need it through Frank’s law—which the Tories voted against, by the way—and a whole range of other measures to improve the lives of the people of Scotland. Of course, recently the Scottish Government have been forced to concentrate their mind on doing all they can to halt or prevent Scotland from the most damaging aspects of Brexit. All of this is in the context of a £2.5 billion cut to the Scottish Parliament’s budget over the last 10 years under successive UK Governments.